Perhaps you've seen the famous TED talk by Carol Dweck, PhD, "The Power of Believing That You Can Improve," in which she explains her research on motivation. She found that, in general, people have two mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is the belief that we are born with a set of abilities and intelligences and we cannot move beyond what is inherent within us. People who choose the fixed mindset avoid taking risks, lose out on life’s adventures and look at failures as endings rather than opportunities to learn and try again. A growth mindset is the belief that hard work and determination can provide you with endless opportunities. No one ever reaches their full potential because you can always keep learning and growing. People who choose a growth mindset take risks and never mind making mistakes. Rather, they view mistakes as positives because those mistakes are a gateway to growth. In essence, when you embrace the opportunity to improve, you achieve success.
In her research, Dweck identified five action areas in which the two mindsets diverge: challenges, criticism, success, effort and obstacles. Think of what sounds most like you. Are you someone who thinks with a fixed or growth mindset? Are you engaging in self-sabotage? Or are you on the path to success?
Fixed mindset – avoids failure: I will not submit my application because I don’t think I have enough experience to get accepted.
Growth mindset – sees failure as opportunity: I did not get the last job, but I’ll try again because I have the skills to do it well.
Fixed mindset – rejects feedback: My mentor is wrong. I know what is best for me.
Growth mindset – learns from feedback: I will ask my mentor questions during and after our meetings and take notes that I can refer to.
Success of Others
Fixed mindset – gets insecure: I am jealous of my friend who got offered the job of her dreams.
Growth mindset – gets motivated: I need to spend time making phone calls like my friend did. To do this, I will set aside some time every day to be proactive.
Fixed mindset – thinks trying means you are no good: I am already a good writer. I don’t need anyone to help me get better.
Growth mindset – puts in the work: I’m up at 6 a.m. to write. I can always hone my craft.
Fixed mindset – gives up: I could never publish a book. I am not a writer.
Growth mindset – tries: I think I could publish a book. Today I will look up agents to see who I will contact.
So what path will you choose? If you notice that your brain is stuck in a fixed mindset, turn it around! The power is within you to create a growth mindset. You have the magic to believe that you can improve and you will succeed!