Carol Dweck’s decades of research tells us that we can change the way we think to fulfil our potential. It’s not just our talent and abilities that bring us success but whether we utilize a fixed or growth mindset. This growth mindset animation conveys the key points from Dweck’s book, ‘Mindset: How You can Fulfil Your Potential’. We cover the main differences between the fixed and growth mindset, and then cover the mindset in all areas of life including sports, business, relationships, parenting, and teaching.
Mindset was written by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. Her decades of research on achievement and success led her to discover what great parents, teachers, CEOs and athletes already know. That is our mindset is the basis of accomplishment.
LESSON 1: The Two Mindsets (Fixed & Growth)
People with the fixed mindset believe intelligence can’t be changed. This leads to a desire to look smart. This is why they avoid challenges. They don’t want to look bad if they fail. This holds them back in the face of obstacles and they get defensive or give up easily. They see effort as pointless and believe that people are only great at things because they were born with special talents. When confronted with constructive criticism they ignore it and lastly they feel threatened by the success of others. With a fixed mindset, people achieve much less than they are capable of.
On the other hand people with the growth mindset believe intelligence can be developed. This leads to a desire to learn so instead of avoiding challenges they embrace them. They persist in the face of obstacles and see effort as a path to mastery. They accept constructive criticism and use it to their advantage. Lastly they feel inspired by and learn from the success of others. As a result they fulfill their ultimate potential.
LESSON 2: Mindset in Sports
Michael Jordan wasn’t a natural. He was one of the hardest-working athletes in the history of basketball. He was rejected by his high school varsity team and the first two NBA teams that could have chosen him. He was devastated but his mother told him to work hard and discipline himself and that’s exactly what he did. He used to leave the house at 6:00 in the morning to practice before school .
However there are people who seem to be naturally talented. Yes such people do exist but Dweck argues that with all the praise for their talents and with how little work they’ve needed to put in they can easily develop a fixed mindset. They may not learn how to work hard or cope with setbacks. A growth mindset is what allows athletes to maintain their success in the long term. Dweck found that athletes with a growth mindset found success in doing their best by learning and improving setbacks by motivating themselves and took charge of the processes that bring success.
LESSON 3: Mindset in Business
Jim Collins and his team conducted a five-year research project with the aim to find out how companies go from good to great. One thing they found was that great companies had leaders with a growth mindset. In the late 1980s IBM was in trouble. Their culture was filled with people trying to be better than each other. They had a culture of smugness and defending personal status that inhibited learning and growth. In 1993 they asked Louis Vincent Gerstner Jr to turn things around. Gerstner had a growth mindset and encouraged teamwork and got rid of the uptight culture. Over the next nine years IBM increased in value by eight hundred percent.
Ultimately Dweck argues that successful businesses need to train leaders, managers and employees to have a growth mindset. This can be done by cultivating a growth mindset environment that includes the following:
1. Presenting skills as a learner.
2. Conveying that the organization values learning and perseverance, not innate talent.
3. Giving feedback that promotes learning and future success.
4. Presenting managers as resources for learning.
LESSON 4: Mindset in Relationships
There’s two common ways of dealing with pain and heartbreak in a relationship. The first is to label yourself as unlovable and seek revenge. This is how fixed mindset people deal with it. They let these experiences scar them and prevent them from forming new relationships in the future.
For people with the growth mindset its about understanding, forgiving and moving on. Although they are deeply hurt from these negative experiences like anyone would be but they want to learn from it. In a relationship its possible to believe your qualities, your partner’s qualities and the relationship’s qualities are fixed but the growth mindset says that these three things can be developed. The two fixed ways of thinking about a relationship are as follows:
1. It wasn’t meant to be the truth that all relationships require work and effort and you can’t expect your partner to put in the same amount of efforts as you do.
2. Know your needs as well as your partner’s and communicate effectively about them.
The romanticized idea of a perfect problem free relationship that automatically works is unrealistic. The second way of thinking about a relationship is that problems indicate character flaws. People often blend their relationship problems on their partner and assign the blame to a character flaw. They think that their partner is just an angry person whereas the problem is not the person but the situation. If Julie is angry every day when Jim gets home from work, instead of blaming Julie for being an angry person he could look at the situation and try to understand why she’s always angry by communicating with her. By doing this, a solution can be found. Your partner may have different skills, beliefs and values than your own. A growth minded approach to a relationship will help your partner to reach their own goals and fulfill their potential.
LESSON 5: Mindset in Parenting & Teaching
The way children think about themselves is heavily based on the messages they receive from their parents and teachers. This has a direct effect on their learning and development. With every interaction you have with a child ask yourself “Am I giving them the fixed mindset message that they have permanent traits and I’m judging them or am I communicating a growth mindset message?” That says you are a developing person and I’m interested in your development. Another critical lesson is to not praise children’s intelligence. If you say “You learn that quickly”, “You’re so smart”, what children really hear is if I don’t learn something quickly then I’m not smart. If you say “You’re so brilliant you got good marks without even studying”, then what children really hear is I’d better quit studying or they won’t think I’m brilliant. This doesn’t mean don’t praise your children. Praise their effort and choices not their intelligence and talent. You could say you really studied for your tests and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times and you tested yourself on it.
Here is a real-life scenario of a nine-year-old Elizabeth who loved gymnastics and was determined to win the local gymnastics competition. She did very well but not enough to win. She was devastated. If you were her parents what would you do tell Elizabeth? You thought she was the best, reassure her that gymnastics is not important, tell her she has the ability and will definitely win next time? or tell her she didn’t deserve to win? Its upon the readers and what they feel. It is necessary to help Elizabeth to cultivate a growth mindset. That will bring her success in the future. Her growth minded father told her daughter, “I know how you feel. It’s so disappointing to have your hopes up and perform your best but not win but you know you haven’t really earned it yet. There were many girls who’ve been in gymnastics longer than you have and who’ve worked a lot harder than you. If this is something you really want then it’s something you have to really work for.” Elizabeth took this to heart and spent more time perfecting her routines at the next competition. She became the overall champion.
LESSON 6: How to Change Your Mindset
The first way is to access Dweck’s resources:
1. A brainology computer program designed to help students develop a growth mindset through classroom activities and online instruction. Other resources include a live workshop, webinars, keynote presentations and many more.
2. To change your mindset is merely knowing about the growth mindset.
Imagine the impact you can make by sharing this post with someone you know. It could be your friends, family, partner, students or coworkers. I value having a positive impact on people’s lives.
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Also published on Medium.