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
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.
There are some key advantages to adopting a growth mindset in your business and career.
The most obvious consequence of a growth mindset is that there are endless opportunities to be had. Pursuing continuous improvement fundamentally means that you constantly have chances to get better at what you do.
This should lead to an ever-higher standard of excellence and more consistent levels of satisfaction in your work as you learn to appreciate everything, positive or negative, as a learning experience. Success is defined as having grasped something new, rather than immediate gratification.
Challenges and setbacks take on a far more positive light with a growth mindset. Struggles are part of a journey, criticisms are key to improvement and change is always a good thing for the learning opportunities it brings.
Persistence is a defining characteristic of growth-focused thinkers, with adversity simply driving forward improvement in order to overcome it. Constructive feedback is vital to an effective learning strategy so that appropriate goals and standards can be set for the future.
A subtle competitive attitude allows for a better appreciation for the successes of others. As such, someone with a growth mindset can more easily find inspiration for their own attainment in the actions of peers and influencers.
The basis for growth is a belief that anyone can improve and develop through hard work, searching for learning opportunities and insights. Consider how you think of your skills and abilities. Just a tweak to incorporate a more “growth mindset” about your talents will serve you well.
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