fixed mindset vs growth mindset
A world recognised psychologist Carol Dweck spent decades of her life researching and studying the behaviour of children, this lead to the phenomena of the growth and fixed mindset! Modern neuroscience has shown us that the brain can be changed more than we originally thought, if you would like to learn how to “train your brain” click here. Before we look at the differences between what a growth mindset is and what a fixed mindset is, we firstly need to know what mindset means…
What does mindset mean?
In short a mindset is how a person perceives and reacts to the world around them, this is made up of assumptions, methods, or notations. It’s a persons attitude towards what is going on around them, a philosophy of life you could say. A mindset strongly influences behaviours, choices and ideas that a person might have.
What is a growth mindset?
There is a psychological trait that all successful people appear to have in common, the growth mindset! A term first coined by Carol Dweck. So what does it mean? People with a growth mindset believe Intelligence and skill in any field can be developed through effort, meaning that anyone can nurture their abilities in anything. This concept has been co-signed by Bill Gates and even NASA uses it as a criteria of recruiting potential candidates for system engineers. Lots of research suggests that people who have a growth mindset become more successful than people with a fixed mindset, one study in Chile found that poorer students with a growth mindset performed just as good as richer students who had a fixed mindset. People with a growth mindset tend to be more resilient, which allows them to overcome challenging and difficult situations. As failure isn’t a setback for someone with a growth mindset they are less afraid of taking risks meaning that they priorities improvement over stagnation. A person with a growth mindset believes that they’re in a state of plasticity and transformation, so they don’t attach their identity to their results, instead they focus on the process and learning. Remember “your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” – Zig Ziglar
What is a fixed mindset?
If someone has a fixed mindset they would believe that no matter how much time and effort they put into something they cannot gain any more intelligence on it nor better any skills. No matter weather a fixed minded person is naturally clever or not, they believe that they can’t change and are static, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. This would suggest that our behaviour is only biological and that it is inherited, and nurturing our brain by practising will not help in any way. However people with a fixed mindset do strive for success its just that above all they try to avoid failure, unlike a person with a growth mindset would, as they would see it as a challenge and a way of learning something new. A person with a fixed mindset doesn’t want to challenge themselves because they believe talent and Intelligence are fixed, so if they fail something they would take it personal and feel it was an insult to them as a person, to them lack of knowledge Is an indicator of stupidity and would think failure once meant failure.
Are you sat there thinking “I think I have both”? Well Carol Dweck has elaborated on this point and said being either a person with a fixed or growth mindset is on a spectrum and they’re not two separate entities. We can also use the two different mindsets in different situations, in some areas of life we may operate with the growth mindset and other times we may operate with a fixed mindset. Imagine it like two pairs of glasses, some people wear the growth glasses more and others wear the fixed glasses more, but we should aim to wear the growth glasses more, you could say “seeing the world through growth tinted glasses” do you think that you have a predominantly fixed mindset but would like to develop a growth mindset? If so keep reading!
How to develop a growth mindset
Step 1: Realize that you are able to improve
This might seem obvious but it’s one of the first things you need to do to develop a growth mindset. Neuroscience has helped further our knowledge in that our brains are very malleable and through training our brain we can grow and improve it. Another study was done on taxi drivers and they found that they had more grey matter in the brain, to help them navigate through big city’s.
Step 2: Stop the “fixed mindset” inner voice
Have you ever thought “I can’t do this” or “I think it’s a bad idea” and maybe with any luck you do still try it and then you get the guilt chatterbox if you fail “ I told you not to do it” and “ back out now, other people wouldn’t of noticed” no you can’t really stop the inner voice, but you can control it. You need to try and realise when it’s happening and look for triggers. Try to flip them into positives. “I can do this if I put the effort in”
Step 3: Reward the process
We’ve been brought up being praised for our talents “your so smart” although this seems nice it can actually worsen your work ethic instead praise the process, reward yourself for the effort you’ve put in, not the results that you’ve received. Carol Dweck did a study on this where she rewarded effort over results on a maths game and found that it improves performance.
Step 4: Push the limits
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there” so if you want to have a growth mindset, you’ve got to push your own boundaries and progressively set new limits. When faced with a new challenge always choose the harder option or the one you can grow most from. “find the beauty in the path less traveled”
Step 5: Embrace your imperfection’s
Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them. Acknowledge that you have weaknesses and see them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Nobody is perfect and everyone has something they can improve on, so just let it happen.
These are going to take time to practice and implement into your life, I think Carol Dweck puts it best in this quote “The path to a growth mindset Is a lifelong journey, not a proclamation” so if you’re dedicated you can do this, don’t be too hard on yourself during the process.