Stanford Professor Carol S. Dweck is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. This book looks at the ways we can use our very own thoughts to succeed, by creating a healthy positive growth mindset… This is in comparison to a fixed mindset that may be holding you back from doing the things you strive for.
What is a mindset?
A mindset by dictionary definition is ‘the established set of attitudes held by someone’. Whether that set of attitudes is fixed or able to grow is entirely up to each individual being.
I consider mindset a key life, success, and productivity tool. Mindset is so important to me, that for years I’ve paid to have a mindset coach just to help me continue to practice growing and mentally, getting out of my own way.
What is a fixed mindset?
A fixed mindset is a term for a set of attitudes where someone feels that there is no space for change. Their mindset goes one of two ways; either they think that they were born to be talented in a certain area and practice isn’t needed for them to excel or (and more commonly the case) they think that they are naturally not meant to excel in an area and that practice will do nothing to help them.
Both are fixed on thinking that there is no improvement available to them.
An individual with a fixed mindset often believes things happen to them… that they are a victim of circumstance. This often limits the individual.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset on the other hand allows you to achieve your goals and desires or expand on your talents.
Someone who has a growth mindset believes that through practice and hard work, both weak and strong abilities can be improved upon. That there is an ever-changing path that can always be taken.
An individual with a growth mindset doesn’t often feel as if they are a victim of circumstance, as they trust their ability to change the situation or outcome.
What is a false growth mindset?
A false growth mindset is when someone believes they have a growth mindset, when they do not,or when they think that they never have a fixed mindset. It’s important to note that everyone has a mixture of these two mindsets within them. Even people who are primarily in a growth mindset have triggers which can take them out of the primary mindset for a period of time.
Triggers for a fixed mindset can be anything from thinking you aren’t good enough when looking at someone else’s work, to being in uncomfortable situations where you don’t feel adequate enough or that you aren’t as good at something as people think you are (this one is common in the online business space and is referred to as imposter syndrome).
It’s very important to know these triggers and to start working with them instead of against them. Working against them can develop a false growth mindset.
How can you obtain or protect a growth mindset?
There are a few things you can do:
- Experiment with learning strategies to expand knowledge and skills, even if you feel you already know everything on that topic or can’t get any better at a skill. Continuing to learn helps you flex your mindset ‘muscle’.
- Asking for feedback and using negative feedback to improve by making changes. Rather than letting feedback hurt you, treat feedback for what it is: a gift! It’s a gift that allows you to see something you otherwise wouldn’t see, so you can improve it.
- Choosing challenging goals and having the persistence to reach them. When things get hard, keep pushing forward. Remind yourself of the hard things you’ve done in the past and how each of those is evidence that you can do hard things and you will get through this as well.
- Stop thinking that you can’t reach success or that you have reached all of the success that you can. There is always room for growth. I witnessed this first hand as I consulted Fortune 10 Executives, making over 7-figures a year in total compensation. Just like none of us are exempt from struggling with mindset, none of us are exempt from learning something new.
Successful people can have a fixed mindset without knowing it. Growth mindsets are not 100% and it’s important to understand that. You should always be learning, working towards your goals, and developing new skills. Make sure you grab a copy of Carol’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (affiliate link) to learn more.