A growth mindset is a concept that is sweeping the world. It is changing and improving the way that people learn. These mindsets are crucial when it comes to learning. This powerful idea has been pushed forward by Stanford professor and best-selling author, Carol Dweck.
Carol Dweck researched the idea of mindset. It suggests that there is every reason to believe that we can be great, maybe even the best at anything, with dedicated practice. But, to get there, we need a growth mindset. In simple words, a growth mindset means believing in our abilities. Even intelligence is a result of time, effort, and practice.
Having the right mindset is necessary because it affects behaviors that greatly influence whether or not you will succeed at something. For example, if you have a growth mindset, you are more likely to embrace challenges and appreciate feedback. Also, when failures happen, you do not allow it to define you. Instead, you use it to help guide how you can improve.
Carol Dweck said that for decades, she had been studying why some people succeed while people who are equally talented do not. And over the years, she had discovered that people’s mindsets play a crucial role in this process.
Dweck’s work shows that mindsets have a crucial influence on people’s ability to learn. People who utilize this growth mindset tend to learn, grow, and achieve more over time than people with a fixed mindset.
GROWTH MINDSET VS. FIXED MINDSET
Carol Dweck’s work has uncovered two ways of thinking about skill and development. They are a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A growth mindset stands in contrast to a fixed mindset.
- Fixed mindset
A fixed mindset limits us by making us believe that we are either born with particular abilities or not. For example, our fixed mindsets might tell us that we are an English person but not a Maths person. It sounds familiar.
Some people have a fixed mindset. They believe that skills and intelligence are limited. You either have them or not. They think that some people are just naturally good at things, while others are not. In short, they believe that you are not in control of your abilities.
Also, they don’t implement feedback. Often, people with a fixed mindset feel defensive about the criticism.
- Growth mindset
Some people have a growth mindset. They believe that you are in control of your abilities.
People with a growth mindset believe that they can build skills. They do believe in their capacity to learn and grow.
You can see that there is a self-fulfilling prophecy here. If you believe that your abilities can improve, you will engage in behaviors that make it so. If you believe your abilities are more or less immutable, you don’t try to improve and, so you don’t.
If you recognize yourself as having a fixed mindset about things, you can change that. Practice having a growth mindset.
HOW DOES THE MINDSET WORK?
A growth mindset is more than one study. The reason that it is so important is because it is the foundation for learning. If you understand the growth mindset, no matter what you build on that foundation, it will be more powerful.
Now, let’s see how it works.
Through years of works, Dweck and her team have uncovered sort of the defining characteristics of the two mindsets. The table below illustrates the contrast between them and how it works.
|Characteristics||Growth Mindset||Fixed Mindset|
|Belief||People with a growth mindset believe that they can build skills. So, they can learn.||They believe that skills are born.|
|Focus||People with a growth mindset tend to focus more on the process of getting better. They focus on learning and growing.||They tend to focus on performance, outcomes, and results. In other words, their main concern is how they look. More specifically, they focus on not looking bad.|
These characteristics have a crucial influence on our ability to learn. It is because they can link with the ingredients to growth.
|Ingredients to growth||Growth Mindset||Fixed Mindset|
|Efforts||People in a growth mindset look at effort as a useful thing. They consider it as a necessary part of the learning process.||People in a fixed mindset look at effort as a negative thing. They think people put effort when they are not good enough. Also, they don’t see the purpose of putting in effort.|
|Challenges||They are more likely to embrace challenges.||People in a fixed mindset often back down. They avoid challenging situations.|
|Mistakes||They see mistakes as learning opportunities.||People in a fixed mindset get discouraged when they make mistakes.|
|Feedback||When they receive feedback, they appreciate it.||When people with a fixed mindset receive feedback, they get defensive. Also, they take it personally. Moreover, they don’t see the value of it.|
Now, let’s connect the dots between the key characteristics and the ingredients to learn.
People in a fixed mindset shy away from putting in effort because they don’t believe that they can change. They give up when they meet with a challenge.And things get hard because they focus on not looking bad. So, in their mind, the challenge becomes a threat because they don’t believe that they can change. They hate making mistakes and are discouraged by mistakes. They think mistakes make them look bad. And they don’t see the value or purpose of feedback because they don’t believe in their capacity to grow. So, in one way or another, every single action is a byproduct of the characteristics.
The growth mindset works the same way. They see the value and purpose of effort because they believe in their capacity to grow. They are more likely to take on a challenge because they are focused on the opportunity to do that. And, by focusing on the process and believing in their capacity to grow, they understand the importance of mistakes. Also, when they receive feedback, they are more receptive to it. Hence, this is how the mindset works.