In the past, people believed that our essential qualities, like intelligence or talent, where traits fixed at birth. And consequently, many spent their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. Falsely believing that talent alone creates success -without effort. Until, a Stanford University Psychologist and Researcher, Carol Dweck came along and proved that they were wrong.
Dweck says, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
Dweck’s work takes us on a journey into how our conscious and unconscious thoughts affect us and how something as simple as wording can have a powerful impact on our ability to improve. How the power of our most basic beliefs. Whether conscious or subconscious, can strongly “affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.” Much of what we think we understand of our personality comes from our “mindset.” This both propels us and prevents us from fulfilling our potential.
If you believe your qualities are unchangeable, your fixed mindset will want to prove that over and over again instead of focusing on learning from your mistakes.
Developing a growth mindset is perhaps more easily understood with this memorable metaphor: that the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger and smarter when it undergoes rigorous learning experiences. So for those with a growth mindset—brains and talent are just the starting point.
Learning the growth mindset can reap lots of benefits, it helps creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships, and is at the heart of innovation. And virtually all great people have had these qualities.
How can you change from a fixed to a growth mindset?
I like to think of addressing my fixed mindset rather like trying to take out an enemy sniper. Our fixed mindset thoughts tend to stay camouflaged amongst our many thought ‘voices’. As with a sniper, we often don’t know where these ‘voices’ originate from, and they are challenging to locate precisely. What’s needed then is a counter-sniper tactic.
What could this counter-sniper tactic look like in practice. First, you have to know what to be on the lookout for, and once identified, then you’ll need a strategy to counter the sniper's unfriendly fire.
Here are three easy steps:
1. Identifying your inner fixed mindset “voice”.
Your fixed mindset voice is likely to sound loudest when you are faced with a challenge, setback or criticism. Remember, it’s important not to judge yourself for having this “voice”. At this stage, what we want to do is use our powers of observation to detect and mark where to start to target change.
As you approach a challenge, setback or criticism, you may hear thoughts like:
· “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”
· “This would’ve been easy if you really had the talent.”
· “It’s not my fault; it was something or someone else’s fault.”
2. Challenge the fixed mindset with a growth mindset statement.
Dweck suggestions the following,
When you are approached by a challenge
FIXED-MINDSET says “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”
THE GROWTH-MINDSET answers, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.”
FIXED MINDSET: “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “Most successful people had failures along the way.”
FIXED MINDSET: “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t try, I automatically fail. Where’s the dignity in that?”
As you hit a setback
FIXED MINDSET: “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “That is so wrong. Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.
As you face criticism
FIXED MINDSET: “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is– and learn whatever I can.”
3. Practice, practice, practice
Try to hear both voices and each time practice choosing the growth mindset way of thinking. You’ll be surprised how quickly your motivation rises, and you begin to see challenges as your springboard to success.
A word of warning
One of the misconceptions I often see when speaking to people about mindsets is that they wrongly believe they already have a growth mindset. Often people confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook — qualities they believe they’ve always had. A “pure” growth mindset doesn’t exist, and you have to acknowledge this fact, in order to attain the benefits you seek. The truth is, we all have a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets at play in our thought processes and that is why it’s super important to keep listening without judgement to our inner voices.
The great news is that you’ve already done some of the work towards improving your growth mindset by reading this post. Apparently, the simple act of reading about the research can have a significant and measurable impact on your attitude and learning performance.
So if you’ve reached this far, what that we’ve learned here today, can you take forwards?
Ref: Carol Dweck (2017) Mindset, Revised Edition, Robinson, London