Mindset: Can We Tackle Our Traits?
Updated: Jun 15, 2018
Throughout life, no matter our age, we are met with various challenges and experiences. As we work through things, we turn to our mindset to help us process and direct our actions through the situations. Our mindset applies our beliefs and views regarding our personal traits, talents, skills, intelligence, and personality to assess what is going on and guide our decisions.
Mindset was popularized by Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck. She has dedicated a large part of her career studying mindset in different settings: school, work, athletics, relationships, parenting, etc. Her work has described how you view yourself and your abilities can impact how you navigate your goals, successes, setbacks, relationships, and more. Through her research, she has identified two primary types of mindset: growth and fixed.
What are Growth and Fixed Mindsets?
The fixed mindset believes a person possesses a set amount of ability. People with a fixed mindset feel their assets and characteristics are already defined. This viewpoint can influence people to work hard to prove themselves and what they bring to a situation, a challenge, or a relationship. This can set people up for the need of evaluation and confirmation of who they are and if the skills they have are enough based on the results of their actions.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, views assets and characteristics as more fluid. This mindset believes people can change, learn, and influence their experiences, abilities, and relationships. People with this mindset are motivated to influence a result through effort versus accept a situation.
Why does this matter?
Mindset has a direct relationship with how people address their lives; it can serve as a basis for coping skills and influences the potential we believe we have. Developing a growth mindset allows us to learn from experience and persevere to push our limits. We then view feedback and setbacks as an opportunity to learn, improve, and grow versus seeing it as judgement, inadequacy, or limitations. Research has reported those with a growth mindset are more likely to learn from mistakes, are more motivated to succeed, put forth greater effort, embrace challenges, seek feedback, learn faster, and demonstrate greater resilience. These results have been described across many settings, including the school environment, business world, athletics, and in relationships.
Can we influence mindset?
Absolutely! Everyone is a combination of growth and fixed mindsets. We can tend to lean more one way than the other for most situations, but there can be certain triggers and insecurities we are much more fixed about. Challenging situations often bring out our mindset and can expose the things we feel more fixed about. Awareness to our evaluation of the moment can allows us to direct our mindset and apply strategies. We are then able to step back and determine what a growth mindset approach to the present situation would be, allowing us to make the effort to apply it. When we understand what triggers our fixed mindset, we are able to address and work through them. Repetitive practice improves our ability to draw on the approach of applying a growth mindset to the different areas of our lives.
What are strategies we can use to develop a growth mindset?
Embrace who you are, but know you are capable of change. Explore your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Allow yourself to understand who you are, but know that this has the capacity to change. You can continually better yourself and set goals.
Reflect and reframe. View challenge as a positive. When things are hard, step back and see it as opportunity for improvement. Needing to improve is not a sign of failure. Difficult isn’t a wall to keep you out, it is a chance to push your potential beyond what you thought you could.
Develop patience for the process. Allow yourself the time to grow and continuously change. It does not happen overnight and you aren’t going to be good at this immediately. Appreciate the lessons of the journey and how they are stepping stones to the bigger goal. Little victories are successes that develop our traits. We can’t get to the top of the mountain without all the steps in between.
Focus on strategy, effort, and the learning process. There are many different learning styles and ways we grow best. Work to develop strategy and appreciate effort versus emphasizing the result. Recognize what you have success in and how you achieved it. Can the same concepts be applied to the areas that are more difficult? Or maybe you turn to other resources to help you? Utilizing other people, sources, and processes counts as learning strategies. Getting help allows us to work harder and smarter.
Stop seeking approval. You are growing and learning for yourself. When your efforts are placed on proving yourself to someone else, you are giving yourself a ceiling for how much you can grow based on their expectations. You are working towards your potential, not someone else's. You own your attitude, your learning, and your grit.
We will write more articles on mindset and strategies to develop it, but we wanted to introduce the concept first. For more information on mindset from the expert herself, check out the book, Mindset - The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck. It is a great read!