What is Mindset? (Fixed vs. Growth)
The hottest topic among those of us with goals to achieve is mindset. You may have heard the term fixed or growth mindset, and are curious to dive deeper. Perhaps you’re already deep into the mindset conversation and want to take it a step further. In this article, we’ll cover what mindset is, the difference between fixed, vs. growth mindset, and look at how you can improve your mindset using self-awareness.
Mindset is an established set of attitudes held by someone. Psychology Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University categorizes mindset as either fixed or growth. In a 2012 interview, Dweck offers this distinction for fixed vs. growth mindset. Students in a fixed mindset believe their basic abilities, intelligence, and their talents are fixed traits. You either have it or you don’t. Their concern is looking smart. “Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character.” There’s more concern about how others perceive them. “Students in a growth mindset understand that their talents and abilities can develop through effort, good teaching, and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein”. They believe the willingness to learn new things, and hard work, allow anyone to be successful.
Much of Dweck’s research is in the education field, observing children’s approaches to solving difficult problems. Some kids see a difficult problem as a challenge (growth mindset), while others believe difficult problems are impossible to solve. They quickly become self-conscious about their intelligence, trapped within this fixed mindset.
A growth mindset allows you to view challenges (even failure) as valuable lessons. The most successful people share failures, which could have quickly ended their journeys to success. In my post 3 Ways to Bounce Back From Failure, I talk about how Steve Jobs was initially fired (from the $2 billion company that is Apple), before returning years later as CEO. J.K. Rowling, ( the mastermind behind Harry Potter), dealt with “the implosion of a short-lived marriage, becoming a single parent, jobless, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” Both of these brilliant minds found outrageous success, (amid, and after), storms that challenged their mindset. They embody what the growth mindset is all about.
You don’t have to go far to find examples of a fixed mindset. The coworker always blaming management, coworkers, and ridiculous policies, for their lack of success. Your best friend repeating the false truths that “social media makes it impossible to be in a serious relationship.” Perhaps parents warned you not to “build castles in the sky” when it comes to your lofty goals. When people in a fixed mindset hit a wall, it often ends their journey. Giving up in a fixed mindset may look like a sudden loss of interest in pursuing a goal, (possibly jumping to a new pursuit). There’s usually tons of justification, (not enough time, resources, competitors are too big). One bump in the road can cause someone in a fixed mindset to look for and focus on reasons why it won’t work out.
Why Self-Awareness is Necessary for a Growth Mindset
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Mindset is an established set of attitudes (crucial in how we face and cope with challenges). At the nucleus of a finely tuned growth mindset is an intimate knowledge and understanding of one’s inner workings (self-awareness).
Self-awareness; the way we define ourselves at any given moment dramatically affects how we think, feel, and react to everything in our internal and external world. We develop our perspectives (attitudes and opinions) based on our own unique personal perceptions (or experiences). If we are self-aware enough to understand how and why in what we do, a degree of control over our thoughts is more easily achievable. This, in turn, makes the navigation of mindset easier as well. Because self-awareness requires us to dig deeper, embrace constant evolution and opportunities to learn, it leads to a growth mindset,
In What is Self-Awareness is, you see how someone lacking self-awareness buys into false truths, and self-limiting beliefs easily. Lacking self-awareness, you may quickly develop the false truth, that after a few bad relationships, you’re a loser magnet. You may complain to your friends that you attract every looser within ten miles. Your self-awareness, (being fed this constant negative self-talk about your relationships), is that you’ll only ever attract damaged people. You may begin to see yourself as a pushover, never getting, (and possibly not deserving), any better.
A self-awareness that leaves you feeling less than, and defeated, can lead to a fixed mindset about relationships, (and human nature). “Relationships always end in heartbreak.” “People suck, and that’s just the way it is.” Low self-awareness keeps you repeating the same patterns, backing you into the corner, of a fixed mindset.
A person with more self-awareness can take the same situation, and create an opportunity for introspection, and improvement. In my book Who the F#*k Are You?! Get Self-Aware to Stop Getting Your Ass Kicked, and Live a Kick-Ass Life, one of the top habits of highly successful self-aware people, is taking responsibility for their actions. Stumbling through a couple of crummy relationships signals that it’s time to pause and regroup.
Those with high self-awareness understands the quote “my vibe attracts my tribe,” immediately seeking to uncover and remedy, their crappy relationship karma. Their self-awareness empowers them with a growth mindset, seeking to problem solve, rather than throw their hands up, (chalking their toxic relationships up to bad luck). They understand the power of taking responsibility for their actions. Blaming others leaves you reliant on them to fix your problem.
For every aspect of life you seek fulfillment in, (relationships/dating, career/entrepreneurship, health/fitness, parenting/caretaker), there are false truths, and self-limiting beliefs, threatening your success and fulfillment. The false truths we hear others repeat, often become part of our negative self-talk. This toxic combination feeds our self-awareness in a way that keeps us believing the worst about the world, others, and, most importantly, ourselves.
My page How Self-Awareness Helps You Manifest Abundance Fast shows you how low self-awareness stops you from attracting what you want. Studies show that when we hear a message often enough, (even if it’s a lie), our brains believe it. It’s easy to see how a low self-awareness and persistent outside influences can keep us stuck in a fixed mindset. Knowing yourself intimately makes you harder to control or intimidate. Building your mindset on the solid foundation of self-awareness allows a growth mindset to develop naturally.
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