Do you have a Fixed or Growth Mindset?
The beliefs that you hold about yourself will have a massive impact on your life. Your beliefs will permeate every part of your life. Much of your personality grows out of the beliefs you hold about yourself. So it’s worth remembering that the views you hold of yourself will profoundly affect the way you lead your life.
We all find ourselves in situations every day of our lives when we are required to make choices. Many of these choices we make subconsciously as we almost try to get ‘confirmation of our intelligence’. When faced with a decision we might naturally ask ourselves:
“Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or stupid? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”
Think about how children behave; they constantly try new things. If you’re a parent you’ll know they constantly have accidents and incidents. When a toddler starts to try and walk for example, they will keep falling down – they don’t give up and say “I can’t do this” instead they pick themselves up and persevere until they succeed. They don’t think they are failing, they think they are learning.
In an experiment, some 4 year old children were given a puzzle to complete. Once they had completed it, they were given a choice; to do the same puzzle again, or move on to a more challenging puzzle. Some children chose to do the same puzzle again and some chose a more challenging puzzle, thinking why would they do that again when they could learn something new? The children who decided to do the same puzzle again had a more fixed mindset, and the ones who wanted to explore and learn more had a more growth mindset.
A great book covering all aspects of Mindset is Carol Dwek’s book MINDSET, where she talks about the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In its most basic terms, if you have a fixed mindset, you tend to believe that you are the person you are, and you can’t change that. Your beliefs are carved in stone.
This can lead to a host of thoughts and actions that take you down a path; that the world is out to get me. “My life is pitiful, life is unfair. I am stupid. Nothing good happens to me.”
So can you see how a fixed mindset would limit your achievement?
A person with a fixed mindset might believe that their early performance tells them all they need to know about their talent, intelligence and what they can expect from their life and their future. This person might believe that certain tests, like an IQ test, or psychological tests will tell them how smart they are, what they are like. And that’s it. They accept that they are who they are, and nothing much will change about them, throughout their life.
It’s worth pointing out that the IQ test was developed to see how smart people were, but the test only identifies a persons IQ at that moment in time, it does not determine your IQ forever!
With a growth mindset you believe that everything can change, that you can change. You believe that your situation is just for this moment, and if you want to change things you can. You hold a belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and learning from others.
Those people with a growth mindset don’t seek challenge; they thrive on it. They have an obsession with learning, discovering, developing and pushing into new ground, new territory, to learn more and change things. They have a passion for stretching themselves and sticking to it, even – or especially – when things aren’t going well.
This allows people with a growth mindset to thrive during challenging times. Exceptional people have an ability to convert setbacks into future successes.
Neither mindset is right or wrong. Of course, you can chose to have a fixed mindset on some stuff and a growth mindset on other stuff. With a growth mindset, you believe things you don’t like about yourself or your life can be changed.
You can change your mindset. It’s all about what you choose to believe, and you can change what you believe
Remember, the greatest people on earth were not born great; they all started in a place when they didn’t know what they were doing. They messed up, failed, tried again, persisted, learnt and they developed and changed.
Don’t allow people to constrain you, or limit your choices, goals, aspirations, ambitions or dreams.
If you are not aware to it, a fixed mindset can be cultivated for you by people around you. Your partner or parent might inadvertently say “Oh I wouldn’t go for that promotion at work, I am not sure you have enough experience” which was perhaps meant as an innocent piece of advice, but you take it on board as a possible ‘truth’ and immediately your confidence is knocked, your belief in your capability is reduced.
You end up with a new belief about yourself that may be far from the truth. So make sure you surround yourself with people who match your ambitions and dreams. Don’t accept that what people say about you is true!
Get your advice from growth mindset people – people who believe anything is possible. Learn from people who are living the life you are after.
Successful people don’t get lucky or get success over night. They work hard, try hard, they fail a lot, they go again. They are resilient and persistent. They have failed morE, and learnt more, and they don’t give up.
“I can’t do it, it’s not for me, I am not deserving” are the beliefs of a person with a fixed mindset.
“Anything is possible. I will try new things, discover things and keep on learning and pushing” are the beliefs and thoughts of a person with a growth mindset.
You can change the way you are, the things you don’t like about yourself and your life.
Be bold and brave. Think big and act big.