The power of a growth mindset
Are qualities such as ability, talent, and intelligence relatively fixed? Or can they change? And what impact would that simple belief, either way, have on your career?
As it turns out, changing your belief about what you are capable of has profound implications.
People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Dr. Carol Dweck.
Carol Dweck has carried out extensive research into mindset. Her work revealed that thinking can fall into two groups: one, that qualities are fixed and cannot change, and two, that everything you possess can be developed, augmented, and improved. Whether you have a fixed or a growth mindset changes the way you lean into tasks and situations. If you believe you can learn and grow, your attitude is more likely to be one of ‘can do’, and this enthusiasm extends to a natural resilience as the future becomes at least partly yours to shape. Failure becomes a springboard for growth, and the willingness to confront challenges activates this growth and improvement. It should come as no surprise therefore that this mindset a strongly linked to greater happiness and levels of achievement.
If you have a largely fixed mindset, mistakes remain just that, missed opportunities or ‘failures’, encouraging efforts in avoidance of risks or strategies for proving ourselves over and over. Learning and growth is inevitably diminished and sometimes almost completely stunted.
Hard work and persistence are most useful if you actually believe you can change something! So does this mean we are stuck in one or the other? Absolutely not, reports Dweck. We all have the potential to change. In reality, we are not one or the other, but a mix of both. Other common misperceptions about the growth mindset are that talking about it is enough, and that is it just activated by praising effort. We need to encourage people to take some measure of risk and then support them in doing so – promoting collaboration and learning. Efforts must also be productive leading to positive outcomes, and that only comes from deep engagement in the process of trying out approaches, asking for help, and owning up to things that didn’t go so well so that we can learn better ways.
Applying this mindset back to our busy work days can start with a quick audit and reflection:
- In the last seven days, when have I displayed a fixed mindset?
- In the last seven days, when have I displayed a growth mindset?
- Which mindset worked out, and why?
- When would I like to adopt a growth mindset more often? And how?
You could also think about people who embody this mindset, how do they act and talk? How do they approach tricky situations? How do they handle being wrong? What strategies could work for you?
There are plenty of other suggestions on PositivePsychology.com. Take a look here.
A few small changes could have a profound impact on the opportunities that start to come your way.