Author: Dweck, Carol
Category: Mindset, Psychology, Growth Mindset, Practical Psychology
I’ve been stuck before. A deadline is approaching and I feel like I should give up or I received a bad test grade on that Neuro exam and I feel completely defeated. It is times like these where a small voice in my head whispers, “You don’t belong here”, “You are not as smart as everyone else”. Why do I give such weight to this voice? How convenient it is that when I hear this voice, I forget all of the hard work and success I have had in the past. When that voice looms it’s head, however, it’s easy to forget, and now I know I am not alone. In Dweck’s Mindset, she posits that there are two reigning camps, those in the Fixed Mindset and those in the Growth Mindset. Where the Growth Mindset revolves around qualities that can be developed and cultivated, the Fixed Mindset is just that, Fixed; unchangeable qualities that when tested you either have it or you don’t. Dweck illustrates the difference between the two Mindset’s with case studies and examples and goes on to describe how the two Mindset’s can impact how we teach, coach, lead and even impact our relationships.
Mindsets are the way you view everything that happens to you. It is the prism through which you form judgements about your actions and the results of your actions. One can see then that a Mindset could profoundly change the meaning of a lesson or experience. Failure is a commonly cited experience and one can imagine that without an appropriate Mindset, like a forking path in the woods, the message received could lead you to a completely different destination.
Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset:
A Fixed Mindset revolves around unchangeable qualities and with this prism your actions are constantly scrutinized. With a certain and finite amount of any characteristic whether it be skill, intelligence, or ability, one can see that with every event you are being graded and evaluated. You either have it or you don’t.
A Growth Mindset on the other hand emphasizes plastic or changeable qualities. It revolves around the idea that your abilities can be developed through effort and hard work. You are not simply born with a certain amount of intelligence or skill. Your qualities can be developed.
Learning about the Mindset:
We live on a Fixed vs. Growth continuum and we are all likely more Growth Mindset oriented in a certain category as well as more Fixed Mindset oriented in another. For instance, you may believe that your skills in your profession can be developed, with more practice you will get better at x, y or z (Growth Mindset), but you are always angry when driving and you don’t think that will ever change (Fixed Mindset). Of course, nothing will change without awareness or the desire to change but knowledge about the Mindsets is where to start. Simply labeling or framing your thoughts when you encounter a setback or failure is enough of a pause to allow you to start implementing change.
When encountering a challenge, ask: Am I reacting with a Fixed Mindset or a Growth Mindset? How can I respond positively to this situation in order to grow and develop?
When encountering failure or a setback, ask: What can I learn from this? What will I do next time when I’m in this situation?
Mindset in Action:
Along with simply labeling your thoughts in order to change your mindset, Dweck lists a few different steps in order to implement a “True Growth Mindset”.
Step 1: Embrace your Fixed Mindset
It starts by accepting that we all have both mindsets
Step 2: Become aware of your Fixed Mindset triggers
Then we learn to recognize what triggers our Fixed Mindset. Failures? Criticism? Deadlines? Disagreements?
Step 3: Give your Fixed Mindset persona a name
And we come to understand what happens to us when our Fixed-Mindset “persona” is triggered. Who is this persona? What’s its name? What does it make us think, feel, and do? How does it affect those around us?
Step 4: Educate your Mindset
…We can gradually learn to remain in a Growth-Mindset place despite the triggers, as we educate our persona and invite it to join us on our Growth-Mindset Journey
“…In one world – the world of fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.”
“…they start to catch themselves when they are in the throes of the Fixed Mindset – passing up a chance for learning, feeling labeled by failure, or getting discouraged when something requires a lot of effort. And then they switch themselves into the Growth Mindset – making sure they take the challenge, learn from the failure, or continue their effort.”
“…What I mean is that even when you think you’re not good at something, you can still plunge into it wholeheartedly and stick to it. Actually, sometimes you plunge into something because you’re not good at it.”
“Next time you feel low, put yourself in a Growth Mindset – think about learning, challenge, confronting obstacles. Think about effort as a positive, constructive force, not as a big drag”