Mindset | Carol Dweck

Published: 2016

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Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck’s bridges the fields of developmental psychology, social psychology and personality psychology and examines self-perceptions (or ways of thinking) that people use to structure the self and guide their behavior. Dweck believes that man’s attitude is self-chosen. It is possible to change our setting if we have slipped into the wrong track. However, it is easy to fall back into bad habits.

FIXED & GROWTH MINDSET. Whether it happens consciously or subconsciously, our most basic beliefs affect what we want and whether we succeed in achieving it. Dweck divides it into two different types of mindset, “fixed” and “growth”. These mindsets affect our worldview and our belief in ourselves.

FIXED MINDSET – A RIGID WORLDVIEW. With a fixed mindset, we believe that things are carved in stone. He who is born intelligent remains intelligent. He who has a favorable appearance will always have it and he who is a good communicator will always be that. With this mindset, it is not uncommon to turn to excuses if something is not going well. There is also a tendency to see the world hierarchically – he is better than him, she is better than him.

GROWTH MINDSET – ALL CAN CHANGE. With a growth mindset, we believe that our qualities can decrease and increase over time. We can influence how smart we are, how rich we become and how good relationships we have. Dweck believes that there are many people who have changed the world even though at a young age they were not considered to have any special talent (for example Charles Darwin). With a growth mindset, a willingness to work hard and an ability to turn adversity into something good that early “fate” can change.

THE 10 000 HOUR RULE. People with a growth mindset must not have a lot of self-confidence to succeed – they just need to decide what they want to be good at and then focus on the process. There are few, if any, truly skilled person who have not put in tens of thousands of hours in their field. This applies to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as well as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Skill takes practice.

KIDS GROW, ADULTS DEFEND. Dweck believes that all young children want to develop and explore the world. But at some point in childhood, most people slip into a fixed mindset. We are afraid of failure and dare not take on new challenges. We get an image that we do not want to put at risk. For example, someone who has been confirmed to be intelligent may be afraid to take a difficult test and fail. NASA knows it can be incomplete to rely solely on test results or CVs, and is therefore looking for astronauts who have had adversity that they have been able to get around. They reason like the American basketball coach John Wooden: “You are not failing until you start to blame”.

“The mental toughness and the art are a lot stronger than some of the physical advantages you might have” – Michael Jordan

DO NOT CATEGORIZE. Statistically, the risk of making children a liar increases if you only praise them for their intelligence. Expectations are created that the kids then try to live up to and therefore go a long way to maintain. As a parent, you should rather praise the process and the effort over the results, talent or intelligence.

REACH AND STAY ON TOP. According to Dweck, people with both fixed and growth mindsets can get far in working life. However, it is harder to stay on top with a fixed mindset. The high position requires continuous development but the person with a fixed mindset feels that the game is already solved. Leaders with fixed mindsets also tend to want to be leaders because they want power and status. They often blame problems on others or external factors that are haunting at the moment.

“My genius not only defines and validates me. It defines and validates the company. It is what creates value. My genius is profit” – Jeff Skilling, Enron

WHY, WHY, WHY. A business leader with a growth mindset constantly asks himself the question “why?” and is not afraid of uncomfortable answers. The most successful leaders have usually never strived to become leaders either. They only became so because they climbed to the top in their area.

 “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”

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