Some people feel like life is simply happening to them, like they are a victim to whatever might happen; while other people believe they are in control of their lives. Even when something happens to them that appears to come from the outside, they still see how they have power over the outcome. These people have a growth mindset, but what exactly does that mean and how do we nurture one?
Let’s start by defining what each one means:
Growth Mindset: the growth mindset is a belief that your basic qualities, including intelligence and talent, can be cultivated through effort. This means that while people may be innately different, with certain aptitudes and temperaments, all aspects of a person’s abilities and personality can be changed, regardless of where your setpoint is.
Fixed Mindset: The fixed mindset, on the other hand, is a belief that these same characteristics are fixed at birth or become locked-in by a certain age. This means that some people are just inherently more talented or intelligent than others and that’s just the way it is.
If you feel like at least part of you believes that intelligence and talent are fixed, you are not alone. Most people, especially in the western world, believe this to be true because our culture teaches us that it is. Emphasis is put on testing us to determine our intelligence, such as taking an IQ test or being graded. No one stops to think that a single test taken on a certain day at a certain age cannot possibly predict how well you would do on the test years later, after learning more, or when you are in a better mood. But we are taught that these tests identify what we’ve got and that’s it. We’re stuck with the results.
This leads to a limiting mindset. It creates a feeling like your life is out of your control and therefore you are unlikely to act because you don’t believe it will make a difference. In response, you lean toward inaction and avoid challenging yourself to consider possible solutions. However, when you are experiencing a growth mindset, you are open to all possible solutions, and as a result lean towards action. You believe you hold influence and feel empowered to direct your own life, which makes you feel more confident.
We all experience both types of mindsets at different points in our life but cultivating a stronger growth mindset is possible. Developing your growth mindset will help you become more resilient and better at coping when things don’t go the way you planned. To cultivate a growth mindset, begin by taking more action and seeing what happens. Doing this over time shows yourself that you have more influence over your life than you thought, and you will begin to see the world very differently. You will begin to believe that the more effort you put into something, whether it’s practicing or learning, the better you will become. You will enjoy challenges and see them as an opportunity to learn something and expand your boundaries. You will see life as a learning experience and find joy in progress and learning. What is most important to know, is that you can change and improve your talents, skills, intelligence, characteristics, and behaviors. While you don’t always have control over events that happen to you, you always have control over how you respond to them.
Is there an area in your life where you are experiencing a fixed mindset? Challenge yourself to Take Action and see if you feel more empowered!