For most of my life, I have lived with a fixed mindset. I would set expectations to things and I would identify myself by what the results were.
I was more focused on achieving a goal than I was on facilitating a process.
It’s all well and good, except that over time, a fixed mindset starts to erode on your progress because in a fixed mindset there is only so far you can go. A fixed mindset labels you by what you are. People with fixed mindsets say things like “I’m not a natural athlete” or “I’m not good at math” or “I’m naturally good at gymnastics.”
What the fixed mindset takes for granted is our human capacity to adapt and learn.
Growth mindset focus people don’t think about the way things are, but rather they focus on the process. Growth mindset focus people don’t worry about the results as much as they worry about the process.
A Deeper Look
The work on fixed vs growth mindset is largely credited to Carol Dweck. Carol is a researcher at Stanford University. This is what Carol has to say about fixed vs growth mindset.
In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.
The concept is simple but it is the application that is profound. How often do we limit ourselves by our results, our natural abilities or even our successes?
The one that stick out to me personally is the fixed mindset I have about math. It works for me in the short term because I never have to be concerned with failing at math. Every time Juliana and I go out to dinner, I immediately give her the bill so she can add up the tip.
But the truth is, I’ve never tried to get better at math. I’ve fixed my thinking into convincing myself that I’m bad at math, simply because I failed algebra two years in a row in high school.
But a growth mindset version of me wouldn’t even be concerned with whether I became good at math or not. I should be concerned with improving.
Fixed Mindset in Success
It’s a bit counter intuitive, but even when we are accomplishing our goals, we run the risk of falling into the trap of a fixed mindset.
I am a believer in setting goals. For me, it helps to have something to look at and point to and say “this is what I am working towards.” Not everyone agrees, but that’s how I do things.
Regardless, I need to be more aware of being mindful of the process and not the result.
For instance, if my goal is to get a 6-pack, then I will focus only on the result. My mindset is still fixed. It is limited to only the specific set of parameters that will get me closer to having that 6-pack that I want so bad.
However, if I am working towards my goal with a growth mindset, I am thinking more about the process. More about the culmination of habits that will help me grow and a second hand result of that will be the 6-pack that I worked for.
It takes discipline because growth mindset is not about instant gratification. It is about long term, substantial growth.
If you take that same example of getting a 6-pack, a growth mindset version of me would be thinking about getting my cardio in, about changing my eating habits, about building new routines to improve my overall health, stamina and longevity.
A bi product of my growth mindset would be 6-pack abs. So it’s a win win, but it still requires self sacrifice because there is less to congratulate ourselves about. The victory is not actually in achieving the goal, but rather in the day to day process.
Some More Thoughts on Growing
I am just learning about growth and fixed mindset. I never set out to be more growth mindset oriented. If only by accident, I know I am becoming a more growth mindset oriented thinker because my behavior is reflecting it.
For instance, I stopped obsessing over analytics on my site. I told myself a few weeks ago that I was no longer going to focus on the technical marketing elements of my brand but rather I was going to approach each day by focusing on the process of “being a better writer.”
So I write each day. That’s my focus. I believe that with practice, I can become a better writer. I believe that although I was born with a pre determined ability for writing, I can still improve through practice and dedication.
So I removed all the analytics, the daily keyword reports and the open rates of my daily emails. Moving forward, I am only focusing on being a better writer. As a bi product of focusing on the process, my brand will grow.
That is growth mindset.
What About You?
I know that you struggle with this as well.
It’s evolutionary for us to label ourselves and to self impose certain identifiers within our personalities. So everyone, regardless of how self aware you are, will fall into a fixed mindset way of thinking.
But what is it that you think you can change? What are the specifics in your own personality that you want to improve on? How will adopting a growth mindset let you move forward?
Let me know in the comments section.