Simply a set of thoughts that you believe to be true about yourself. In her book Mindset, Dr Carol Dweck outlines the two distinctive mindsets she has discovered over her three decade escapade of studying how people learn.
She discovered which is now coined as the Growth Mindset. It’s polar opposite is the self explanatory fixed mindset.
What is a growth mindset?
There is no doubt that success in life can be highly attributed to the growth mindset. The growth mindset being that you believe that you as an individual have the ability to be better at what ever it is you choose.
You do not have a fixed view of your abilities or your learning capability. Unfortunately not all of us have this type of mindset, the beauty is that this mindset is one which can be learned.
A simple way of figuring out whether or not you demonstrate tendancies of either fixed or growth mindset is by answering a few simple questions. Have a go at the below and this will help you assess whether you need mindset training.
How often do you push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things as part of your personal development?
Do you usually stick to things that you know and are comfortable with?
If you hardly push yourself and you stick to things you know. You are demonstrating a fixed mindset.
Do you believe that you have the ability to increase your intelligence and learn to do things you could never imagine, with the correct training?
Do you believe that you were born a certain way and that your skills and abilities are limited?
If you believe you can get better and if you do not believe your skills and abilities are limited then you have a growth mindset.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.”Dale Carnegie
Why you need to change your fixed mindset
The black and white truth about the fixed mindset is that it will almost be impossible to achieve at anything.
If you do not believe you can better your abilities, skills and intelligence. The chances of placing effort into becoming better at whatever it is that you desire are slim to none.
I once had a fixed mindset about certain things. My finest example was my cardio ability. I believe I was not necissaraly built for intensive cardio training but have adopted the growth mindset.
I searched for the training that would work for me. I discovered jump rope and my cardio has developed leaps and bounds. It was hard at first but I didn’t give up.
Those with the fixed mindset give up easily due to failing and a task being hard. They see this failure as humiliation.
Rather than seeing this failure as a learning and something to use as part of your journey. Making excuses and quitting is the simple solution rather than displaying tenacity and resilience to continue forth and achieve.
Ultimately if any of what I have written above resonates with how you feel about yourself. It’s time to recognise and decide that this is not who you actually are, its the mindset you are currently stuck in.
You do have the ability to develop a growth mindset with the correct methodology and mindset training. It is not difficult, it takes forming good habits and positive thoughts about yourself into what you can achieve.
If you want to develop into a high achiever, drop all those thoughts of inability and fixed skills. You need to move away from comparing yourself to others and learn for the sake of learning for your own ability.
You don’t need to become the best you just need to know that you can be better than you were yesterday. It’s true, all you need to do is live it! Rest assured with the right mindset training you to can develop a growth mindset.
“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful.”Carol Dweck
Understand how your mindset has been formed
You are probably in a position right now trying to understand, how the heck did I end with this fixed mindset. Let’s look a little deeper into this. Don’t get mad but in Dweck’s studies she identifies the two main drivers in children to the fixed mindset are the parents and their teachers.
This information in itself really made me start to think about how I was parenting. So powerful this knowledge it reshapes basically everything about how you mold your little ones.
The more relieving thing is that unfortunately fixed mindsets are built well and truly from good intentions. Children who are continously praised for ability rather than their effort are the ones who typically end up with a fixed mindset.
An example of this would be if someone did well at a test, praising ability would be something like, “well done you are so clever”. Where as if it was praising effort it would be something like “well done you have obviously worked really hard for this result”.
So there’s a little learning. As a parent praise the effort not the ability.
In contrast, many of the effort-praised students actually said they enjoyed the hard problems they were given more than the easy ones. The performance of this group continued to improve.
The saddest part about this discovery is that the schooling system is based around praising ability. These are predetermined judgement on children. Either a child did well and is smart or they did poorly so they are stupid. This then is a typical flow on effect in parenting.
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”Carol Dweck
How to change to having a growth mindset
So now that you are here and you have realised ‘holy shit!’ I’ve been stuck in my ways of thought not because I was born this way but because of the environment.
Sweet! Now that you have recognise this it’s time to change. I know it seems easy to say, you just need to believe that you have the ability to be better, but it really is that simple and training the brain through some simple habits.
Let’s understand how the brain works for mindset training
Time for some science people. There is some basic neuroscience w eneed to get into so we can get a grip of what’s happening in our craniums.
The brain like your bicep is a muscle. Yes you can exercise it and yes it will get better at what ever task you are learning. Methods of learning is another whole discussion all together.
In this case let’s look at the method used with the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. Where he explains how greatness is not something you are born with but something you learn.
Something you learn in a particular way. In this instance he refers to it as ‘chunking’. Breaking down what you are learning into several parts.
So just say you are wanting to learn to play the guitar. First you learn a chord. You repeat playing the chord. Done!
You know the chord. Now you try another chord. Done! Now you try playing a riff of chords together. You repeat playing the riff. You repeat this process with another riff.
You repeat this. I think you get the drift, in the end you learn bits of the song and and then you play it as one whole song. You learn it but by bit though.
As Coyle discusses in his book, this repeated practice builds up what is known as myelin inthe brain.
Its like an insulation which builds along your axons. Axons being what connects the different neurons in your brain together. Now that the myelin is built up neurons can now travel faster in your brain.
So this is how practice makes the brain stronger as a muscle. You learn you build myelin and then boom your a superstar at whatever it is your learning. HA!
Only if it was that simple, but I think you will understand what is happening in the brain now and how it functions as a muscle does. The practice is the exercise.
In 1998 neuroplasticity was discovered, which showed that the adult brain in fact was able to grow new brain cells. It showed how our brains neral pathways were always changing based on the diferent experience we had in life.
That’s the beauty of realising all of this. Now you know that as long as your brain is functioning as norm that you can actually learn new things.
The saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is absolute BS. Our brains continue to grow as we get older so keep on learning and keep on exercising that brain of yours. It’s what it takes to have a growth mindset. R
The truth is. The fixed mindset is a actually not a real thing. It is created within peoples minds. Knowing this is extremely powerful but putting into work is now your task. Mindset training here you come!
Everything you think about talent is probably wrong
If you are currently stuck with a mindset you probably believe that you were either born with or without a particular talent. When you have a growth mind you well and truely know that this is false and you have every ability to learn new things.
As mentioned earlier when discussing the brain being a muscle. I spoke of the book The Talent Code. This discussed the methodology of learning and practice.
Talent is not something you are born with but is something that is cultivated and grown through deliberate practice.
The Four Steps to developing a growth mindset.
The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself and recognise and realise that you do indeed have a fixed mindset. It’s about really developing your self awareness and understanding your mind and how you think.
To move forwarf you have actively practice this self awareness and be sure to identify when you tend to slip into that fixed mindset. Observe that you are in this fixed mindset and realise that your mind is in the wrong place. Realise that this is the wrong state of mind and correct these thoughts. Now for those practical steps for growth mindset training.
Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
One of the biggest battles you will face as you try to move your mind from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is the pesky voice in your head. You know the one.
You are about to try something new and that annoying voice in your head places doubt in your head and says “don’t think you can do this do you?” or “what happens if you mess it up?”
It places doubt in your abilities and makes you feel like you are not able to actually achieve the task at hand rather than just believing that you can do it.
Even when you try and fail you will also hear that voice in you head saying something like “see I told you, you couldn’t do it” or “you don’t have the talent for this just give it up already”.
When someone provides you with some critical and truthful feedback that voice gets defensive and annoyed. “What right do they have to say that” or “this isn’t event my fault”. Your inner fixed mindset voice does not like feedback or criticism.
As a mindset coach we know about this voice. We call it the inner saboteur. Its the voice in your head that is constantly undermining what we try to do.
It’s the over ciritcal voice that judges us what we do and what we are trying to achieve. This inner saboteur is part of the fixed mindset.
If you recognise and practice self awareness of your fixed mindset you will know that this voice will enter the fray when trying challenging new tasks. Knowing this you can tell it to bugger off and it’s not welcome in your mind.
Step 2: Recognize that you have a choice.
You can interpret these voices in 2 various ways: Obstacles, setbacks, and objection can be an indicator that you have fixed ability as well as capacity.
Or, they can be an indicator that you require to test yourself, step up your your efforts, change your techniques, and continue to grow as an individual.
The former is obviously the fixed mindset; the last is oriented towards growth.
Step 3: Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.
As the new challenge appoaches and you are aware that fixed mindset voice is coming into attack and says “I’m not so sure you can do this. You probably don’t have the talent to do it”.
Get ready to answer with your growth mindset zen. Respon to this fixed voice with “I’m not too sure that I can now, but in time I’m fair sure I can learn to with strong effort and commitment”.
The fixed mindset continues with its rants “What if you can’t do it, you’ll be seen as a loser and a failure”.
Drive your growth mindset to the forefront and answer “Nearly every succesful person has had their failure on their road to success, in fact failure is just learning how to get to the end result better”.
The fixed mindset will continue to linger but as you continue to practice this method of warding off the pesky voice with your growth mindset.
Over time this habit will teach your brain to think directly to the growth mindset attitude and thought patterns.
Even the growth mindset needs repeat training to bring that big muscle inside your head to be the powerful tool it can be for you.
Knowing that i can be achieved is the first step and practicing and remembering that it will take time is important. But YOU can do it.
When someone approaches you with criticism. The fixed mindset will get defensive and the voice will say something like “It’s not my fault. It’s because of person X that this has happened”.
When you’re in the growth mindset zone you will think “Taking responsibility for this error will allow me to find a solution. I will listen even if its hurtful and I will learn what I can”.
For me personally I rehearse these thoughts in my head, I ask myself these questions. My favourite time to practice these exercises is on my drive to work.
I will take five minutes to run through growth mindset thinking and questions to get my head in the zone. This practice in itself helps me on a daily basis.
I now do it just to continue practicing positive thought and reminding myself that I can achieve.
Step 4: Be active with your growth mindset thinking.
When you find yourself in a place of growth mindset thinking, of course doubt can sometimes fall into your thoughts here and there.
As you continue to practice the above and take the necessary steps as outlined above you will move back to the growth mindset.
Use this mindset training to focus your efforts on how you react and teach your mind to move to a place of growth.
Remember as part of practicing the growth mindset you also need to place your self in places of discomfort.
Try new things, challenge your self to learn things you don’t know. Use its a process and when you have setbacks, understand them and move on.
Continue to persist with your efforts. Adjust your tactics and strategies and learn from feedback to get yourself in the right zone.