Fixed and growth mindsets (terms coined by Dr. Carol Dweck) are used to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When people believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and work which leads to higher achievement, and learn that success is not only down to natural given talent or intelligence. You may have totally failed the exam (static thinking), alternatively you have not yet passed (evolving intellect). This is much more than positive thinking and I’m very aware of the social model barriers which exist for disabled people. Having a growth mindset means when the social model barriers have been removed globally, we will then be unstoppable (until the lift is out of service).

Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Research on neuroplasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons can change with experience. With repeated practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. These discoveries show that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take.

Believing that our qualities, mine and the people around me, are set is stone (a fixed mindset) limits effort and risk-taking.

Big Up Your Growth Mindset

Stay curious – The more you experience and learn the more your brain is building and improving problem solving abilities. Like a muscle, the brain performs better through continuous, deliberate use. Ask questions to the people you meet, reflect on what happened today. Listening is just as important.

Find something you adore – The more interested or enchanted you are about a career or subject the more likely you will excel and enjoy it. This is also important when you hit adversity, you need to love it enough to carry on.

Believe you have the skills – Show a self-awareness of your skills, talents and weaker areas. Our brains can adapt and sharpen, trust in yourself as much as in science.

Reframe failure – It is not the end, you are just not yet there, learn from it. This is where you need to believe more than usual, maybe even try to enjoy the process to improvement.

Challenges are your new best friend – Welcome the challenge and use it as fuel to take positive actions to push you forward. Be tenacious in the face of adversity.

Positive relationships – Deliberately surround yourself with positive, creative and intellectually stimulating people. Your tribe will determine your success. Help others succeed and enjoy their accomplishments. Use this as inspiration for yourself and accept people may find you inspiring in return (and not in the inspirational porn kind of way).

Bio: Mary Doyle has been named as one of Britain’s most influential disabled people in 2018 and is the founder of  Rocket Girl Coaching , which helps disabled professionals get past their own challenges, find new directions, and make a success of them. Mary is also a wheelchair user and campaigner for accessible aviation and STEM, with a 28-year software and services background, which took her all over the world. Mary is also a solo pilot, and advocate for Flying Disabled and Flying Scholarships for Disabled People. She’s passionate about human potential, inclusion, customer experience and technology. She can be found on Twitter  @RocketGirlCoach