Fixed mindset vs growth mindset

Do you believe there are certain things you’ll never achieve simply because you don’t have the necessary skills? Or, do you think you can learn how to do anything?

If you answered yes to the first question, you’re most likely someone with a fixed mindset, whereas if you answered yes to the second, you’re probably someone with a growth mindset. Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, delves deeper into the two mindsets in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. She explains just how powerful they are, playing a part in almost every aspect of our lives from career to mental health to relationships. Dweck’s research found that one of the most common beliefs we have about ourselves is that we attach certain attributes to being part of our personality. Those with a fixed mindset believe things like intelligence and creative ability are fixed parts of their personality and therefore things they can’t change. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset see those same things as traits to be challenged and not just accepted as part of their personality.

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life,” explains Dweck. “It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

A lot of people stay in their fixed mindset because they fear failure. They want to feel accomplished and so seek constant affirmation and never challenge themselves, but by doing so, they don’t give themselves opportunities to learn and grow in any aspect of their lives. The growth mindset is what Dweck says people should strive towards because it creates a passion for learning rather than approval. “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 to grow?” asks Dweck. “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

The growth mindset is all about challenging yourself

To prove her theory, Dweck brought people into Columbia’s brain-wave lab to see how their brains behaved as they answered difficult questions and received feedback. She found that those with a fixed mindset were only interested in hearing positive feedback and that they ignored thoughts on how they could improve. Interestingly, they also didn’t listen to what the right answer was when they got one wrong because they already saw themselves as a failure. In contrast, those with a growth mindset listened closely to all feedback, including the correct answer to wrong answers, showing that they placed learning above fear of failure.

As entrepreneurs, having a growth mindset is so important. It helps us to improve, take risks and embrace the failures that will ultimately help us to be successful. If you have a fixed mindset you’re massively limiting yourself, both personally and professionally. Thankfully, you can change your mindset! By challenging your fixed mindset voice, you can change it into a growth one.

Change your mindset

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, listen to what your inner voice is saying – it’s most likely to be something negative! When you’ve latched on to these thoughts, recognise that there’s always an alternative. We always have a choice in life, and that includes listening to negative thoughts or not. Next, don’t be afraid to challenge your thoughts. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean you need to carry on doing it like that, we all have the ability to change and develop but only if you commit to pushing yourself. When you feel a negative thought creeping into your mind about your abilities, believe that you can change and do all you can to encourage the growth mindset voice. The more you do this, the quicker you’ll change your mindset from fixed to growth.

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