I’m a firm believer that your mindset holds the key to your overall success or failure in life. So, when I came across mindset ideas and concepts developed by Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University, I was intrigued.
You see, Dweck believes that there are two distinct mindsets and each has different qualities and beliefs. One is a fixed mindset and the other one a growth mindset. Her theory is that people with a fixed mindset have a more difficult time finding success. I tend to agree with her.
People with a fixed mindset believe their qualities are inherent and cannot change or be changed. They believe that their inherent qualities — the talent they acquired through genetics — is the sole contributor to their success. Fixed mindset people are stuck in the present because they believe the way they are now is the best they can be. They are afraid of challenges because that’s an attack on their perfect, talented self and they don’t see the need to learn from or improve upon where they are today. They give up easily because they believe that success is predestined and when it doesn’t happen, it’s hopeless to try to change the situation. Their failures are blamed on external forces, things they feel they can’t control. All this keeps them firmly inside their comfort zone.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that their intellect and talent can grow or improve through their experiences and through their learning. Challenges are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. Dweck describes it as the “power of yet” indicating there is something in the future that when realized, and with some effort, will make success even more possible. It’s your potential. Rachel Hollis perhaps said it best. “Not having the knowledge just makes you teachable, not stupid. Not being in shape just makes you moldable, not lazy. Not having the experience just makes you eager, not ignorant.” You’re just not there yet. But, with a growth mindset, you will be.
Having a growth mindset means you acknowledge your weaknesses and you figure out how to improve upon them rather than allow them to be limiting beliefs as fixed mindset people often do. Those limiting beliefs carry over to goals as well, drowning out what might be possible for those with a fixed mindset. Growth mindset goals, on the other hand, are usually optimistic, yet realistic and people with a growth mindset are persistent and courageous in pursuing them. They trust and enjoy the learning process and ensure their goals are in sync with their sense of purpose.
I have always considered myself a life-long learner and I’d say that puts me firmly in the growth mindset category. I truly don’t believe that we are born with all the intellect, abilities and talent we’re ever going to have and that we have no room to grow. Talk about limiting beliefs and a boring life! I’m learning from my mistakes, embracing challenges, pushing myself outside my comfort zone and improving every day. My goals are realistic and optimistic. Some are even what I call “stretch goals.” I am learning to trust and enjoy the journey and I am finding a new sense of purpose.
So, which mindset resonates with you?