Open and Closed Mindsets and Self-Awareness

There is risk in seeking Self-Awareness.  To truly grow and be stretched we need to be open to taking in a full range of feedback – from where we are doing great to where we may be failing or not meeting the expectations of others.

An open mindset can be developed and nurtured within high trust environments, where individuals can trust that the feedback they are receiving is being offered with the best intention for their development.


Eminent psychologist and human intelligence expert Howard Gardner (Extraordinary Minds, 1998) points out that exceptional people have a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses. They have open minds and are willing to take in feedback about their own deficiencies so they can improve themselves and their organizational performance.

People with a closed mindset, on the other hand, gather only the information that supports their views, and they’re more concerned with appearing superior and right. As a result, they easily distort information that supports their self image.

Carol Dweck, PhD, an expert in motivation and personality psychology (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, 2006), has discovered that mindset is not just a minor personality quirk. It creates our whole mental worldview and determines whether we become optimistic or pessimistic. It shapes our goals and attitudes toward work and relationships, and it ultimately predicts whether we will fulfill our potential.

Everyone has one of two basic mindsets:

  1. One mindset is open to growth and learning, believing one can always do better.
  2. The closed mindset is entrenched in the belief that natural talents and abilities predetermine success.

People with open mindsets believe they can always learn more, do more, and improve. They are confident, yet humble enough to work harder to expand their potential and knowledge. They accept criticism as important feedback, not as a personal insult.

People with closed mindsets believe their talents rather than hard work will lead them to succeed. They constantly seek validation of their worth and want to be right, instead of demonstrating an interest in accepting feedback and a willingness to make changes or adjustments.

If you have an open mindset, you know your talents can be nurtured and that great abilities improve over time. Just as with gifted athletes or musicians, talent with focus and work results in excellence. This is the path to opportunity — and success. On the other hand, if you find it difficult to accept and learn from feedback, you might be operating with a closed mindset.

What are your experiences? I’d love to hear your opinion. Contact me or connect with me on LinkedIn.


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