Over the last few of weeks, I’ve been reading Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Recently, I’ve been tweeting about the differences between a fixed and growth mindset: see #fixedvsgrowthmindset
Dweck’s research over 20 years has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life:
“In a fixed mindset people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset, people understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it”.
Some other points that I took away from the book are that people with a fixed mindset:
- Are measured by failure
- Blame others or make excuses if they don’t perform well
- Believe that effort is for people with deficiencies
- Need to always prove their ability
- Don’t want to confront their shortcomings
- Stick with what they know in order to feel smart
- Lose interest if things get hard
However, people with a growth mindset:
- Believe their true potential is unknown – you can’t foresee what you can accomplish
- Learn from their mistakes
- Direct effort where they feel deficient
- Enjoy challenges – they want to be stretched
- Can develop their abilities through learning
- Deal with failures and learn from them
Dweck also says that praising intelligence leads to a fixed mindset whereas praising effort leads to a growth mindset. Your background, upbringing and life experiences all help to shape your current mindset.
It’s likely that you’ll have a different mindset in different areas of your life. The good news is that you can change your mindset. It isn’t easy, you need to work at it but it’s worth it. The first step is knowing about the two mindsets and the differences between them. You can see from the above list how limiting a fixed mindset is compared to the growth mindset.
The second is making a conscious decision to think in a growth mindset when faced with challenges or setbacks or new situations. You should also use a growth mindset when giving feedback to or interacting with colleagues or staff in the workplace and family and friends in general. Your actions can help to shape the mindset of others.
Your mindset can have a powerful effect on your life. So, what mindset are you?
Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.