If you look into fixed and growth mindsets you will find that Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, is well known in this area. She is one of the leading psychologists in this field. In 2007, Dweck published Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, and to date her book has sold well over two million copies worldwide. In it, she explains the differences between people who have a fixed mindset versus those with a growth mindset. According to Dweck, mindset determines the way we deal with tough situations and setbacks. It also determines our willingness to improve ourselves and how we think about our personality, what we are passionate about and our goals.
A predominately fixed mindset means that you believe your attributes, intelligence and abilities are inherently fixed and unchangeable. In other words, you’re as smart as you’ll ever be. This leads to the desire to look smart in front of other people and a tendency to avoid challenges, to be defensive and to give up easily. A person with a fixed mindset will ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. The outcome of all of this is that you achieve less than your full potential.
However, if you have a predominately growth mindset, then you see things differently. You see your level of intelligence, skill, talent and success as the starting point with the capacity to grow. You believe that there are numerous stepping stones toward development and improvement. This mindset is founded on the belief that your initial qualities can be cultivated and grown with dedication, time and hard work. You believe you can get better and smarter, and you can be flexible. This leads to a desire to learn, to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism and find lessons or inspiration in the success of others. This will lead you to study, to learn and to put the work into expanding your mind in order to become more intelligent.
In 2015 Bill Gates posted an article on his blog Gates Notes. He explained that Dweck’s book has had a big impact on him. In the last paragraph of his article, he says this “The greatest virtue of the book is that you can’t help but ask yourself things like, ‘Which areas have I always looked at through a fixed-mindset lens?’ ”
If you want to use positive thinking to help you grow and develop, then you need to examine those areas of your life where you have had a predominately fixed mindset. To do this, you need to be aware of the mindset you adopt in a given situation because this will affect your behaviour and can greatly influence the outcome of a situation or any challenges you face.
Here are tips and suggestions to help you develop a growth mindset. Yes, some may be easier than others but try them and, preserver, practice and don’t give up!
Accept your imperfections – work on improving and developing those skills you don’t find so easy. Don’t simply give up just because you’re not the best at something.
Focus on your growth rather than speed – take time to explore ideas and develop new skills that to help you improve, allowing for complications or setbacks along the way. You won’t gain anything by rushing through tasks half-heartedly.
Think of challenges or failure as part of the learning process – everyone faces obstacles, challenges and defeats, but the way that you respond to them can make the difference between success and failure. Try to ‘take on’ these challenges and use them as an opportunity for growth.
Value the ‘process over the end goal’ – enjoy the entire process and don’t just focus on the outcome.
Always make new goals – as soon as you’ve achieved one goal, make another. Always set out to learn more and never be complacent. You’ll have a sense of purpose knowing you are constantly working towards something better.
If you think positively and start to action some of these suggestions , you are already demonstrating more of a growth mindset. This should make you confident in your ability to adopt, improve and face the challenges you encounter both personally and professionally in a constructive way.