One of the most fascinating things I have learned recently is that each of us fall into one of two general categories according to our beliefs about our abilities, talents, personalities and intellect. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, writes people with a fixed mindset believe these qualities are fixed at birth and are not likely to change over time. Those with this belief need to prove to themselves and to others they possess these qualities in abundant measure. They don’t want to do anything that makes them appear to be lacking. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset, believe everyone can change and grow with effort and experience. It’s their view we don’t know how far we can progress with passion and training.
This may seem insignificant until we understand each of us forms the belief about ourselves and which mindset we possess at a very early age. While we don’t even realize we have these beliefs, how we see ourselves affects virtually everything we do in life. When you view life from the fixed mindset, each situation faced is a confirmation of one’s intelligence, personality or character. People with a fixed mindset ask themselves: will I succeed or fail? Will I look dumb or smart? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I win or will I lose? Further, they will be very reluctant, if not refuse, to tackle tasks which would confirm they don’t measure up.
On the other hand, those with a growth mindset do not label themselves or give up when things get tough. These are the people who look for a challenge and keep working when things look bleak. They want the harder puzzle or most difficult problem to try and figure out. Not mastering it does not mean failure to them; just more time and effort are needed. They don’t feel badly about themselves or feel discouraged.
I know which mindset I have! It’s fascinating to look at ourselves, our kids and even our grandchildren and see which mindset we each have and then consider how our mindset is affecting our lives. Pam and I can already clearly see mindset beliefs in our young grandchildren. It’s both eye opening and helpful to understand ourselves and others and to know we can change a mindset that’s not serving us well. Which mindset are you?
Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end up really becoming incapable of doing it. If on the contrary I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.
- Mahatma Gandhi