In Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, she declared that there are two different types of mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. She mentioned that everyone has a mindset that is a combination of the two mindsets, and if you want a better odd of having success in your life, you should make yourself lean towards the growth mindset as much as possible. While I was reading the book, I was a little surprise that I actually tilts towards the fixed mindset. I have always consciously and subconsciously put myself in situations where I could be the smartest person in the room. It is a very powerful book to me and here are the lessons I have received from the book that have changed me.
Know Whether You Have a Fixed Mindset or a Growth Mindset
Everyone has a mindset that is inbetween the two different mindsets. But very often, you either tilt towards one way or the other. A person that has a fixed mindset is someone who doesn’t want to learn new things, or doesn’t realize that he or she is wrong. He or she would be the one that uses everything to defend his or her own idea. On the other side, a growth-mindset person is someone who wants to find ways to improve or who doesn’t build his or her pride around being right. Knowing whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset is the first step of improving.
A Fixed Mindset Person Can Only Reach As Far As Your Talent Takes You
Although whether having a fixed mindset usually doesn’t have much to do with whether you are smart or not, very often, you would find that many smart people have fixed mindsets and you can clearly see that they don’t recognize it. It is true that some people are just smarter naturally, but they will eventually reach a point where their talent is just not enough to take them to the next level. Their paths to success actually slow down or even stop as their mindsets are so fixed that they think what they have always been doing is the right way. If you challenge them, they are smart enough to put together the best arguments to defend their ideas. That’s why being naturally smart while having a fixed mindset is probably the most toxic combination you could have.
A Growth Mindset Makes The Sky Your Limit
On the other hand, if you have a growth mindset, every time you makes a mistake, you reflect on it and do a better job next time. One small improvement after another is the path to major improvements and eventually to success. This point is very similar to the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen and the book author Ryan Holiday’s concept of The Obstacle is The Way. The idea is very basic but you will need to have the commitment to first, admit that you have made a mistake and second, learn to do it better next time.
Every Failure and Success is an Opportunity to Learn
The main idea behind the growth mindset is to treat every failure and success as an opportunity to learn. When you win, learn how to win the same way the next game, or even better, how to win it even more and better the next game. When you fail, think about what you can do differently to give yourself a better odd to win next time. Doing that is simple but not easy, which makes a lot of sense as the path to success has never been an easy one.
Developing a Growth Mindset: Be Curious
I am not completely sure whether it is a direct idea from the book or something that I have picked up between the lines. To develop a growth mindset, you should stay curious. Don’t be curious about who’s right though. Be curious about what the truth is. If you have failed your business, instead of blaming a bad economic environment or a toxic client, be curious about what you could have done differently to achieve a better result and apply that knowledge to your next attempt.
Developing a Growth Mindset: Add a “Yet” after “I Can’t Do It”
Nobody knows everything. When you encounter an obstacle, instead of saying you can’t do it, say you can’t do it yet. Having said that, you don’t necessarily need to actually learn how to do it. You can be your own judge on whether learning “it” can move yourself towards your goal.
Developing a Growth Mindset: Have Self Awareness
Like Ryan Holiday suggested in his book The Obstacle is The Way, there is a split second between seeing something and reacting to it. Let’s say that you are in a meeting with your co-workers. There is a junior staff that challenges your idea. May be your reaction to it is to use your brilliance or even your status and reputation to defend your idea. Let’s just for the sake of argument say that your idea is indeed a silly one and you kind of know it. If you are able to catch yourself before depending your point and say to yourself “here you are, the fixed mindset part of me”, then you win a battle against the fixed mindset you. Over time, you will get better and better with catching yourself and you will naturally become a more growth mindset person.
Praise Your Children When They Try Hard, Not When They Get Good Results
The best way to help children develop a growth mindset is to praise them when they try hard, especially when that means they work hard on improving when they have temporary failures. Of course, it is almost impossible not to praise children when they succeed at something. But we can say things like “I am proud to see you try hard and learn through mistakes to reach such good result” instead of “you are so smart, I am proud of you”.
If there is one single idea that I can carry with me from this book, it is as simple as to just understand that this is such a thing called the growth mindset. As soon as you know it, you will start catching your fixed mindset moments and you will be able to improve yourself.