“Remember, no more effort is required to aim high in life, to demand abundance and prosperity than is required to accept misery and poverty.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, relates in her insightful book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (public library), there are two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. These mindsets are what we consider our personality.
A fixed mindset is one where it’s assumed our character, creative ability and intelligence are fixed traits that cannot be changed. These people believe their basic abilities are what you are born with and they will only ever have a certain amount.
People with a fixed mindset always want to appear intelligent since they don’t believe intelligence can be modified. They fear appearing dumb to others believing they will always look that way once others see them as being unintelligent.
Some common fixed mindset thoughts include:
- Either I’m good at something, or I’m not.
- I can’t learn now; it’s too late.
- There’s no point in trying if I’m going to fail.
- I always struggle with…
- I’m a procrastinator.
- I’m not creative.
- It’s hard for me to lose weight.
Growth mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that their abilities and intelligence is and can grow with time and experience. They believe they can become smarter, that their efforts effect their success and with persistence they can learn.
Those with a growth mindset believe their basic ability is only the starting point for their true potential. The growth mindset creates a passion for learning rather than a constant need for approval.
Some common growth mindset thoughts include:
- I can always become better at something through practice.
- I can learn whatever I want or need to, exactly when I need to learn it.
- I see failures as opportunities to learn, to reassess, and to do better next time.
- I can always do better at something if I want to, but it will take effort.
- Determination and effort are the measures of my outcomes
- I enjoy learning and growing, and learning is a lifetime pursuit for me.
There are key differences between a fixed and growth mindset. Challenge is one of them. A person with a fixed mindset will shy away from a challenge, often from fear of failure. They may go into hiding to avoid responsibilities. The growth mindset person is excited by challenges. The find them engaging and a key in learning something valuable from the experiences. They master the challenge and move to greater accomplishments.
Another key difference is in how each faces mistakes and feedback. A person with a fixed mindset is embarrassed by making mistakes. They blame others or become defensive when criticized. The growth mindset person sees mistakes as a learning lesson. They are less likely to take criticism personally. They are open to criticism believing it helps improve their ability to do better next time.
If you find you have a fixed mindset and you genuinely want to change, you can. It will take practice, determination, being more aware of your thoughts, and anticipating what reactions you’re likely to have to situations. With these efforts, you benefit by having a more open, growth mindset that can lead to success in every area of your life.