Oct 5, 2009

Change Your Mind

In “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, renowned Stanford psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck outlines how an individual’s mindset can affect one’s actions, motivation, and performance. Last week, we delved into the meaning behind Dr. Dweck’s dueling concepts of the “Fixed” and “Growth” mindsets and the various implications that adopters of either could expect. This week, we’ll examine a few ways that an individual can change their outlook, and thus garner the benefits of a “Growth Mindset”.

Undoubtedly, the first step is recognition of what it means to have a “Growth” and “Fixed Mindset”. However, understanding how a “Fixed Mindset” will react to a difficult situation or obstacle is easier than actually applying the knowledge to one’s own thought process. To do that requires a step away from one’s own inner mental ticker to gain an outsider’s perspective. Try not to jump to any conclusions about what you can and cannot do. Instead, realize that any mental gymnastics you may undertake towards finding a solution, even if you don’t succeed, will result in great personal gains. Don’t always rely on innate skills- learning from your mistakes can be more useful than getting something perfectly on the first attempt.

In an interview on “Countdown to College” radio with Beth Pickett, Dr. Dweck describes two types of athletes. The first type has an abundance of natural talent, while the second must practice hard to gain the same level of ability. While the first group typically fizzles out when they run out of talent, the second group goes on to achieve even greater levels of ability. This is because the first group was in a “Fixed Mindset”, and would give up once they had reached the limits of their natural abilities. The second type had a “Growth Mindset”, and thanks to a willingness to learn and adapt to the challenges that they faced, could continue the development of their ability until they had surpassed those with an abundance of natural talent.

As this example demonstrates, the truly beneficial part of solving a problem is the process by which the individual goes about finding the solution. While some intelligence and ability can come naturally, the development of these traits is what really matters. Someone isn’t “stupid” if they fail. To achieve the loftier ambitions of life, don’t be afraid of a little hard work- in the end, it will help you more than you might realize.

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