Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?

“If you believe you can learn what it takes to create your own success at work and in life, congratulations — you have a growth mindset.

~Carol Dweck

Sally (not her real name) got her coaching certification and started to build her coaching practice.

She worked at building her coaching practice for a few years and coached some clients but she wasn’t earning enough to support herself without a part-time job.

Sally wanted to coach people but didn’t want to do the marketing to attract new clients.  She was challenged by learning technology and didn’t want to learn anything new or keep up with the tech trends.

Sally has a fixed mindset.

She didn’t like the challenges of running a business.

Her negative self-talk reinforced how much she hated technology. 

Sally’s thinking focused on the things she didn’t like to do so she failed notice the progress she was making toward her goals.

Her inner critic kept telling her why her business wouldn’t work and how much effort she would have to put into tasks she didn’t like.

Sally felt frustration and anxiety, and decided to quit working on her business.  She gave up her dream.

According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, there are two types of mindsets – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

If you believe your talents can be developed by working hard and using good strategies then you have a growth mindset.

You’re less worried about looking smart and you put more time into learning.

Everyone is actually a blend of fixed and growth mindsets, which  continually evolves with experience.  A pure mindset doesn’t exist.

To stay in a growth mindset, you need to work with your triggers.

With a fixed mindset:

  • You believe your intelligence and talent is not changeable.
  • You’re concerned about judgment, which can make you feel self-conscious and anxious.
  • You tend to avoid challenges and obstacles and give up easily.
  • You don’t fulfill your full potential (and this causes you to feel badly about yourself).

With a growth mindset:

  • You have a passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it even when the going gets tough.
  • You believe that you can improve and change your personality traits over time.
  • You work hard to keep learning, and you take risks and embrace challenges even when you’re feeling stressed.
  • You believe talents and abilities can be developed through hard work, good strategies and mentoring (you seek help from others).
  • You turn your inner critic into your coach.
  • You learn from your setbacks.

The good news is that you can grow your mindset.

You can have a fixed mindset in one area and a growth mindset in another area.  There’s a spectrum.

Dweck tells her students to expect that their journey to success will be filled with obstacles but if you can work with your mindset, you’ll get there.

How to move towards a growth mindset:

  • Every time you work on a hard task and stick to it, the neurons in your brain form new connections and you get smarter!
  • Challenge yourself all the time – do not quit and stick to them.
  • Take your setbacks and turn them into valuable information – what worked and didn’t work and try it again.
  • Begin to think the way people with a growth mindset think — the future presents an opportunity to grow, even during challenging times.

Dweck collaborated with other researchers as part of a National Study of Learning Mindsets in 2019.

The research examined the effects of a short, online growth mindset intervention in a nationally representative sample of high schools in the United States (Fig. 1).

The study showed that lower-achieving students improved grades after  less than a one hour, by taking an online growth mindset intervention class that teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed.

This is good news because if schools start teaching mindset to middle schoolers, they’ll be able to learn that the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger and smarter as it goes through challenging learning experiences.

This is good news for the rest of us because a growth mindset can be learned.

Developing a growth mindset is a lifelong journey of monitoring the thoughts that trigger you and taking on challenges, sticking to them and learning from them.

You have a unique set of skills that will lead to a unique contribution if you stick to what you’re doing.

Start today and take action daily to move through the challenges, you’ll achieve your dreams.

Do you think you have a fixed or growth mindset?  I’d love to hear about your experience with mindset.  Please share your comments below.

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