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Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

On a very basic level, it is believed that we have 2 different mindsets in play in human life. We either have a growth or fixed mindset and that controls everything we do, from the way we think to the way we act. In essence our personalities and if we are to be successful in life. Of course, many assumptions are made about both. There is a lot of truth in these assumptions but they are not true entirely and it is possible to have both mindsets for when they are needed.

A fixed mindset will assume that our character, intelligence and creativity are fixed, in the sense that they have limitations and can not be changed or improved immensely. Because of this, a fixed mindset will assume that success will be limited because it can not move beyond what it believes it is. Even someone with great intelligence or talent will still believe that their success will have a ceiling even if they have already achieved more than most. Another way to look at a fixed mindset is to call it a survival mindset. Because of the limitations, a fixed mindset believes that it will have to chase success will mean always operating at its maximum. Failures hit hard and feel very personal. There is a yo-yo effect with emotions and failure will always be avoided at any cost even if that ultimately leads to burnout.

A growth mindset positively thrives on challenges. failure is not seen as a failure of intelligence or capabilities but as part of the process for growth and stretching the boundaries of knowledge. Failure is just showing a growth mindset where it needs to learn and improve.

These 2 differing mindsets are learned from an early age and have a significant impact on personal and professional lives which ultimately leads to the capacity for happiness.

If you truly believe that intelligence and personality can be changed and developed it changes the way you live your life. You choose to be the person you want to be and live the life you want. You accomplish the things you value and set out to do.

A fixed mindset will have you believe that you have a limited quantity of traits and if you want to maximise those then you need to make sure that you have maintained a high operating level of them. This leads to constantly proving to yourself and others that you have what it takes which in turn leads to validation and approval. It creates a black and white view of the world. Questions such as ‘will I succeed or fail? Will I be accepted or rejected by others? Will people think I am a winner or loser?’.

We have to remember that through training, practice, experience and belief that we can change.

When we take a look at the successful people in this world, we can see that they are just human like you and me. Does that mean that we can achieve the same things? Fundamentally yes. A growth mindset means that the belief is that we all have unlimited potential. There is no way of knowing how much potential we all have inside of us.

What makes a growth mindset so powerful is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. The solid conviction that human traits such as intelligence can be improved through sheer hard work and dedication.

People with a growth mindset reframe failure as learning experiences because they don’t see themselves ever failing. It is more of a stumbling block that is there to teach new things. A growth mindset with show people up as being more authentic as they don’t feel the need to hide their inefficiencies. They don’t look for validation or assurance.

Two of the things that both mindsets have in common are effort and challenges. Both mindsets carry these in them and that is why is it hard to differentiate between them sometimes, or we can convince ourselves we have a growth mindset when in fact it is more fixed.

A simple way is when you are faced with a challenge ask yourself did I seek this out? If so why did I? To prove something to someone?

A fixed mindset will seek out those new challenges to continually seek approval. A pure growth mindset will just focus on development. The challenges come as a consequence of that continued development. Knowing the difference is a great indicator of which mindset someone has.

When it comes to effort a fixed mindset will believe that if you have to put effort into something to become successful at it then you aren’t intelligent enough in the first place to do it. A growth mindset will tell you that it is the effort that will make you successful.

Feedback is also different between a fixed and growth mindset. A fixed mindset only wants to hear what has gone wrong in the present. How they can put it right. It is only interested in how it reflects on present abilities and will tune out to hearing how to improve in the future. A growth mindset will seek out that information that can help expand existing knowledge and capabilities regardless of if the feedback was positive or negative. The priority for a growth mindset isn’t success or failure but for learning.

The key difference between the two mindsets can be down to how they view success. A growth mindset will state, personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best. A fixed mindset will state ‘success is about establishing superiority. Being somebody better than other people.

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