Empowered Mindset: A Key to Transformation

Empowered Mindset

An empowered mindset can transform your life by enabling you to face challenges confidently and optimistically. This mindset helps you believe in your ability to shape your future, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and success.

In my book Conceptualizing and Providing Efficient Online Direction: How to Engage Adult Learners (Teachers College Press, 2021), I emphasize achieving “deep learning” through dialogue and reflection. Transformative learning stands out because it focuses on critical self-reflection, crucial for personal growth and mindset development.

Transformative Learning and Personal Growth

Kegan (2000) and Mezirow (1991, 1994, 2000) developed the concept of transformative learning, which involves several key elements:

  1. An empowered sense of self
  2. A critical understanding of how experiences shape beliefs
  3. Functional strategies for moving forward

Transformative learning focuses on making meaning from experiences. This process transforms our understanding and influences our actions. We cultivate a robust and positive mindset by engaging learners, developing their self-motivation, and fostering an “I can do this” attitude.

From Growth Mindset to Empowerment

Carol Dweck (2007) introduced the idea of a growth mindset, which I expanded upon to include empowerment. Encouraging this mindset means helping learners see their potential and supporting their continuous growth. This approach is essential for marginalized students, enabling them to advocate for their education and unique needs.

Learner Mindset

  • Learners’ self-concept and self-efficacy beliefs significantly impact their persistence and success. A positive mindset helps learners believe in their abilities and value achievement. Here are some aspects to focus on:
  • Self-Concept: Help adult learners build a positive academic self-concept, especially if they have had negative schooling experiences.
  • Self-Efficacy: Boost learners’ confidence by engaging them in meaningful experiences.
  • Persistence: Teach self-advocacy skills to overcome barriers and support ongoing learning.

Instructor Mindset

Instructors with a fixed mindset may judge students and give up on those who struggle. In contrast, instructors with a growth mindset focus on students’ strengths and provide supportive feedback. As transformative educators, believing that all learners can improve and succeed is crucial.

Strategies for Enhancing an Empowered Mindset

Transformative learning involves four phases, often triggered by a “disorienting dilemma”:

  1. Awareness of beliefs
  2. Critique of assumptions
  3. Adoption of new perspectives
  4. Action based on new perspectives

Critical self-reflection is vital to developing a robust and positive mindset. Incorporate essential thinking opportunities into your course content and provide activities that encourage reflection and dialogue. Active learning, where students engage in meaningful tasks, promotes deeper learning and fosters this mindset.

What is an empowered mindset

Where to from Here?

As transformative educators, we must strive to meet all learners’ needs, empowering them to make meaningful life changes. Build learning environments that value critical thinking and human development. Reflect on your role and consider these questions:

  • Are you willing to try new strategies to impact learners’ lives positively?
  • How can you transform your relationship with each learner?
  • How can you build opportunities for dialogue and reflection?
  • How does your mindset influence your learners’ mindset?
  • What are you doing to sustain motivation and build a culture of deep learning?


Linda Dale Bloomberg, EdD, served as an adjunct faculty member and dissertation advisor at Teachers College, Columbia University. She develops the curriculum for qualitative research in graduate online programs at the National University and acts as a faculty coach, dissertation chair, and doctoral subject matter expert. Dr. Bloomberg also consults with research, higher education, and nonprofit advisory boards, including The Future Talent Council. She founded Bloomberg Associates and the Institute for Learning Innovations and Adult Development (ILIAD) and co-founded Columbia University’s Global Learning and Leadership Institute.

Her research focuses on change management, diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives, and enhanced workplace learning. Dr. Bloomberg has authored multiple publications and contributed to The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation (2018). Her recent books include Completing Your Qualitative Dissertation: A Road Map from Beginning to End (2023, 5th Ed.) and Designing and Delivering Effective Online Instruction: How to Engage Adult Learners (2021). She holds master’s degrees in counselling psychology, organizational psychology, and education and is credentialed with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She earned her doctorate in adult education and organizational learning from Columbia University’s AEGIS program. You can reach Linda on LinkedIn.


  • Bloomberg, L. D. (2021). Designing and Delivering Effective Online Instruction: How to Engage Adult Learners. Teachers College Press, Columbia University.
  • Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Jossey Bass.
  • Dewey, J. (1933). How We Think. Heath and Co.
  • Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House.
  • Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum.
  • Kegan, R. (2000). “What ‘Form’ Transforms?” In J. Mezirow & Associates (Eds.), Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. Jossey-Bass.
  • Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass.
  • Schön, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. Temple Smith.


What is a positive mindset? 

A positive mindset is a way of thinking that focuses on strengths, optimism, and the belief that you can overcome challenges and shape your future.

How can a positive mindset improve my life?

A positive mindset can boost your confidence, improve your mental health, and help you achieve your goals. It encourages resilience and enables you to see opportunities in challenges.

What are some strategies to develop a positive mindset?

 To develop a positive mindset, set clear goals, practice positive self-talk, learn from mistakes, surround yourself with positive influences, and take proactive steps toward your aspirations.

How does positive self-talk help in developing this mindset?

Positive self-talk replaces negative thoughts with encouraging ones, reinforcing one’s belief in one’s abilities and helping one stay motivated and focused on one’s goals.

Why is it essential to view challenges as opportunities? 

Viewing challenges as opportunities helps you learn and grow from your experiences, turning potential setbacks into valuable lessons that contribute to your personal development.

How can setting clear goals help in developing a positive mindset? 

Setting clear goals gives you direction and purpose, making it easier to stay focused and motivated. Achieving these goals builds confidence and reinforces a positive outlook.

What role does surrounding myself with positive influences play? 

Surrounding yourself with positive people provides support, encouragement, and inspiration, helping you maintain a positive outlook and stay motivated.

Can learning from mistakes help in developing a positive mindset? 

Learning from mistakes allows you to see them as valuable lessons rather than failures. This perspective helps you grow and improve, reinforcing your belief in overcoming future challenges.

How can I start taking proactive steps toward my aspirations? 

Begin by setting clear, achievable goals. Break them into smaller tasks, and take consistent, deliberate actions towards them. Celebrate your progress to stay motivated.

How long does it take to develop a positive mindset? 

The time it takes to develop a positive mindset varies for each person. Consistent practice of positive thinking, goal setting, and learning from experiences can lead to gradual but significant changes over time.

Final Verdict

Developing an empowered mindset can profoundly change your life. You can cultivate this mindset by fostering self-belief, viewing challenges as opportunities, and surrounding yourself with positivity. Set clear goals, engage in positive self-talk, learn from your mistakes, and take proactive steps toward your aspirations. This approach can unlock your full potential and achieve your dream.

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A Plea for Equity

Que sera, sera, and we would be far better served by thinking about what it is we wish to accomplish in our teaching, and in education generally, regardless of the post-pandemic details. It is only then, assuming we can carve out opportunities to influence the future of higher education, that we will exert such influence toward justifiable ends, and that que sera will be something we value.


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