Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that if you have to work hard at something, then success in that activity is not meant to be. The problem with the fixed mindset is that it is limiting. Is it true that if you are not already an expert in your field, you'll never have some level of expertise? Achieving this takes an incredible amount of grit and commitment to focusing on the process and not the outcome, topics I've written about in other posts.
I came across Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck’s work on mindset sometime last year, which led me to read her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
In this book, Dweck explores the concepts of growth and fixed mindsets, connecting these ideas to parenting, business, school, and relationships. Dweck describes the fixed mindset as the belief that your talents, intelligence, and abilities are carved in stone. Growth mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through effort.
The difference between fixed and growth mindsets
Those with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence or abilities are static traits that can not be further developed. They think that things are just the way they are. For instance, if you are weak at statistical analyses with a fixed mindset, you think that no amount of effort can improve your analytical ability. You believe that your analytic ability is static and has been predetermined by your genes and/or upbringing or prior experiences.
You view your limitations as permanent and you shy away from trying new things. In the face of challenges, you fear that your deficiencies will be unmasked and that the truth about your abilities will be revealed.
Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that if you have to work hard at something, then success in that activity is not meant to be. The problem with the fixed mindset is that it is limiting. Is it true that if you are not already an expert in your field, you’ll never have some level of expertise? Achieving this takes an incredible amount of grit and commitment to focusing on the process and not the outcome, topics I’ve written about in other posts.
People with a growth mindset believe that their skills and talents are malleable and can be developed. This group of people believe that these skills, talents, and abilities can be cultivated and strengthened over time.
But how does one move from a fixed to a growth mindset?
Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset
Dr. Dweck explains that while people differ considerably—in aptitude, talents, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience. Innate talent is a real thing.
However, talent alone is not enough. Those we see as talented have invested an inordinate amount of time and effort to strengthen their skills and abilities.
In her book, Dr. Dweck notes that it is possible to have fixed and growth mindsets about different activities. The goal, however, should be to discover the triggers that lead us to possess a limiting mindset about specific activities.
Dr. Dweck explains that we should shift from a “now” mindset to a “not yet” mindset. You may not be good now, but with encouragement and practice, you can get better.
Changing our mindset creates a shift in the way we approach the challenges that arise on our journey to achieving our short and long-term goals.
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