When we see people accomplish incredible things, we quickly conclude that their success is due to sheer genetic luck, superior talent, or unlimited resources.
But this belief is not only wrong, it also hinders our personal progress and limits our potential.
While success can be significantly impacted by those variables, all things being equal, the difference between those who realize their goals and those who hold themselves back is primarily one thing: their mindset.
Few things are as fundamental to us as our mindset. It determines our development - how we learn, what goals we set for ourselves, how we approach challenges and problems.
American psychology professor Carol Dweck has been studying this topic for thirty years and is considered one of the world's leading experts on motivation and developmental psychology.
She found that there are two fundamentally different mindsets that determine our lives: The Fixed Mindset vs. The Growth Mindset.
PEOPLE WITH A GROWTH MINDSET:
- see mistakes as an opportunity to grow
- Are curious to learn more about things they don't know yet
- Are convinced that they can further develop their skills
PEOPLE WITH A FIXED MINDSET:
- believe that whether you can do something or not depends on your talent
- learn in order to receive positive feedback (for example, praise)
- see mistakes as a threat and personal humiliation
If you believe that your qualities are unchangeable — the fixed mindset — you will want to prove yourself correct over and over rather than learning from your mistakes.
This robs you of important development opportunities.
The Growth Mindset, on the other hand, opens us up to those developments and is thus crucial for success.
Our ideas about risk and effort come from our mindset. Some people realize the value of challenging themselves, they want to put in the effort to learn and grow. Others, however, would rather avoid the effort feeling like it doesn’t matter.
How did your parents and/or teachers praise you as you were growing up? Did they tell you how “smart” you were or did they focus on how hard you worked?
The former promotes a Fixed Mindset (you are smart regardless of how much or little effort you put in) while the latter supports a Growth Mindset (if you put in the effort, you can change).
Dweck writes about a high school in Chicago where students got the grade “Not Yet” if they didn’t pass a course. If you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve.
How we word things affects confidence, the words ‘yet’ or ‘not yet,’ “give us greater confidence, give us a path into the future that creates greater persistence.”
You may be asking yourself, that's all well and good, but what's the point if I'm trapped in a Fixed Mindset?
The good news is: We can change mindsets.
10 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
- Throw away your perfectionism and accept your imperfections as part of your humanity
- Face your challenges bravely
- Pay attention to the words you use and the thoughts you believe
- Stop seeking the approval of others
- Cultivate a sense of purpose
- Value the process over the end result
- Learn from the mistakes of others
- Take risks in the company of others
- Be realistic
- Speed is not important. "Not yet" is OK.
In worrisome times like these, we are all forced to practice Growth Mindset in so many ways - in some big moments, in others on a smaller scale - to find ways to deal with crises.
It is a huge learning curve that each and every one of us is on.
Finding strategies to work around problems and setbacks that always come up, being inspired by the work and success of others, listening to feedback, reflecting on and learning from mistakes, pushing ourselves to learn new things, being creative, managing vulnerability and risk, finding courage, and exploring our curiosity are all facets of the Growth Mindset that we can observe in our close environment and globally.