Mindset for the Uninitiated
We've all heard platitudes like these:
"In order to succeed, you need the right mindset."
"Without the right mindset, you won't win the game."
Although not necessarily inaccurate, these statements miss the mark and are not correct uses of Mindset as coined by Stanford professor and research psychologist, Carol Dweck, in her book by the same name. In "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success", Dweck explores sources of motivation, intelligence, and ability. Specifically, she writes about how individuals fall along a continuum of having a "fixed" or "growth" mindset. Although seemingly simple, the distinction between the two endpoint beliefs can be the difference between a life limited by fear of failure or one that embraces the inevitable falls and bumps associated with navigating our world.
As quoted from an interview with Dr. Dweck:
"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."
Where does this leave a person with a fixed mindset . . . forever trailing further and further behind their growth mindset counterparts while stuck in their belief that they either have a growth mindset or not? Not even close. Our mindset is a learned trait. With proper guidance and direction, anyone can learn to turn the thought of "I have no upper body strength" to ". . . with practice and persistence, I'm going to gain more upper body strength". Likewise, we can replace a belief of "we're not athletes in our family" with ". . . taking care of myself and my family is important to me, and I'm going to commit to going to the gym and learning how to eat better so that we can have a better life."
Make the decision to tolerate and hopefully someday even enjoy the process of not succeeding on your first, second, or even tenth attempt at learning something new. Don't let a fixed mindset limit the fullness of your life in your relationships, career, or health.
A growth mindset will expand your definition of success and thus your experience of being human. And as you release yourself of the all-or-nothing views of success and failure, you give permission to all the people whose lives you touch to do the same.