Karen Darrin

Much of who you are on a day-to-day basis comes from your mindset. Your mindset is the view you have of your qualities and characteristics – where they come from and whether they can change.

For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. – Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success discerned between two attitudes: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe talent is everything. If they’re not gifted with the ability to do something, they think they’re doomed to be a failure. Their skills seem to be written down in their genes, just like their looks, which is why they never try to improve in something they suck at.

To contrast that, people with a growth mindset believe that whatever they want to achieve is theirs for the taking, as long as they work hard for it, dedicate themselves to their goal and practice as much as they can.

It’s very possible to be somewhere in the middle and to lean a certain way in one area of life, and a different way in other areas. Dweck writes about them as a simple either-or throughout the book for the sake of simplicity. Your mindset likely varies from area to area. Your views may be different for artistic talent, intelligence, personality, or creativity. Whatever mindset you have in a particular area will guide you in that area.

How does this simple mindset change your behavior?

Having a fixed mindset creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over – criticism is seen as an attack on your character, and to be avoided.

Having a growth mindset encourages learning and effort. If you truly believe you can improve at something, you will be much more driven to learn and practice. Criticism is seen as valuable feedback and openly embraced. The hallmark of the growth mindset is the passion for sticking with it, especially when things are not going well.

As Dweck says:

The fixed mindset stands in the way of development and change. The growth mindset is a starting point for change, but people need to decide for themselves where their efforts toward change would be most valuable.

People with the fixed mindset are not simply lacking in confidence, though their confidence may be more fragile and more easily undermined by setbacks and effort. Also, having a growth mindset doesn’t mean you have to be working hard all the time. It just means you can develop whatever skills you want to put the time and effort into.