I’m sure most of you would have heard the word “mindset”. It’s become a bit of a catch cry of the masses when the topic of personal development, leadership, sport or change is discussed. We talk about having a positive mindset, growth or fixed mindset, mindset of champions, and many more mindset motivational tag lines.
But what exactly is mindset and how do we know what our own mindset is?
I’m going to avoid going in depth into the psychology, and if you are interested in learning about mindset in detail, find the book “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success” by Dr Carol Dweck, which in my view is one of the essential books everyone must read!
So how do we understand our own mindset, and how do we know if it is working in our favour or against us? Yes, our mindset can be what is holding us back!
Firstly let me ask you these question;
I will address the answers for you at the end.
In the shortest and most simple terms, mindset is the way we see ourselves in the world. It is a lens through which we filter everything we see, feel, hear and think about our place and abilities. It is that which determines things like our persistence, tolerance, work ethic, creativity, potential, and ability to change.
Consider the first time you learnt to ride a bike. Did you fall off and try, try, try again. Thinking, I almost got it, just one more try. Rushing back to try again until you’re able to get your balance and ride on your own? Or did you fall a few times and feel that this is too hard. I can’t do this. I must be a slow learner. This is stupid, I’ll try some other time.
This is mind set.
Our ability to believe in ourselves to achieve, create change, learn and improve. It sounds simple doesn’t it, but it isn’t. It sounds as simple as making a choice, but mindset is our automated framework of thinking which helps us create our reality.
There are two camps when it comes to mindset. Growth, the mindset where it enables you to learn, persevere and be optimistic, no matter the outcome. While in the red corner, we have Fixed mindset, where we are unable to see beyond those skills, abilities and only see the cards we are dealt as our fate. Born with the skills and intelligence we will someday die with.
The thing with these opposing mindsets is that you can change them. It is possible with the wrong reinforcement and poor environment, to move from growth to fixed. Just as, more importantly, it is possible to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. It is also possible to switch back and forward between the two and experience both depending on the situations.
If you are a person who was told your entire life how skilled and intelligent you were, or you’re just naturally gifted, and you breezed through school, sport or anything else you tried, it is highly likely you suffer a fixed mindset. WHAT? I hear you think, very loudly. Shouldn’t such ease and success lead to a growth mindset?
Counter intuitively it does not. While a person who had to fight hard, spend time studying, rehearsing, practising repeatedly to learn their skills will more than likely have developed a growth mindset. See, our mindset is developed from the second we are born. From the inputs and messages, we are flooded with initially by our parents, friends, teachers and so on.
The trick to a growth mindset isn’t how good, or successful you are, but in how you strive to learn and become better. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”? This is mindset in action. The hardest working person is going to win in the long term against a person who starts great and never works to improve, simply executing on their talent.
So the secret to Growth mindset is to always see the lesson and the path to improvement, then work to get better. Whatever it is, your own set of skills or knowledge, or your business operations, maybe your leadership skills, relationship or a hobby. Try, fail, assess and learn, try again. Practice and apply your skills with a view to always improve on your previous efforts. You don’t have a finish line with a growth mindset, you only have a yard stick which measures your performance against previous effort.
If you find that you just repeat your best and that is on a repeated loop. If you think yourtalent is carrying you to your goals, or you just can’t see why you need to get any better, then maybe you need to read the book I recommended above and start looking for ways to challenge yourself to work at getting better.
Mindset is everything. It can be the difference between happiness and frustration. Between a job and a career, a hobby and a business, amateur and professional.
To address my previous questions, if you think you are born with all the skills, talent and abilities you will ever have. If you feel you can’t change the cards you are dealt and that your intelligence is limited to what you were born with, then you might be suffering a fixed mindset. (Certainly invest in Dr Dweck’s book!) Where as if you think you can change your talent level, improve your skills and manipulate the cards you hold, and you feel that the only limit on your intelligence is the limit you place on yourself, then you are well on your way down the growth mindset path.
So when you next face a challenge, hit a wall or find something too hard, will you accept it as how it is? (fixed) Or, will you seek out the lesson, the message, the clue that will assist you to improving your next effort?
To test yourself and see if you are fixed or growth mindset oriented, try this quiz HERE
Until next time…. Coach Vaughan
Author: Vaughan Carder (B.A Humanities)