Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset
In a fixed mindset, individuals believe they are either born with talent or they’re not. They’re either naturally good at something, or they’re not. They view intelligence as a fixed trait. They believe inborn talent determines success.
Individuals with a growth mindset believe talent comes through effort. They believe anyone can be good at anything; that their abilities can be developed through dedication, perseverance, and the right strategy.
Individuals with a fixed mindset seek to validate themselves. Individuals with a growth mindset focus on developing themselves.
The Dangers of a Fixed Mindset
Individuals who adopt a fixed mindset rarely excel at anything. Because they believe their intelligence and abilities are what they are, they invest their energy in looking smart instead of learning and developing.
In a fixed mindset, if you try something you’ve never done before, say ice skating, you’ll likely give up after falling a few times.
This “failure” will feel humiliating and you’ll probably avoid ice skating for the rest of your life. You’ll make an excuse like, “Ice skating just isn’t my thing.”
If you believe someone is just a “natural born dancer” or that you “just can’t dance,” you’re holding a fixed mindset.
With a fixed mindset, you avoid new challenges like the plague because you’re afraid of being judged. As such, when obstacles arise, you tend to give up quickly.
Because you don’t have many references for how humans learn and develop, you feel that putting forth effort is a waste of time.
And you secretly feel threatened and envious of the success of others.
Ultimately, in a fixed mindset, you don’t have a chance to develop your potential.
Abraham Maslow called it “aborted self-actualization.” He wrote in The Farther Reaches of Human nature:
It’s incredibly harmful to hold a fixed mindset, to believe intelligence and talent is static. Yet, most of us hold a fixed mindset in multiple areas of our live.
How to Change from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset
Now that you know what a growth mindset is, you can begin to practice this way of thinking using the following steps;
Believing It’s Possible:
Developing a growth mindset begins with a choice that you want to believe in the growth mindset, even if it’s hard to overcome your old way of thinking, at first. It also starts with accepting your fixed mindset. Everyone has fixed mindset tendencies in one way or another. Only by accepting that it is there do you have the power to change your mindset.
Self-awareness is extremely important if you want to understand where your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and behaviors come from. If you’re unable to identify the negative habits or thoughts you are having, then you’ll never be able to change them to healthier ones.
Here are some questions to help you become more self-aware:
Who am I?
What are my greatest goals and desires in life?
Am I taking consistent action each day to move me closer to my dreams?
These questions will allow you to start self-reflecting on the choices and the decisions you’ve been making up to this point in your life. You can begin to analyze if you make more positive or negative decisions most of the time.
When you become aware of fixed thinking, the next step is to make a different choice on how to interpret the situation. If you are having a challenge, instead of viewing it from a fixed mindset perspective—as evidence that your abilities are lacking—challenge yourself to view it (the challenge) from a growth mindset—as evidence that you need to apply more effort or change your strategy.
- When you hear yourself thinking: “What if you’re not good enough? You’ll be a failure.”
You can change it to: “Everyone starts out not being good and successful people all fail along the way.”
- When you hear yourself thinking: “If it’s this hard, you’re probably just not good at it.”
Change it to: “If it’s hard, it means I need to put in more effort and it will be a great achievement when I get good at it.”
- When you hear yourself thinking: “If I don’t try, I can’t fail and I will keep my dignity.”
Change it to: “If I don’t try, I have already failed and I have no dignity.”
- When you hear yourself thinking: “It’s not my fault.”
Change it to: “If I don’t accept whatever part of this is my responsibility, I give away my power.”
The final step is to encourage yourself to act based on the growth mindset perspective! A fixed mindset would often discourage yourself from taking any action because, “well, if you’re just not good at something, why bother?”
So, now that they’ve been reminded of the growth mindset perspective and that you can learn or change, it’s time to determine what to do next. But, it’s important to note here that before you ask yourself to determine what steps to take, you have to make sure you believe that you can either;
- make the steps or
- that the steps are worth the effort.
If you are stuck in a fixed mindset, you won’t be able to determine possibilities or genuinely commit to actions.
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