Blog 2 of 6 – Step 1: What is your mindset?
Ragini Bilolikar, Ph.D. PMP
Higher Education Executive
In the first post of our six-blog series, “Types of Mindset and Their Characteristics”, I gave you a basic definition of fixed and growth mindsets. I also recommended two steps to help you develop an acuity of mindsets:
1. Buy and read a copy of Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success; and
2. Notice the mindset of those around you. Observe their thinking patterns, their beliefs, their choice of words to communicate their thoughts. If you did this exercise, you may have started to notice mindset characteristics that you’ve missed before or accepted as regular thought patterns. This should have helped you become more aware of people’s mindsets and your own thought patterns.
In this blog, we will dive further into personal mindsets and how they impact your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. The next blog will focus on organizations and the impact mindsets have on their culture, success, or failure.
Step 1: Why is it important to know and learn about your mindset?
Over 20 years, Dr. Carol Dweck’s research has shown that:
The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. (pg. 6)
What is your type of mindset? What are your thoughts and beliefs on various aspects of life?
Let’s begin by reflecting on the questions below to decipher your current mindset:
- Are human qualities set in stone or can they be cultivated?
- Is your personality or intelligence a fixed deep-seated trait or something you can develop?
The thoughts of both mindsets—Fixed and Growth—are as follows:
- Human qualities are set in stone. You’re either smart or you’re not. Failing means you’re not smart.
- If you arrange successes and avoid failures at all costs, you stay smart. (According to Dr. Dweck, struggles, mistakes, and perseverance don’t fit in a fixed mindset.)
- Human qualities like intellectual skills can be cultivated through effort; therefore, people can become smarter.
- Failure is not discouraging or even seen as failing; it’s simply learning through setbacks.
The beliefs of Fixed and Growth mindsets are as follows:
According to Dr. Dweck, we receive fixed mindset training from an early age.
- Your qualities are carved in stone. This creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.
- If you have a certain personality and moral character, you’d better prove you have a healthy dose of intelligence.
- Many of us are consumed with the goal of proving ourselves in our careers, and every situation calls for approval of our intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated through such questions as:
- Will I succeed or fail?
- Will I look smart or dumb?
- Will I be accepted or rejected?
- Will I feel like a winner or a loser?
- Intelligence, personality, and character are not simply a hand you’ve been dealt and have to live with, like “trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you are secretly worried it’s a pair of tens” (pg. 7).
- Instead, the hand you’ve been dealt is a starting point for development. You’re confident your basic qualities can be cultivated through effort.
- While people may differ in many ways, when it comes to initial talents, aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
- Not everyone with proper motivation and education can be Einstein or Tesla, but a person’s true potential is unknown and unknowable. It’s impossible to predict what can be accomplished through years of passion, toil, and training.
Next Step Challenge
Before you move on to the next blog, do the following tasks:
a. Analyze your mindset based on your current thinking and beliefs according to the above questions.
b. Recollect at least three impactful experiences in your life and how you addressed them. What were your thoughts and beliefs? In which mindset would you categorize them?
c. Apply fixed and growth mindset thinking and beliefs to the three situations you addressed in the previous task. Determine the impact of fixed and growth mindset approaches on the outcomes of those situations. Based on your analysis of the implications, were the method and solution you applied appropriate? Why or why not?