Today is March 6 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “do you have a growth or fixed mindset?” The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once observed, “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 can’t find them, make them.”
How often do you find yourself blaming their circumstances? How often do you create the circumstances that you so desire? 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. Those with a fixed mindset believe that “they are the way they are.” This mindset believes that one’s level of athleticism and mathematical capacities are fixed and have little room for improvement. Believing they are born with a certain amount of talent, fixed mindset individuals seldom challenge their abilities due to the possibility of failure. Fixed mindset individuals see improvement as a zero-sum game where there is a chance of failure.
Those with a growth mindset, however, believe that they can improve by exercising their brain through hard work and practicing skills like athleticism. Growth mindset individuals have a desire to improve and view such development, even with its risk of failure, as a positive-sum game. This dedication to improvement drives growth mindset individuals forward despite great odds.
The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. This is a serious, practical book. Dweck's overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome. Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? How do you know?