Updated: Jan 23
By Christina Eanes, volunteer.
Are you born with your level of intelligence, skills, and talent, or do you develop them over time through effort? If you believe in the former, you have a fixed mindset; if you think in the latter, you have a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, a Stanford academic and researcher in psychology, identified these two types of mindsets in the 1970s and has since completed much research on how one’s perspective can affect their success.
If you have done any reading on perception, you know that our mindsets significantly impact how we see the world, how we behave, and how we live our lives. Specifically, one’s mindset contributes to what kinds of goals they choose to pursue, how one responds to failure, and how much effort one makes to achieve their goals.
Those with a growth mindset focus on the journey of obtaining goals versus the fixed mindset’s focus on the destination of accomplishing the goal.
First, let’s look at how our mindset affects the goals we choose to pursue. According to Carol Dweck, people with a fixed mindset will pursue performance-related goals, such as passing an exam, selling a particular volume of product per month, or some other “key-performance-indicator.” People who have more of a growth mindset pursue goals that are related to learning. This means that the goals are based on gaining competence or mastery in their chosen area. Those with a growth mindset focus on the journey of obtaining goals versus the fixed mindset’s focus on the destination of accomplishing the goal.
Next, let’s explore how the different mindsets view failure. Since someone with more of a fixed mindset believes that failure demonstrates that one has reached the limits of their competence, they can become quite distraught when they fail to achieve their goals. For one with a growth mindset, failure is a learning opportunity. Failing to achieve a goal isn’t a huge deal because it indicates how they need to develop themselves more so that they can go after that goal.
Finally, let’s examine the role of effort in these two mindsets. Those with a fixed mindset believe that if you have to put effort into obtaining the goal - it must mean that you’re just not good at it. Those with more of a growth mindset believe that you need to put in the effort to grow yourself and achieve your goals.
Which mindset sounds more empowering to you?
The good news is, if you tend to fall more towards the fixed mindset side of the continuum, you can retrain your brain to be more growth-focused. How do you do that?
The first step is being aware of your mindset. This can be accomplished by a daily self-reflection on how well you responded to mistakes or failures you experienced throughout the day. The next step is to take each error or failure and list all the gifts and learning it brought you. If you do this regularly – spending just a few minutes each day, you’ll notice that you start viewing situations differently and respond more successfully.
About the Author:
Christina Eanes is an author, speaker, podcast host, and former FBI analyst and senior manager. Find more about Christina at christinaeanes.com.