One of the most impactful books I’ve ever read is Mindset by Carol Dweck. In this book, she explains real-world differences between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. Your mindset is the view you adopt and see the world and your experiences through. It profoundly effects how you live your life. She also talks about the strategies she used herself to go from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset. The good news is, if you (or your kids) have a fixed mindset, you CAN change that!
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
Here are some examples I took from the book that can easily explain the difference between a growth or fixed mindset. I find that by reading these examples, you can identify for yourself, and others, where they fall.
The Growth Mindset
People with a Growth Mindset:
- Believe the hand they are dealt is just the STARTING point for development
- Seek experiences that will stretch themselves over the tried-and-true that they know
- Believe that qualities can be cultivated
- Understand that exceptional people can identify their own strengths and weaknesses
- Tend to convert setbacks into successes
In a growth mindset, failure happens but doesn’t define you. They know that they can improve and cultivate new qualities so they see a failure as an opportunity to learn and growth. Failure is a challenge, not a final destination.
The Fixed Mindset
People with a Fixed Mindset:
- Believe the hand they are limited by the hand they are dealt
- They believe that qualities are carved in stone, they have them or they don’t
- They create urgency to constantly prove themself
- Won’t put in effort if they believe they’ll fail
- They don’t ask for help and are not coach-able
- If they don’t think they will succeed, they avoid it
- Fear challenge and devalue effort
- Sensitive about being wrong and making mistakes
In a fixed mindset, failure happens are seen as incompetence. Because they believe they’re basically born with a talent or not, and don’t believe they can acquire qualities like getting smarter, be great at a sport etc.. They allow the failure to define them. If they can’t improve, then why try at all?
How do you develop a Growth or Fixed Mindset?
You develop a Growth or Fixed Mindset through your experiences. We’ve all heard, and probably have told the story of a baby learning to walk. Babies struggle, they fall, but they always get back up again and eventually, they all learn to walk. Now, I want you to think of how the baby reacts when try to walk. Most often, the parents cheer, smile and give their approval of their EFFORT. And when the baby falls, again the parents stand them right back up, smiling and cheer them on for their EFFORT. This parent behavior tells the child that falling is part of learning.
Praising EFFORT creates a Growth Mindset.
What do you think would happen if the parents didn’t reward the EFFORT but only the END RESULT? Think of the same story. What if the baby fell and the parents looked on in disappointment and just told them to try harder next time? How do you think that would effect the baby’s confidence and desire to try again?
Praising RESULTS creates a Fixed Mindset.
Fast forward and your sweet baby learning to walk is not eight-years-old and is learning how to multiply. Do the parents and teachers offer the same cheering on and approval of their EFFORT during the learning process? Do parents and teachers reward the EFFORT or the END RESULT?
The Power of YET
The most simple, YET effective strategy to help turn your (or your kids) fixed mindset into a growth mindset!
I can’t do this… YET!
This doesn’t work… YET!
I didn’t score a goal… YET!
I don’t know how to do that… YET!
How we initially f’d up BOTH of our daughters
We have two daughters. And, initially, we screwed up with both in this area.
We wanted her to have high self-esteem and confidence. So when she did anything at all, we told her how SMART she was or even worse how she was the BEST (ugh.. cringing as I write this). We thought we were helping her self-esteem by validating their intelligence and creating a winner.
After a few years, we began to notice that both developed a Fixed Mindset. Although we didn’t know that term at the time, we saw them pullback on learning new things and not put effort into school.
We finally sat her down and asked why she didn’t do her homework consistently. Her response, “Because you tell me how SMART I am, and I’m the BEST so why do I need to learn anything else?”
Around the time she became a teenager and got a job. We were pleasantly surprised at how she showed up as an employee. Always on time, smiling and gained praise from her employers. We put the strategies in place we learned from Mindset by Carol D. To develop her growth mindset, we started to authentically praised her WORK ETHIC, instead of her sales.
She’s now twenty-four years old. We still use the strategies when talking with her. She’s crushing it in her job. But we don’t give her praise on her sales, we give her praise on her WORK ETHIC and her desire to learn how to be a better sales rep. We praise the EFFORT she puts into her personal development. I’m happy to report that she 100% has a growth mindset, and I’m so grateful as I know it will profoundly effects her success and happiness.
With out youngest, we noticed something different. She naturally was very quick witted. She grasped concepts very easily. And, unfortunately, we began to praise how SMART she was again. This time, we’d catch ourselves and go back to praising EFFORT. But something else happened, she went to a school where perfection was subconsciously encouraged. Unfortunately, when you set the bar at perfection, and then your perfect skill is reinforced with happy parents, anything less than perfect is failure.
As she entered Kindergarten I noticed that she wanted to try new things but when she did, she wouldn’t allow us to help and if she failed, she got very emotional and would cry. Ugh. She’s developing a Fixed Mindset.
We read the darn book. How could we possibly F this up AGAIN.
The good news is, all wasn’t lost, we caught is early and we knew how to help her create a Growth Mindset.
Our daily motto became, progress NOT perfection. We began to remind her that she was in school to LEARN and every-time she made a mistake, we cheered for her effort. This year, as she entered the 3rd grade, I asked her what she wanted her goal to be for the year. She said, “to be coach-able”. Ahh. My baby’s Growth Mindset is back!
- Determine if you, or your kids have a Fixed or Growth Mindset.
- Read the book Mindset by Carol D
- Implement the strategies
Enjoy the benefits of a Growth Mindset!!!