How often do you develop your growth mindset?

Today is March 6 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you develop your growth mindset?” Navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well requires one to understand if they have a growth or fixed mindset. While it is certainly possible to navigate the chaos and live well with a fixed mindset, many people who translate one dream after another into reality use a growth mindset. One illustration of a growth mindset comes from the words of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw who wrote “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I do not believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances that they want, and if they cannot find them, make them.” Those with a growth mindset understand they have the opportunity, at any moment, to change their circumstances by learning a new skill, improving their habits, or increasing their knowledge. In short, there is no limit to their growth.


While Shaw has a point, it might be more exact to say that ‘the people who get on in this world’ have a growth mindset. In her 2006 publication Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck concluded that people have either "fixed" or "growth" mindsets. Some people who navigate the chaos believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a "fixed" theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a "growth" or an "incremental" theory of intelligence (growth mindset).


Dweck's definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview where she said “students with a fixed mindset believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. Students with a growth mindset, however, understand their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”


Dweck’s research into growth and fixed mindsets has implications for parenting. As she advised "If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don't have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence." On the other hand, Dweck warns of the dangers of praising intelligence as it puts children in a fixed mindset, and they will not want to be challenged because they will not want to look stupid or make a mistake. She notes, "Praising children's intelligence harms motivation and it harms performance."


To determine your mindset, select A or B in the following 24 statements:


A: I always want to look smart or talented. B: I want to learn something new.

A: I never want to fail. B: I am comfortable with failure.

A: I fear challenges. B: I embrace challenges.

A: I give up easily. B: I persist.

A: I blame others. B: I take responsibility.

A: Giving up is the only option. B: There must be another way,

A: It is good enough. B: Is this really my best work?

A: This is too hard. B: This may take some time and effort

A: I made a mistake. B: Mistakes help me learn

A: I just cannot do this B: I am going to train my brain

A: I will never be that smart B: I will learn how to do this

A: Plan A did not work. B: There is always a Plan B, or C.


If you selected B statements 9 or more times you have a growth mindset. If you answered B statements 6-8 time you have a mixed mindset. If you selected B statements 5 or fewer times you have a fixed mindset. Remember, one mindset is not better than another. Knowing your mindset will, however, help you increase your self-awareness as you continue to navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well.