Of Two Mindsets. . .
Why is it that some people seem to shine in any sphere in which they choose to exert themselves, and others cannot manage even a glimmer despite obvious talent? Research shows that it’s the way that they think about their ability that really counts.
There are two ways to view efforts and outcomes in this life:
- Ability it is fixed or ingrained – in other words, we are born with a certain level of ability and we cannot change that. This is called a fixed mindset.
- We can develop our ability through hard work and effort. This is called a growth mindset.
These two different beliefs lead to different behavior, and also to different results. For example, students with a growth mindset were shown to increase their grades over time. Those who believed that their intelligence was ingrained did not; in fact, their grades got worse. Having a growth mindset (the belief that you are in control of your own ability, and can learn and improve) is the key to success. Yes, hard work, effort, and persistence are all important, but not as important as having that underlying belief that you are in control of your own destiny.
People with these two mindsets actually think differently and also react to information differently.
In particular, they respond differently to information about performance.
- In people with a fixed mindset, the brain is most active when they are being given information about how well they have done, for example, test results or grades.
- In people with a growth mindset, the brain is most active when they are being told what they could do to improve.
It’s a very different approach: from ‘How did I do?’ to ‘What can I do better next time?’ One is about how they are perceived, and one is about how they can learn. You can see which one is likely to lead to better results in future.
The good news is that you can change your mindset. Neuroscience shows that our brains continue to develop and change even as adults. Old dogs really can learn new tricks. The brain is actually quite like plastic, and can be reshaped over time, forming new neural pathways. This has led neuroscientists to call this tendency neuroplasticity. These neural pathways are developed by doing or thinking particular things. The things that we do or say more often become hard-wired into our brains as habits. These form defined ‘routes’ in our brain, which become easier to use. But you can still change them. The first step is to realize that you need to, then to train your brain in the new skill.
There are three key things that you can do to develop a growth mindset:
You need to recognize that a growth mindset is not just good, but is also supported by science. In other words, you need to be committed to developing a growth mindset.
You can learn and teach others about how to develop and improve their abilities through adopting a growth mindset. This will help you to take control of your life, which is hugely empowering. Research shows that people who feel in control tend to perform better. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Listen out for your fixed mindset voice. When you hear that little critical voice in your head telling you that you can’t do something, reply with a growth mindset approach and tell it that you can learn.
Mindsets are not just important for learning new skills. They can affect the way that we think about everything. For example, a growth mindset can help you recover from illness because you believe that you can do something about the illness. They can help you achieve in sport, at work and can also help you grow and develop in relationships.
Cultivating a growth mindset could be the single most important thing you ever do to help you achieve success.
Peace and Love, Jim