Like many people, I read Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset’ a few years ago and tried to ascertain whether I had a fixed or growth mindset. To start to understand what mindset you have, take a look at some of the attributes of both:
NB: All the pictures in this post were taken in The Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow. Just in case you were wondering.
- Don’t believe you can change your circumstances; perhaps people refer to you as being ‘set in your ways’.
- Tend to look at your attributes as if they are finite. I.e. ‘I’m terrible at spelling’ instead of believing you can improve and grow the ability to spell – just as an example.
- Give up easily and actively avoid being challenged.
- Ignore people when they explain to you how to do something or give you constructive criticism.
- Feel threatened and jealous of the successes of your friends and family.
- Don’t believe your circumstances define your ability to progress throughout life.
- Are always looking to improve and gain new skills.
- See effort and hard-work as the key to success rather than striving to find shortcuts.
- Learn from constructive feedback and better yourself as a result.
- Thrive on other people’s successes and lift them up and praise them when they do something amazing.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out which of the two is the preferred mindset. But, if you do have a fixed mindset, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Here are some tips to developing your growth mindset. Even if you do believe you have a growth mindset, it’s good to practice these as a part of everyday life.
Embrace Other People’s Successes
Personally, I don’t understand why we can’t just all win at life. For some people, they feel good when they see others fail. That says a lot about them and nothing about you. Everyone defines happiness in different ways; for some, it’s having a super high-flying job and earning a heap of money, for others it’s raising a family & having time at home.
Neither of those examples is any better or worse than the other. Instead of being the Mum at the school who eye rolls because Ms High-flying career is late to pick up her son, or, being the one in the office who eye rolls because Ms wants-to-stay-at-home-with-the-kids needs to leave at 3pm, just be a non-judgemental person.
Your non-judgemental attitude will rub off on others and maybe you’ll find your whole group becomes a happier one.
Be Flexible With Your Thinking
Your ideas and the ideologies you were brought up with are not the only ones that exist. Every family has different ideas on what constitutes as acceptable behaviour. Then, add teachers, friends and other outside influences into the mix and there’s a lot of people that have played a part in the very complex make up of who you are today.
Don’t just dismiss an idea that doesn’t fall in line with your way of thinking. Learn from other ideologies and gain more knowledge about them. Meet challenges with positivity and you’ll soon find your breadth of knowledge on a whole range of subjects will grow.
Stop Seeking Approval
I’m terrible at this one, but I’m trying to follow my own advice. When you prioritise making people happy over your own growth and learning, you’ll suffer as a result. People who find themselves in the growth mindset don’t look for approval from others. They might seek out advice to help them progress, but they don’t need other people’s validity in order to.
Ultimately, you know deep down what you were put on this earth to do. Who cares if Great Uncle Keith, twice removed, thinks being a trapeze artist isn’t a viable career path? Not you.
Add ‘Not Yet’ To Your List Of Favourite Phrases
No is quite a finite word in relation to your life. If you haven’t mastered something, it doesn’t mean you never will; it just means you haven’t yet. As well as adding this to your own vocabulary, you can use it on other people. If one of your friends is struggling with something, encouraging them by saying they haven’t mastered it ‘yet’ shows your belief in them.
This theory is also widely used in schools and feeds into the effort before talent argument. It’s said that praising somebody for their talent instead of their effort promotes a fixed mindset in this child and discourages progression.
What One Are You?
Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? You might even find that you have tendencies from both mindsets. I’d love to hear what you think & how you encourage growth in others.