Fixed Vs Growth Mindset
Personal Growth Magazine
– You can listen to the article here.
Both fixed and growth mindsets are highly self-reinforcing, but in vastly different ways.
If you believe that ability is an ingrained or fixed feature which you were born with and can’t change, then you have what is called a fixed mindset. But if you think that you can develop this ability through effort and practice then you have a growth mindset.
Each belief leads to different behaviors and consequently different results. Of the two, having a growth mindset, where you are ready and willing to learn and improve, is the key to success.
Having said that, it doesn’t imply that hard work, persistence and struggle aren’t important. They are, but only when you believe that you aren’t limited and are in full control of your destiny.
Mindset in Practice
Individuals with these two mindsets not only think differently but also react to information in a different manner. In fact, the differences can be stark when they respond to information about performance.
For instance, people with a fixed mindset respond very well to information about how well they have done something. It could be anything from trying out a new recipe, learning a new language, working on a DIY project, or doing well on test results and grades.
Their minds are most active when they learn about their good performance. Their prime, but somewhat limited concern is with the results achieved with stress on the praise they receive.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset tend to be most responsive when they are told about the ways they could improve their performance. These folks want to learn how to better themselves which leaves a lot of room for growth. They are more interested in strategies to help them evolve and the process of doing so, not merely their talent or ability.
The two are, in fact very different approaches, with the former being focused on “How did I do?” as opposed to the latter which deals with “What can I do better next time?”
The fixed mindset is all about how the performance was perceived and the growth mindset is about how improvement can take place. It isn’t hard to see which mindset will yield better results in the long run.
Mindset in Action
When it comes to taking action, both the fixed as well as the growth mindset are also poles apart.
To refer to a very well-known example, let’s take the story of the tortoise and the hare.
In the story, the hare was so certain that he could win that he sat down and went to sleep during the race. On the other hand, the tortoise was persistent and kept going believing that that he had a chance of winning.
When the hare woke up, he started running as fast as he could but he was just too late. In the meantime, the tortoise had won.
So the story shows that the hare had a fixed mindset where he believed that his inherent ability for speed would guarantee a win. But the tortoise showed a growth mindset where he believed he needed to work hard to get to a certain point. At the same time, he was not afraid of failure but ready to take on a challenge.
This also points out to the fact that a fixed mindset can be susceptible to an overly perfect finished view of oneself. Much like the hare, this thinking pattern suggests that you are already perfect. And so your brain becomes less adept at recognizing opportunities for improvement.
The Basics of Fixed vs Growth Mindset
People with a fixed mindset accept their traits as givens. They believe there is a certain amount of intelligence and talent and there is nothing that can change this fact. So people with this mindset are often concerned about their traits and how adequate they are.
With a fixed mindset you believe that your ability is innate and you find failure unsettling as it makes you question how good you really are. Another belief shared by people with this mindset is that there’s a hidden upper limit to what you can achieve.
For instance, if you’ve struggled through school, you may well believe that you’re not cut out for college. You may never even try out for college but get stuck in a low paying, non-engaging job instead. Such a job won’t do anything for stimulating your brain and the belief of inadequacy becomes your reality.
On the other hand, if you have a growth mindset, then you accept that you can improve your ability and failure only tells what you should work on.
Those who have a fixed mindset are all about proving themselves and often become defensive should anyone point out that they made an error. This mindset only allows people to measure themselves by their failures.
The growth mindset, on the other hand often exhibits resilience and perseverance in the face of errors. Instead of adopting a defensive approach, they become motivated to better their performance.
So when distinguishing the fixed mindset from the growth mindset, keep the following in mind:
Response to Goals: The fixed mindset wants to look smart whereas the growth mindset wants to learn and improve.
Response to Challenges: The fixed mindset avoids challenges but the growth mindset seeks it out.
Change: Change is seen as a threat by the fixed mindset but the growth mindset views the same as a challenge.
Response to Setbacks: People trapped in a fixed mindset respond poorly to setbacks, appearing helpless but those with a growth mindset appear resilient.
Response to Criticism: The fixed mindset will appear defensive when faced with criticism but the growth mindset will learn from it.
Response to Wrongdoing: The fixed mindset tends to punish and retaliate in this situation whereas the growth mindset tends to educate and compromise.
Response to Viewing Others’ Success: The fixed mindset views others’ success as a threat but the growth mindset sees it as inspiring.
Choose a growth mindset over a fixed one. And, yes, it’s a choice…