Carol S. Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, claims that people can be divided into two major groups, those with a fixed mindset, and those with a growth mindset. She says the following:
“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.”
I find the things that Dweck says to be quite interesting. I have always observed this type of behaviour in people, but never really spent anytime looking deeper into the subject. Now though, when I hear a professor of psychology talk about it, it just makes so much sense, especially because Dweck’s studies concern human motivation and development.
When I studied in college and later university, I could really tell the difference between the so-called fixed mindset and the growth mindset. What made those with a fixed mindset stand out, was the fact that they were naturally smart, and that they never took their time to prepare for an exam for longer than a lunch break. No-no, they could if they wanted to, but because they knew that they were going to get an average grade either way, there really was no reason for them to try so hard.
I must point out that I have never considered myself as one of those people that can just party the whole night long, and then go to an exam early in the morning and get a “C” on it. I guess you could say that I’m just not smart enough, but for me to pass anything in uni, I always had to study. And in order to get a good grade, I had to study for days and smetimes even weeks.
The fact that others succeeded at things with so little effort obviously annoyed the heck out of me. I always thought to myself, am I just that stupid? I to this day can’t say whether it is the lack of my intelligence, but I just prefer to say that we are all “different”. 🙂
Despite being annoyed, I saw that many of these people had little interest in studying. Classes weren’t really challenging for them, and they weren’t enthusiastic about trying to learn anything new either. With them having that attitude, I clearly saw that the only reason why they were still able to keep up is because they were just naturally fast thinkers.
Just like Dweck explains, some people see themselves to have fixed talents and abilities, and with no reason to improve them. And it’s true, I agree that looking “smart” is something they constantly practice, even in the moments when it’s clear that they have no idea what is being asked from them.
Inevitably, it makes sense to think that only fast thinkers can actually fall into the category of people with a fixed mindset. Because if they would in fact have poor performance in education or at work, and also wouldn’t bother with improving themselves, it would be a total chaos for them. As Guy Kawasaki points out, you can be arrogant, or stupid, but being arrogant and stupid is just a bad combination.
Like I already mentioned, I never was one of those typical smart guys. To do good I always had to work hard, and still do today.
The fact that I was aware of my capabilities, forced me to become a hard worker. I clearly understand that success can be measured with the amount of work that you are willing to put into something. Moreover, the hard work that I have applied throughout my life has proven to me that the growth mindset is the only mindset that you should have if you want to be remarkable.
I strongly believe that there is no one born with certain talents and intelligence that cannot be worsened or improved throughout lifetime. Yes, I agree that we are all “different”, and that everyone has their own starting point regarding what they can and can’t do, but this must not in any way be taken as a universal truth. It is all a matter of our own psychology. If we choose to believe that we have a fixed mindset, we close off all further development from our life.
Now, the ones of you that are really much into self development, are probably thinking right now, how can someone really think that constant improvement of the self is impossible? Well, I was at first just as shocked as you are. Apparently, as the studies show, a good portion of the population has this mentality. Moreover, as Dweck argues, the people that see themselves with a growth mindset also have a higher chance of living a stress-free life with a higher level of success. Why would anyone create then these artificial development boarders for themselves?
Indeed, it seems that the growth mindset is something that belongs more to optimistic people, since they have the belief in a better and more developed future. And we all know that according to statistics, optimists tend to live longer than pessimists. When we are certain that we can learn, life’s meaningless activities suddenly gain value.
Also, the need to brag about things that people with a growth mindset know, or to try to look better in front of others, is a lot lower than with those that have a fixed mindset. With a growth mindset you don’t have to worry about your knowledge just “ending” at some point, because everything can be taught and everything can be learned. When we believe in a life with endless self development, it becomes easier to admit something we don’t know. This is just the way humans behave, and this has been thoroughly studied.
Of course, it is hard to find someone that would be purely either that mindset or the other, but in any case, there exists the tendency to lean more towards either the fixed or growth mindset. Moreover, it is said that not all people are even aware that they live with the fixed mindset mentality, just like I wasn’t aware that these terms even exist.
To conclude, I must say that all of this makes total sense. People that have the belief that they can always improve and learn, are also the ones to take action in life and to make serious changes. On the other hand, it is not a surprise that if you think you were born with a set of talents that cannot be improved, you will most-likely not be leaving your comfort zone. It’s a pity really, since so many talents are left undiscovered. I really feel like having a fixed mindset is a way to kill the possibility of finding a bigger purpose to life.
If you struggle in your life, and you feel like there are so many people smarter and better than you, worry no more. Here at Growth Evolution Development ground we are all about self development and becoming better. Nothing is impossible until you think that way. There are thousands of examples of people that couldn’t achieve at first. They tried so many new things, but nothing worked for them. With time though, after hundreds of defeats, they finally managed to to become successful in that one thing that they loved and felt most passionate about. You know what made this possible? Their will to keep on learning and growing, will to keep trying over and over again, and by having an unshakable belief that one day they will make it.
Once again, if you have troubles with motivation and believing that anything is possible, I highly recommend to read self development books and to watch content on it. The internet is crowded with such material. One such example is Tony Robbins, a very famous motivational speaker that has helped thousands of people. The first thing that you have to do is to begin feeding your mind with the success stories of others. Have in mind the thought that if they could do it, so can you!
As always, feel free to leave your comment below and to share with us what you think. Thank you and good luck!