While it may not be a new concept to you, now's a great time of year to revisit Carol Dweck's book – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Published in 2006, it was updated in 2016 to address common misunderstandings and add new research. Dweck also responded to reader's comments by providing more actionable advice in shifting from fixed to growth mindsets.
If you're thinking, “Yes, I already read it and I've made big shifts to using a growth mindset through the last decade.” If that's true, terrific! But you might want to skip down to Beware of a False Growth Mindset to make sure you aren't missing out on some of Carol's findings.
If you've not yet read the book, add it to your reading list!
With over 52,000 4+ ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, Dweck's work on mindset has a large following. The Women Who Money Team believes deeply in learning and growth! Even if you've read this book once, you'll likely take more from it to apply to recent experiences you've had if you read it again.
Chapters of the book include:
- The Mindsets
- Inside the Mindsets
- The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment
- Sports: The Mindset of a Champion
- Business: Mindset and Leadership
- Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not)
- Parents, Teachers, and Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?
- Changing Mindsets
Do You Have a Fixed Mindset?
You can't teach an old dog new tricks. People either have it or they don't. I'm not good with money. I'll never get a promotion. They won't give me a raise even though I deserve one.
You've probably heard these before and you could add to the list of sayings that show people have fixed mindsets. You may even believe people's abilities and talents are static and even with tremendous work and effort, failure is likely.
You may call yourself a realist as an excuse, but that's a limiting attitude too. Your fixed mindset may be holding you back. It could also be negatively affecting your relationships, your children, or your team at work too. And that's because a fixed mindset affects your behavior.
You'll avoid trying or learning new things, seeking advice, practicing difficult tasks and more – if you don't believe it matters. And there isn't anything positive about that.
Adopting a Growth Mindset
Talent alone isn't a recipe for success and having innate abilities won't get you far in life without a work ethic either.
Believing hard work and increased effort will help you learn more and build skills is part of having a growth mindset. Even if you run into difficulties, figuring out how to navigate the problem or getting help from others is growing. With this mindset, you won't just give up.
Understanding you have influence over your skills, and the ability to grow and change, boosts self-confidence. How can you expect to keep New Year's resolutions, meet goals you set, or build new habits if you don't believe you can change and improve over time when you put in more effort?
Trying something new. Take a class. Ask someone for help. Practice. And above all else, believe in yourself and your abilities to foster a growth mindset.
Beware of a False Growth Mindset
As Dweck's research and writing on mindsets grew in popularity, many believed they already had a growth mindset or could easily adopt one. But it isn't as easy as it sounds.
Some people didn't really understand the term and began focusing on only praising effort, not accomplishment. While hard work is important, tying effort to successful strategies that can be used in the future is much more growth-focused.
Others labeled themselves “lifelong learners” years before Dweck studied mindsets. How they defined ‘learning' may not align with Dweck's definition of a growth mindset though. Keeping busy isn't the same as being involved in meaningful activities that focus on outcomes and promote growth, in addition to praising progress.
People also believed they had one or the other – a fixed or growth mindset. Instead, Dweck explains nobody has a growth mindset all the time. We all have “fixed mindset triggers” we deal within our lives. Understanding when we are triggered and being able to shift and apply the principles of a growth mindset at those times is when we have a true understanding of the concept.
Changing Your Mindset Can Change Your Life
You can't figure it out. You haven't figured it out yet.
Which of those describe you when you face a challenge?
If you believe you can't do something because you aren't smart enough or lack the skills to address the problem, you have a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset focuses on the negative, is deficit-based, and keeps you stuck in the current situation. Your chance of getting a promotion or a raise is slim if you don't believe in yourself or your abilities to improve and grow.
If you haven't figured it out yet but you are working on the problem or seeking another solution to it, you have a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is positive, strength-based and focuses on the future. If you seek opportunities to learn, are ambitious, and use constructive criticism to refine your skills, you have a much better chance of being successful.
Hopefully, you can see why it's so important to learn about mindset and how it affects your behavior. As Dweck explains, it is more challenging than you think to make the shift – especially if you've had a fixed mindset for many years. But you'll probably agree, making a change to a growth mindset is more important than ever.
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