Carol Dweck: "The Growth Mindset" Concept Review

Dec 28, 2015 -

Carol S. Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She graduated from Barnard College in 1967 and earned a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1972. She is known for her research in social and developmental psychology.

Dweck recently published the Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and has since sold over a million copies. In the book she discusses the idea of the mindset being a contributing factor in fulfilling one's potential in parenting, business, school, and relationships.

Why do some people wilt in the face of danger, while others who are no more talented thrive in challenges? How are people motivated to learn? These are some of the many questions that Dweck answers in her book.

In the Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck argues that there are two mindsets of which are the "Fixed" and "Growth" mindsets. Generally speaking, those who believe talents and abilities can be developed are in the growth mindset, versus those who believe talent is natural born are in the fixed.

However, you can have a fixed mindset in one area and a growth mindset in another. For example, suppose you are great with Microsoft excel and are willing to take on any new challenges associated with it. When you see someone else who is better, instead of feeling jealous, you want them to teach you their skills. That is an example of a growth mindset. On the other hand, suppose you are asked to create a flowchart of your business' processes using Microsoft Visio. You are not particular great with it and are not willing to learn to become better using it. That is an example of a fixed mindset in a different area.

Add the word "yet" to your fixed mindset statement. If you say that you are not "yet" at a certain level, that implies that you can develop and get better. For example, "I am still not able to generate enough passive income to support myself, yet".

When you tell someone he or she is smart and what he or she has done seems effortless, you are in fact communicating another subtle message to the recipient. He or she will start to believe that if it takes effort then he or she won't look smart. Thereby, they start to focus only on what they are good at and instead of challenging themselves and developing their intelligence. Having a growth mindset will allow you to take on challenges and more importantly stick with them.

In growth mindset companies, management values creativity, innovation, and teamwork. Employees in such companies believe that they could develop their skills and thereby felt empowered and more committed to the organization. On the contrary, fixed mindset companies looked to hire talent, but did not believe that those talented individuals they hired had potential to rise and join management. Employees in those companies felt that they had one foot out the door and would leave at anytime if another company offered to pay them more.

How do you ensure that you think in a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset? 

Being in a growth mindset is not just being open minded, it is developing oneself through a life long journey taking on challenges and learning from them. Focus on the process, show interest, ask questions, and most importantly stick with it. When faced with something safe versus a challenge, choose the challenge. When you hit a challenge, ask yourself how can you learn from this and what can you do better the next time. A growth mindset is not a destination, it is a process and a journey.

When is a fixed mindset better than a growth mindset? 

Accepting your sexual orientation and aging. These are two things that you can not change and is arguably biological (one more than the other). Thinking and believing you will get younger as time passes, is not realistic and quite frankly not possible at this point.

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