According to Carol Dweck in the book Mindset, people are one of two mindsets, the growth mindset, and the fixed mindset. By understanding your mindset, you can become better at dealing with life and creating success for yourself.
Individuals with a fixed mindset tend to spend lots of time in avoidance mode. They don’t like challenges, or obstacles and go to great lengths to avoid making mistakes. Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” People with a fixed mindset find criticism painful, and they tend to ignore it or become angry over it. They tend to only take on tasks they know they can complete.
People with a growth mindset love a challenge and persevere, working through obstacles and hardships. They love to learn and believe that effort is part of the fun of learning and the path to mastery. They not only accept criticism, but often ask for it, using it as feedback to improve and learn. When they are around successful people, they study their success, treating it as a learning opportunity.
The attitude of the individual with a fixed mindset is: “Either I’m good at something or I’m not. If I’m not good at something, there’s nothing I can do about it.” The person with a growth mindset believes they can learn anything if they set their mind to it. Frustration and challenge just increase their determination. They are inspired by achievement and believe that effort and attitude determine success.
Mindset is about whether you believe qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits. This is important because your mindset impacts your success or failure. Carol Dweck says that one’s beliefs play a pivotal role in what you want and whether you can achieve it.
There are some basic theories about how mindset is formed. Children who develop fixed mindsets are concerned with being judged and are afraid of not measuring up to expectations They are told to be smart. Children with growth mindset are taught to embrace challenges and to be excited by new experiences. They grow up believing that mistakes are a part of learning and necessary for achievement.
The growth mindset is not about perfection but about living up to one’s potential. An individual with a growth mindset tends to persevere in the face of hardship or setbacks as opposed to those with a fixed mindset who are more likely to give up, sometimes without even trying.
Not sure whether you have a growth or fixed mindset? Answer the questions below with True or False:
1. People have a certain level of intelligence and you can’t change it.
2. People can make themselves smarter by learning new things.
3. By a certain age, your basic personality and abilities are set and are not going to change.
4. People can learn new things throughout their lives.
5. Some people are talented in things like art, music, and sports some aren’t.
6. Anyone can get better at just about anything if they work hard and practice.
If you answered True to the odd numbered questions, you probably have a fixed mindset. If you answered True to the even numbered questions, you probably have a growth mindset. If your answers are mixed you might have a combination of fixed and growth mindset.
The good news is that people can change their mindset. While change is not easy for someone with a fixed mindset, it is possible. If you are tired of the limitations your mindset has on your life, here are a few ways you can make a shift.
1. Shift your beliefs. Our beliefs are just constructs of our minds and can be changed. A big part of growing into adulthood is about adapting our beliefs to new learnings.
2. Change the way you think about failure. By embracing failure as feedback, you change it from being final to being a step on the path to success and you shift the way you deal with it.
3. Boost your self-awareness. Ask 5 people who care about you to tell you what they think are your strengths. You will be amazed by their answers. Ask them how you can improve and go for it.
4. Trade in your anxiety for curiosity and wonder. Growing up with a fixed mindset guarantees anxiety. Rather than resist not knowing and uncertainty, accept it and allow yourself to be curious about what is going to happen. It might take some practice, but trading in your anxiety for curiosity will improve your mental and physical health!
5. Study people who have a growth mindset. Find people who inspire you, read about their lives, and how they became who they are. Not because you need to be someone other than who you are, but because developing a growth mindset will help you to be who you are more fully.
Taking responsibility for your mindset means that you are choosing how you move through life. It is the difference between living your life with intention, and just letting life happen to you. Whether you are a fixed mindset person, or the boss or parent of such a person, I encourage you to learn more. Read Carol Dweck’s book, take a workshop on Mindset or work with a coach to develop your ability to operate in a growth mindset way, and help others to do so as well. Embracing life rather than avoiding it promises rewarding change.
Cami Miller is a business coach and works with executives, entrepreneurs, and family businesses developing strategies for success. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org