Shifting Your Mindset Following Crucibles to Unlock Your Potential


Do you ever wonder why some very smart people don’t live up to their potential? Maybe you yourself wish to unlock greater potential? It may come down to mindset or mental attitude, which can be more important for success than IQ.

Mindset is “an established set of attitudes held by someone,” says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn’t be so set, according to Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford.

Dweck proposes in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, (2006) that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

  • A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as… well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure.
  • A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity.

Which mindset do you possess? Dweck, an expert in motivation and personality psychology, has discovered in more than 20 years of research that our mindset is not just a minor personality quirk. It creates our whole mental worldview, determines whether we become optimistic or pessimistic and consequently our behaviors. It shapes our goals and attitudes toward work and relationships, and it can ultimately predict whether we fulfill our potential.

Dweck provides a checklist to assess yourself and shows how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and even love.


Test Your Mindset

Which mindset do you have about your own intelligence?

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic that cannot change much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how intelligent you are, you can always improve.
  4. You can substantially change how intelligent you are.

Statements one and two reflect closed-mindset thinking. Statements three and four indicate an open mindset. Where do you fall on the spectrum? You can fall somewhere in the middle, but most people lean in one direction.

You also have beliefs about your other abilities. Try substituting artistic talent, sports acumen or a particular business skill for intelligence.

The great news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness.

Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.

I know this is undeniably true from the coaching clients I have worked with over the years. Some yearn for and are more open to learning and growing; others perceive failure or setbacks as obstacles to fear and avoid; which results in living into ones full potential harder because of the avoidance of not looking good.

Where do you land on the continuum of a fixed or a growth mindset? Is it time we talked? Contact me.


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