Do you believe that artistic ability is a gift? That you are born with it, and while you can nurture it and take lessons, essentially you either have it or you don’t. What about the ability to sing? What about inherent sports ability – do you believe that high-performing athletes, like the Michael Jordans of the world, are just simply talented at what they do? If so, then you may be holding a fixed mindset, and that can be detrimental to your own ability to grow and flourish.
Carol Dweck has made a research and academic career out of researching how people hold beliefs about ability, and she has coined two phrases to explain these two patterns: fixed mindset and growth mindset.
The fixed mindset believes that intelligence and ability are inherent – that you are born with them and there’s not much you can do to change that. Leaders are born, not made. Intelligent children will naturally rise to the top.
The growth mindset believes otherwise – yes, there are certain talents that may be more natural to people, but through hard work, effort and attention, you can grow and learn and change your artistic ability, your athletic prowess, and your intelligence.
What are the ramifications of these two mindsets? Individuals with a fixed mindset learn to fear failure. Why? Because they see every situation as a test of their inherent abilities, and failure means that they just aren’t good enough – and it’s a hopeless situation because they can’t change (or so they believe). This means that individuals with a fixed mindset shy away from challenge and new situations – they don’t like to be out of their comfort zone. And if they do fail or perform below expectations, they may cheat and lie and blame others, rather than confront their own mindset or beliefs.
However, individuals with a growth mindset embrace new opportunities – they see every new situation as ripe for learning, and failure just means that they are on the learning curve and need to work harder, learn more, try something different. Individuals with a growth mindset love challenge, and they have stronger work ethics and end up achieving more and aiming higher. Those athletes, artists and singers that seem to have natural talent? Often, it’s the result of years of hard work, training and dedication. That’s the real growth mindset at play.
What is the mindset that you tend towards? When you fail, do you see it as an opportunity for learning, or do you interpret it as a fixed limitation of your natural abilities? Embrace failure and welcome feedback – that’s how we grow and learn. In the end, you’ll achieve more for it.
Lisa Sansom is the Founder of LVS Consulting. A certified coach and positive psychology practitioner, Lisa helps businesses, teams and individuals be at their best. For more information, please visit LVS Consulting or email Lisa directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.