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Fix Mindset vs. Growth Mindset


The first, most vital ingredient for consistent personal growth and development is a growth mindset. Let’s think about that a little more. What is a growth mindset?


A growth mindset is a belief that you can develop your skills and talents through challenging work, the right strategies, and guidance from others. The term was coined by American psychologist Professor Carol Dweck in her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Her work explored how an individual’s underlying belief about their intelligence and ability to learn could impact their performance. 


Her studies show that those who believe they can develop their talents tend to achieve more than those who feel their abilities are innate and fixed. Those with a growth mindset see opportunities instead of obstacles, choosing to challenge themselves to learn more rather than sticking in their comfort zone. 


Growth mindset is further defined by Professor Dweck: “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in in many directions – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” 


A growth mindset is conducive to success because it enables you to step out of your comfort zone, learn from your mistakes, and remain resilient in the face of setbacks. Cultivating a growth mindset takes intention, but over time you’ll reap the benefits of greater motivation, achievement, and joy. Her book is a great resource for anyone serious about growing this year. 


Have you discovered that business is getting easier AND more complicated? We have access to more information, seemingly unlimited resources, and opportunities to succeed. Yet there are more choices and more competition. It’s tougher to focus and prioritize getting the work done. The world is simply getting more complex, and we have to find a way to deal with it.


Fortunately, our brains are wired for growth and renewal. It’s fact that our brain cells die and regenerate every day. Our minds add new knowledge, imagine new possibilities, and make fresh connections all the time. This is impressive because change is the order of the day.


New business models (think Uber, Zoom, online only business) are popping up and cannibalizing traditional enterprises. Even companies that make submarines, sell insurance, make flavors and fragrances, or operate on the Internet are having to transform their businesses to stay competitive. Ford and GM are now technology companies. You can’t deny or hide from it.


So how can you survive and thrive in this increasingly complex world? Not surprising, the answer starts inside yourself. Carol Dweck started the conversation in her groundbreaking book, Mindset. You must deliberately, intentionally think with a broader mind and prefer action to inaction. You must become comfortable with ambiguity, seek out uncertain situations to learn new things, and choose with confidence that they will succeed. You have to hold both pragmatism and idealism in your hands. Begin to view life as a journey of experimentation and continuous learning.


Listen to Dweck. She tells us and we see that for fixed mindset people, life is a test. The goal is to pass it without looking foolish or stupid. They feel they are only as good as their most recent performance, so they feel compelled to prove themselves over and over. Because they are afraid of exposing their deficiencies, they see criticism and setbacks as indications of their basic flaws. Their primary goal is to avoid making mistakes. To accomplish this, they shy away from new experiences, and stick to things they know and can do well. Inevitably, this narrows their horizons and shuts down their learning and growth.


The truth is, you and I are neither fixed nor free in every area all the time. We move back and forth between having fixed and growth mindsets all the time depending on the situation. But accepting that being stuck or free really matters to your success, and choosing freedom is liberating.


Here are three steps for developing a stronger growth mindset: (from healthy companies) Growth starts with you – your beliefs and behaviors. 


The first step is self-awareness. What kinds of thoughts am I having right now (fixed or growth) and what kinds of thoughts do I need to be having to navigate the complexity around me?

The second step is investigation. Ask yourself, “Why am I having these thoughts?” Identify the negative stories you’ve been telling yourself, to see patterns in your past that may have prevented you from taking risks, and step outside your current assumptions and mental models for fresh ideas.


Detachment is the third step. Moving from a fixed to a growth mindset is easier when you don’t become obsessed with the outcome. Be more committed to the journey than the outcome, live in the present, be courageous and try new things, and challenge yourself to think and act differently. By taking your ego out of the pursuit of growth, you build confidence and can enjoy the ride.


Let’s go confidently into 2024!

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