In Professor Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, a growth mindset is described as a desire to always be learning and becoming better, as opposed to a fixed mindset in which you expect you are either smart or good at something and there’s nothing one can do if you’re not a “natural.”
When you have a fixed mindset you want to:
- Look smart which means you avoid challenges and avoid the possibility of failure.
- You easily give up and get defensive.
- You see effort and hard work as fruitless and not worth it.
- You don’t listen to criticism because it makes you feel vulnerable and you ignore even useful or positive feedback because it is pointless.
- When others have success, you feel threatened and envious.
- As a result, you give up too early, plateau and never reach your potential.
With a growth mindset you always have a desire to learn and grow, so you tend to:
- Pursue and embrace challenges
- Persist in the face of setbacks
- See effort and hard work as a necessary path to mastery
- Learn from feedback and criticism seeking out others’ opinions
- Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others
When you adopt a growth mindset you reach ever higher levels of achievement. You’re not afraid of risks because they’re part of the learning and growing process. So wouldn’t it makes sense to switch to a growth mindset?
Dweck says anyone can change their mindset and switch to a growth attitude. Is that hard to do? As much as I really do believe that I can become smarter at my age and a more successful speaker, I need assistance with the stretch changes I make.
It’s not easy to replace a fixed mindset with a growth mindset that tells you to embrace all things that have felt threatening:
When you first become aware of the two different mindsets, you feel hopeful – Of course! That is what I need to do, right?
So I started paying attention to the negative voice in my head each time I said something other than a growth-oriented phrase. I became acutely aware of how natural the voice emerges. At the end of the day, I reflect on my inner voice which often sounds like a fixed mindset. I have become so aware of how mired we are in habitual ways of thinking.
What about you? Do you take the time to observe your own mindset? I’d love to hear from you, contact me and let’s talk!