There is a lot we don’t know about this world. There is a lot more that we don’t know about the way our minds work. Sure, we have some ideas and some research that points to those certain ideas. We have a hunch that body language can shape our confidence, we have a hunch that our IQ scores aren’t really all that and so on and so forth. Joining this body of scientific research and now quite a credible movement is the idea of mindsets.
Mindset, as defined by Dr Carol Dweck, a Stanford Researcher and discoverer of this phenomenon, is
“a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—a simple idea that makes all the difference. In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”
Mindsets, affect our personal and professional lives and Dr Dweck, writes in her book Mindset, that having the right mindset is imperative for anyone who hopes to grow and achieve successes in their lives. Individuals with a growth mindset, are eager to learn and grow and embrace difficulties, whereas individuals with a fixed mindset are more inclined to give up during difficult tasks and demanding situations. Also, those with a growth mindset, are better at dealing with failures as they believe they can learn to succeed than those who have a fixed mindset, who often believe that all they have is all they will ever know.
Dr Dweck’s research can be applied to almost anyone in any situation. She says that there are four steps to recognizing and changing a mindset.
Step 1 – Recognizing a Mindset
Step 2 – Recognizing that people have a choice
Step 3 – Approach it with a Growth Mindset
Step 4 – Learn to Work it out with a Growth Mindset
Starting from the start –
Step 1 – Recognizing a Mindset is as Dr Dweck puts it, is recognizing the little voice in your head.
“As you approach a challenge, that voice might say to you “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.” “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure” “People will laugh at you for thinking you had talent.” “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”
As you hit a setback, the voice might say, “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.” “You see, I told you it was a risk. Now you’ve gone and shown the world how limited you are.” “ It’s not too late to back out, make excuses, and try to regain your dignity.”
As you face criticism, you might hear yourself say, “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.” You might feel yourself getting angry at the person who is giving you feedback. “Who do they think they are? I’ll put them in their place.” The other person might be giving you specific, constructive feedback, but you might be hearing them say “I’m really disappointed in you. I thought you were capable but now I see you’re not.”
Step 2 – Recognizing that people have a choice is how you interact with and perceive your situation.
“You can interpret them in a fixed mindset as signs that your fixed talents or abilities are lacking. Or you can interpret them in a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.”
Step 3 – Approaching it with a growth mindset is taking the problem apart, and challenging your inner voice in a manner that allows you to grow and face the situation in a new way.
“HE 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?”
Step 4 – Learning to work it out with a growth mindset is when we teach ourselves to work through a situation and take it as a learning experience rather than an end goal.
While mindsets can be written off as reflecting a set of beliefs, there is solid science that shows that those mindsets affect us in very real ways and hence it is important that we recognize and alter these mindsets.
Here is Dr Dweck’s TED Talk about mindsets –