In her decades of research on achievement and success, she has observed there are two mindsets – “Growth mindset” and “Fixed mindset”. Now lets peel the concept to look underneath.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They believe they are born with it and it is a genetic gift that has been passed on. They spend their time documenting and showcasing their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that their inherent intelligence and talent alone creates success—without effort. Upon this description, surely some names from your office and friends circle pop up.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities and attributes can be developed through focus, dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a drive for learning and the much needed resilience that is essential for greater accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
In the growth mindset category , my favorite example is and always will be Steefi Graf. Graf played in her first professional tournament in October 1982 at Stuttgart, Germany. She lost her first round match 6–4, 6–0 to Tracy Austin, a two-time US Open champion and former World No. 1 player. At the start of her first full professional year in 1983, Graf was 13 years old and ranked World No. 124. She won no titles during the next three years, by which time she could have given up if she had the belief that “she wasn’t born with it”. But with her continued hard work, practice and resilience , her rankings climbed steadily to World No. 98 in 1983, No. 22 in 1984, and No. 6 in 1985. The breakthrough came in 1987 and the rest was history.
As per Carol, since the people with the fixed mindset are driven by the belief that their traits and personalities are a given and cannot be changed nor developed, they constantly worry about their traits and how adequate they are. They have something to prove to themselves and others. Those are wasted clock cycles.
Contrast that with the growth mindset – they see their qualities as things that can be developed through their dedication and effort. Sure they’re happy if they’re brainy or talented, but they consider that’s just the starting point. They burn their clock cycles on continuous learning and focused development. They understand that no one has ever accomplished great things—not Edison, not Ambani, not Mozart, not AR Rahman, not your role model —without years of passionate practice, perseverance and learning before they could scale the pinnacle of success.
Like two hands, we have both the mindsets. What we prefer to use gets stronger and becomes a natural choice. As per her research, the good news is that we can train to develop the growth mindset. We can listen to the voice of the fixed mindset which would say that “you aren’t good enough” but we have a choice to take the growth mindset action. Over time, which voice you heed becomes pretty much your choice. Whether you take on the challenge wholeheartedly, learn from your setbacks and try again, hear the criticism and act on it to make progress.
I have resolved to practice hearing both voices; however I am going to attempt to practice acting on the growth mindset.
I am going to mind it.
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