What is Mindset? (Fixed vs. Growth)
Mindset is the hottest topic among those of us with goals to achieve. You may have heard the term fixed or growth mindset, and are curious to dive deeper. In this article, we’ll cover what mindset is, the difference between fixed, vs. growth mindset, and look at how self-awareness plays a key role in creating and remaining in a growth mindset.
Mindset is an established set of attitudes held by someone. Psychology Professor Carol Dweck categorizes mindset as either fixed or growth. In a fixed mindset, students believe their abilities, intelligence, and talents are set in stone. You either have it or you don’t. They place more emphasis on how others perceive them.
In a growth mindset, students realize that their talents and abilities continuously develop through effort, good teaching, and persistence. They believe placing a higher value on the willingness to learn new things, and hard work, allow anyone to succeed.
Much of Dweck’s research is in the education field, observing children’s approaches to solving difficult problems. In a growth mindset, students view complicated problems as a challenge or opportunity to rise to the occasion. In a fixed mindset, complications are impossible to solve.
A growth mindset allows you to even view failure as a valuable lesson. The most successful people overcame monumental failures, which could have quickly sabotaged their success. In my post 3 Ways to Bounce Back From Failure, we look at how Steve Jobs was initially fired from Apple, before returning to become 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 challenges their mindset. They embody what the growth mindset is all about.
Familiar Examples of a Fixed Mindset
You don’t have to go far to find examples of a fixed mindset. The coworker that’s always blaming management, peers, and company policies, for their lack of success.
Your best friend who believes that all relationships end in cheating, so he doesn’t bother trying. Perhaps you had parents like my practical inlaws who 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 always justification, (not enough time, resources, competitors are too big). One bump in the road often causes someone in a fixed mindset to bail on their pursuits.
Why Self-Awareness is Necessary for a Growth Mindset
At the nucleus of a finely tuned growth mindset is an intimate knowledge and understanding of one’s inner workings. Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of your character, feelings, motives, and desires.
How you define yourself at any given moment dramatically affects how you think, feel, and react to everything in your internal and external world. Because self-awareness requires you to dig deeper, embrace constant evolution, and opportunities to learn, it inadvertently leads to a growth mindset.
Self-awareness already conditions you to accept and navigate situations with flexibility, which is key to a growth mindset.
In What is Self-Awareness 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. Seeing yourself as a pushover, never getting, (and possibly not deserving), any better, negatively penetrates your self-awareness.
A person with more self-awareness can take the same situation and create an opportunity for introspection and improvement. In my book, one of the top habits of 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 immediately seek to uncover and remedy their crappy relationship karma. Their self-awareness empowers them to problem solve, rather than throw their hands up, (chalking their toxic relationships up to bad luck).
As you can see, consciously increasing your self-awareness also gets you into the habit of thinking fluidly, leading to a growth mindset, rather than boxing yourself into a fixed mindset with rigid thinking. Read this for tips on becoming more self-aware.