03 Nov Fixed or growth mindset?
Failure doesn’t exist for people with a growth mindset. Rather, they embrace challenges, learn from mistakes and failures, and continue to struggle and persevere in the face of difficulties. They recognize that intelligence, personality, and moral character can grow and change with hard work.
People with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, feel labeled by failure, as in “I am a failure”. They pass up opportunities for learning, and get discouraged when a lot of effort is required. In their minds, intelligence, personality, and character are fixed for life, and they believe that they either have what it takes, or they don’t.
Growth vs. fixed
You have a growth mindset if you’re constantly trying to improve in whatever you care about, be it sports, managing other people, investing in a relationship, or pursuing a passion. If you face your own mistakes and deficiencies, and figure out how to address them, you have a growth mindset.
People with a fixed mindset see themselves as superior, smarter, or luckier than others, and they may spend a lifetime trying to prove themselves, instead of opening themselves to change, possibility, and personal growth.
Response to depression
Interestingly, people respond differently to depression, depending on their mindset. Even when depressed, folks with a growth mindset are much more likely to continue to carry on, take action to confront their problems, and stay determined in spite of how they feel. Even when depressed, they see the possibility for change.
Talent vs. character
Of course, there are innate differences in people. Talent, for example, may take you to the top of your field of endeavor, but it takes hard work, dedication, and character to stay there, and continue to focus on improvement. Genuine leaders in any field are made, not born.
An attitude of either you have it or you don’t means that failure for someone with a fixed mindset is devastating. Losing a race, not getting a promotion at work, getting divorced, losing out in a contest – how do you respond? If you buckle down and figure out what you need to do to improve the situation, then you have character – and a growth mindset!
With today’s knowledge about brain plasticity, I hope that more and more people will develop a growth mindset.
Reference: Carol S. Dweck. 2006. Mindset. Random House, 276 pp.