I recently read a book by Carol Dweck called Mindset. In this book, Professor Dweck describes that there are only two types of mindset: fixed and growth. Studies in human behavior have also determined that these are the two types of mindsets within humanity. Each is described below, but first, let's define mindset – mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your most fundamental qualities such as intelligence, talents, and personality. Let’s explore the two types:
The Fixed Mindset – This is the person that believes their intelligence or talents are fixed traits. They focus on measuring their intelligence or talent instead of cultivating and developing each. They believe that talent alone will determine their success. This belief couldn't be further from reality. Fixed mindset are the glass half-empty, “it is what it is” type of people. They are the killjoys of the world. Limited energy and negative attitude. They are victims and life has not been kind to them – just ask them.
The Growth Mindset – This is the person that believes that their abilities like intelligence and talent can be cultivated and developed through hard work and dedication. Growth mindset is the other half. These people believe they can figure it out. They can grow to reach new levels. They typically avoid blaming others or society for the challenges they face. They give the world hope.
When we have the Growth Mindset, our focus turns to learning and skill development. The Fixed Mindset concentrates on the result, whereas the Growth Mindset focuses on the practice and preparation. Teaching our children to focus on the effort is a critical skill that we need to be cultivating in them. Celebrate the study and the work more than the test score or win. We should still celebrate successes for our children but celebrating the effort to achieve and accomplish the desired results has far greater long-term value than celebrating the single event.
People with a fixed mindset store all of the past failures and transgressions for immediate retrieval when things don’t go their way. They seek reinforcements for their limiting beliefs anywhere they can find them – communications with friends, the evening news, coworkers, etc. What a place to live a life. Miserable and seeking every justification available to reinforce the misery. I see it everywhere. Of course, it isn’t you, is it? If you are generally unhappy or depressed, it is for good reason, right? “You don’t understand, Russ. You haven’t been through what I have been through.” People throw this out as if they are the only people to experience failure or loss. Fixed mindset folks have a narcissistic tendency. They believe they are justified in their never-ending pity party. Still not you, is it? I hope not, but have lived around fixed mindset people long enough to know they are quick to point out the faults in others but slow to see their own shortcomings. In contrast, growth mindset people can tell you their faults and what they are doing to work on them.
The interesting aspect of this is that we have a choice. We can choose fixed or growth, because it is a mindset. What is your mindset? Do you believe the future will be better than the past? Your answer says it all. People with a growth mindset believe the best is yet to come. They don’t live in the past. If they fail, they pick themselves up (maybe after a quick pity party), and move on. They learn from their mistakes. They have emotions to grieve, grovel, and gripe, but let go after an appropriate time for each. Regardless of your current mindset, you have a choice. Adopt a Growth Mindset to ensure your better future!