Dr. Carol S. Dweck is a leading researcher in the field of motivation. In her book “Mindset”, Dweck explains her research and shares her finding that the key to learning and success is closely linked to the degree we believe our intelligence and talents can change and grow.
According to Dweck, your belief as to whether or not you can succeed, is a huge predictor of if you will or not. Why not raise the bar on your thinking, and see what happens?
Studies show kids who are praised for their effort rather than their brains out perform the “smart” kids on a variety of tasks in both short and long term settings.
Reinforcing a “can do” attitude is much more beneficial than praising kids for how smart they are. Reinforcing a can do attitude in yourself, can help you create the life you really want.
A lack of belief in our efforts can follow us into adulthood and leave us doubting ourselves and our abilities, which can derail our motivation and limit our outlook and our lives. To determine how your mind is currently set, take Dr. Dweck’s 16 question survey, here.
As you approach a challenge, that voice might say to you “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.” “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure” “People will laugh at you for thinking you had talent.” “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”
As you hit a setback, the voice might say, “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.” “You see, I told you it was a risk. Now you’ve gone and shown the world how limited you are.” “ It’s not too late to back out, make excuses, and try to regain your dignity.”
As you face criticism, you might hear yourself say, “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.” You might feel yourself getting angry at the person who is giving you feedback. “Who do they think they are? I’ll put them in their place.” The other person might be giving you specific, constructive feedback, but you might be hearing them say “I’m really disappointed in you. I thought you were capable but now I see you’re not.”
How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is your choice. You can interpret them in a fixed mindset as signs that your fixed talents or abilities are lacking. Or you can interpret them in a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.
So as you face challenges, setbacks, and criticism, listen to the fixed mindset voice and…
As you approach a challenge:
THE FIXED-MINDSET says “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”
THE GROWTH-MINDSET answers, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.”
FIXED MINDSET: “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure”
GROWTH MINDSET: “Most successful people had failures along the way.”
FIXED MINDSET: “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t try, I automatically fail. Where’s the dignity in that?”
As you hit a setback:
FIXED MINDSET: “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “That is so wrong. Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.
As you face criticism:
FIXED MINDSET: “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is– and learn whatever I can.”
Over time, which voice you heed becomes pretty much your choice. Whether you
- take on the challenge wholeheartedly,
- learn from your setbacks and try again
- hear the criticism and act on it is now in your hands.
Practice hearing both voices, and practice acting on the growth mindset. See how you can make it work for you.
To hear Dr. Dweck, check out her TED Talk.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Changing your mind can really change your life!
You can do it!
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