Chapter 4: Fixed Mindset
In this chapter, two mindsets are compared. The first is the fixed mindset and the second, growth mindset.
People with fixed mindsets assume a fixed level of ability; fixed talent and success. The lives of these people are constrained by preconceived boundaries and as a consequence, they seldom try very hard, they give up early and do not expand their expertise.
The person with a growth mindset on the other hand has a desire and belief that they can stretch themselves beyond the present circumstances. They do not give up easily, they are optimistic and focus on improvement. They are always looking at ways to expand their skills, talents and abilities; and they generally get there.
The first element of support is a large body of work showing that many of the world’s great minds (some are legitimately referred to as geniuses) never started out as such; it was their capacity for practice, hard work, dedication to the task at hand that developed from an early age. Thomas Edison, Mozart, and 118 other “super performers” as 10 and 11 year olds would not be identified as such. What set them apart was the confidence to believe that they could learn. The first lesson is therefore – winners forget they are in a race – they just love to run.
The next lesson is that growth mindsets accept failure as an indicator of progress, yielding valuable lessons. Hard work, the stuff of personal challenge, whether it is thinking, action or relationships is counter intuitive to the fixed mindset. That person would see failure as a public acknowledgement of the limits that exist and the foolishness of the pursuit. Consequently they will not try and hence could not be seen to fail. Reference is provided by stories about Jack Welch and Michael Bloomberg, who experienced significant early failures, listened to the learning outcomes and went on to achieve generally accepted “dominance” in their respective fields.
Can we change from a fixed to a growth mindset? Yes! Whilst it is so much easier to coast along once a certain level of competency is achieved; once you become excited about the power of continuous learning, in possession of the capacity to cope with a bit more pressure, to dive a little bit deeper and push closer to the edge and more often to go past your personal “cliff-edge” of competence then you are demonstrating a growth mindset. Leaders who are themselves growth mindset people, in turn encourage failure, experimentation and uplift rather than demean, belittle and dominate.
The simple and self-evident truth to the believers – is that you can learn. The “motivation” within this motivational chapter is in the simple answer the reader seeks. People achieve because of hard work and people fail because of the absence of hard work – it is that easy (and that hard).
1 – Taken from the book “Why People Fail – the sixteen obstacles to success and how to overcome them” – Siimon Reynolds
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