Moving From a Fixed to Growth Mindset


I have mixed feelings about concluding my series based on the amazing book Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. On one hand, I’m excited to give a few tips on how you can start transforming the way you think and live by moving into a growth mindset. On the other, however, I get so fired up about this subject that I’m a little sad to know I’ll have to start writing about another topic! However, a growth mindset reaction to my sadness would be excitement over the chance to learn and write about something new…and that’s what we’re all trying to achieve, right? So let’s move on with this thought in mind!

If you’ve not yet read my previous two posts Mindset (Five Ways to Identify You’re Stuck in a Fixed Mindset and How Those in the Growth Mindset Handle Challenges), I highly recommend you do so. Not because they are spectacular pieces of literature (which they are, of course!), but because it will help you understand the information presented in our third and final article.

As a quick recap, Ms. Dweck believes (as do I) that there are two ‘mindsets’ that are possible to have and that most people generally display one of the mindsets as their dominant way of thinking. If you have a ‘fixed’ mindset, you believe that traits and talents are innate, that expending a lot of effort learning something means you don’t have enough talent to do it easily and that most people (including themselves) don’t really have the ability to change a whole lot.

Doesn’t sound so fun, right? This mindset leads to lack of effort, bitterness and intolerance, but you’d be amazed how many of us are operating under the fixed mindset assumptions. Even those people who are upbeat, bright and fun to be around may be sabotaging themselves and others by their erroneous beliefs.

Now let’s look at the brighter side: the growth mindset is all about effort. Those who have the growth mindset believe that while we’re born with some innate abilities and intelligence, we are able to pretty much learn or do anything we want if we’re willing to put in the effort. They see challenges as opportunities to grow and prize hard work over talent. These are the people who always seem to be attacking new projects and barely batting an eye when all their plans fall down around their ears. For them, it’s just another chance to learn and start over again!

If you haven’t yet figured out which mindset is the most beneficial one to have, I highly encourage you to read Ms. Dweck’s book. For the rest of you who realize that a growth mindset is the key to being happy and successful, these next few tips are for you!

If you’re like me (and like Ms. Dweck herself), learning about the two different mindsets can be a bit much to handle if you’re suddenly struck with the realization that you’ve been thinking about things wrong your entire life. However, it’s also liberating once you start connecting the dots. You start to see why you react to events the way you do and all the little ways you’ve been holding yourself back. Of course, once you see this, the next question is, “How do I start to change?”

Mindset has a lot of great advice on how to start seeing things (and acting from) the sunny side of the road. Here are the basic steps that will help you get there:

Watch your thoughts Most of us are so used to the thoughts that are in our heads that we rarely pay a whole lot of attention to them. The next time you face a challenge, really listen to what you’re telling yourself. Are you hearing, “This is too hard, I’ll never be good at it” or “She makes it look so easy, she must have been born with talent” or similar thoughts? Identifying the ‘fixed’ self-talk is the first step to changing it.

Listen to your words How do you take compliments? How do you compliment others? When someone tells you you’ve done a great job on a project, do you say, “Thanks, those things have always come easy to me.” When someone else excels, do you comment on their talent or on their hard work? If you find yourself always focused on ability instead of effort, you know where the changes need to start.

Talk back to yourself When you start hearing ‘fixed’ thoughts or words, talk back to yourself. Acknowledge what you’ve said, then reframe it in a ‘growth context’. Change “This is too hard” to “The more I work at it, the better I will be”. Don’t tell your child how good of an artist he is, comment on how much work you know he put into his new piece of artwork.

Realize there are two ways to see everything Change is all about realizing you have a choice. You can react to any situation from a ‘fixed’ or a ‘growth’ mindset. Once you know what those two choices look like and where they will lead, you can make decisions that start leading to a very powerful change.

Choose Choosing the ‘growth’ way to see events, words and challenges more often than you choose the ‘fixed’ mindset is the perfect place to start. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall into some old ‘fixed’ thought patterns. Simply start choosing the ‘growth’ path more and more, and you’ll be amazed how your life begins to transform.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed presenting ideas from Mindset this past few weeks, and I hope you’ve learned something along the way! Good luck on your journey to a growth mindset and I look forward to tackling the challenge of finding the next great topic about which to blog!

Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit www.TrishCody.com.

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