Mindsets are the implicit theories or assumptions that people hold about the plasticity of their abilities. Fixed mindset reflects the underlying assumption that ability is largely a static; a fixed entity that is not amenable to being changed very much.
The fixed mindset is exemplified in statements that underscore limitations in the scope for people to develop; such as “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. On the other hand, growth mindset, embodies the assumption that abilities are malleable and can be cultivated through concerted effort.
Statements underscoring the process of ability and skill development; such as “Talents are developed, not discovered” and “Things are almost always hard before they are easy,” reflect a growth mindset.
Mindsets are a mental framework that guides how people think, feel, and act in achievement contexts. When people hold a fixed mindset, the assumption that abilities cannot be altered very much leads them to avoid challenges that might expose an inherent ability deficiency.
A fixed mindset inclines people to view effort as fruitless and to ignore negative and potentially helpful feedback. The assumption that abilities are immutable also prompts those with a fixed mindset to rapidly judge people for their perceived transgressions. When people have a growth mindset, however, they tend to embrace challenges and construe effort as crucial for mastering tasks.
The belief that abilities are malleable prompts people to seek and pay attention to corrective feedback; and to perceive setbacks as reflecting a need for more effort and better strategies, rather than indicative of limited ability. Instead of condemning others for their perceived wrongdoings, a growth mindset is associated with helping others to develop and change.
While mindsets occur on a continuum between the fixed and growth prototypes, most people typically hold either a primarily fixed or growth mindset about their abilities in particular areas. For instance, a person could hold a growth mindset about his/her quantitative ability and a fixed mindset about his/her ability to work with difficult people.
How to ditch a fixed mindset
If you want to be open to learning new things; to embrace challenges head-on and to treat setbacks as learning experiences, you need to have a growth mindset. The suggestions listed below will help you ditch the fixed mindset:
1. I can’t do it … yet
The way we talk to ourselves impacts what we actually achieve. If you tell yourself that you can do something, chances are that you will, even if you don’t accomplish it straightaway.
2. Accept challenges
Next time someone throws an unfamiliar or tricky task your way, don’t throw it back at them – embrace it. Even if you stuff up along the way, you can be sure that you’ll do better the next time.
3. Work hard
You’re unlikely to reach your goals if you don’t put in the effort to match. Work hard, even a small bit at a time, and you’ll be able to enjoy the rewards.
4. Be open to new ways of doing things
You can never be sure of how something is going to pan out if you’ve never tried it before. Before assuming that something will never work, ask yourself: ‘What do I have to do to make this work?’
5. Don’t let setbacks get you down
Setbacks don’t mean you’ve failed, just that you need to try a different approach. Take feedback from the experience on board, and make changes accordingly. You can learn just as much from a mistake as you can from success.
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Culled from: Reachout.