Do You Have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset?
Understanding this key question could be the difference in you achieving everything you have ever wanted, or staying where you are and never progressing.
First things first, you must understand what a growth mindset and a fixed mindset are and how they differ before you can establish which is most applicable to your current state of mind. Only after understanding and identifying this, can you then look to improve your mindset and reap the benefits that come with this?
What is a Fixed Mindset?
A Fixed Mindset – People with a fixed mindset believe that people are born with a certain amount of intelligence or ability and they can’t do much to change that. These people focus on looking smart over learning, see the effort as a sign of low ability, and struggle in the face of challenges.
What is a Growth Mindset?
A Growth Mindset – People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence and skills can be developed. These people focus on learning over just looking smart, see the effort as the key to success, and thrive in the face of a challenge.
Put simply, both of these types of mindset are the terms used to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning, ability and intelligence.
Why is having a Growth Mindset important?
The terms were launched into the mainstream after a seminal growth mindset study almost 20 years ago. Since then, the impact of growth mindset has been studied by many different researchers around the world. The overwhelming majority of these have found that having a growth mindset is associated with getting better grades and developing new skills.
But beyond improved attainment, research suggests having a growth mindset has other advantages, including coping better with transition, higher self-regulation, grit and pro-social behaviours. There is also evidence suggesting mental health benefits – those with a growth mindset have been found to be less aggressive, with higher self-esteem and fewer symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
So why am I talking about growth mindsets? My story.
I regularly receive comments and questions like this:
“How do you have so much self-discipline”
“you must have always been a self-motivated person”
“you must have good genetics”
“I wish I had the willpower that you have”
The truth is, I haven’t always been like I am now. I actually had terrible willpower and self-control as a teenager and in my early 20s. Who I am now has been a process of self-experimentation and consistency over the course of 10 years.
However, the most important discovery in my life was realising that I have the potential to be in control of every thought, feeling and emotion in my life. I realised that I can achieve anything I want if I put my mind to it.
Without realising it I developed a growth mindset, realising that with enough effort and consistency I could do anything I wanted.
Now, I am lucky enough to be in a position where I have a platform like this to share my experiences and advice. My continued aim is to motivate others to succeed in optimising their health, fitness and performance – across all aspects of their lives. It is so important that you understand the concept of having a growth mindset and how to apply it to your own life, as without one, it makes any goals you have that much harder to achieve!
The negatives of having a Fixed Mindset
Having a fixed mindset can cause problems…
According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck who leads the field in this area of Psychology.
She explains that while a “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”
“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then, you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”
“I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves in [a learning setting], in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”
The importance of Neuroplasticity
Definition: Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity and neural plasticity, is the ability of the brain to change throughout an individual’s life.
Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Research on brain plasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons can change with experience. With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones.
These discoveries have shown us that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practising, and following good nutrition and sleep habits.
I watched the below video when I was about 16 and it had a profound impact on the way that I perceive myself, my abilities and the world around me.
TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THIS VIDEO!!!
How to develop a growth mindset
Realise that you have the potential to achieve anything you set your mind to
This is the first and most important step to achieving a growth mindset. You MUST believe that you are capable of anything with consistency and hard work.
Acknowledge and embrace imperfections
Accept that you are not perfect, like everyone else, you have strengths and weaknesses. Being honest and open about those weaknesses doesn’t make you less of a person, it gives you the opportunity to strengthen those weaknesses through learning.
View challenges as opportunities
Do not shy away from challenges or uncomfortable situations. Use them as learning opportunities to become a better/stronger person.
Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.”
When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.
Stop seeking approval
When you prioritise approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth. The key to happiness and success is to stop worrying about what other people think – realising this can change your life.
These techniques can be applied through every aspect of your life, whether it’s your job, education, lifestyle habits or relationships with others.
Having a Growth Mindset is a Skill
Don’t expect to master this overnight, think of it as a skill. Like any new skill, at first it will be difficult, and you won’t be very good at it. However, because our brains are ‘plastic’, with consistency you will master the skill of having a growth mindset, which could change every aspect of your life for the better.