Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? According to Carol Dweck, PH.D. in her book Mindset, she states that we all have one or the other. The fixed mindset is a belief that your qualities are carved in stone. You are who you are and it matters little what you do about it. This mindset means you either think you are smart or not smart and that’s just the way it is. Failure means “you’re not smart”; therefore, you avoid putting yourself in a position where you might fail.
The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, and very little is set in stone.
So what does this mean? It means the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want. How can a simple belief have the power to transform your life?
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? Although people may differ in every which way such as talents, aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — the growth mindset says that everyone can change and grow through application and experience. This mindset doesn’t mean you can become anything you want, but it does believe that a person’s true potential is unknowable; that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with YEARS OF PASSION, TOIL, AND TRAINING.
Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was completely uncoordinated and graceless as a child. Cindy Sherman, considered one of the twentieth century’s most important artists, failed her first photography course. Donald Trump, in 1997 was considered by many to be a complete failure; today he is regarded as a business and architectural genius. Henry Ford, ridiculed because of his lack of formal education, has created a legacy with his name.
So what mindset have you adopted? Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you and push you to grow? Why seek out the tried and true instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, especially when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset where you will thrive during some of the most challenging times in life.