If you have been avoiding tasks before they even start from fear of failure understanding the growth mindset will help you.
We will talk about the fixed mindset and growth mindset and how you can work towards developing a growth mindset.
First, we have to understand what a fixed mindset and growth mindset mean.
- Those with a fixed mindset believe that skills and intelligence are set and you either have them or you don’t. That people are just naturally good at things and others might not be. For people who have a have a fixed mindset learning isn’t seen as something required or helpful.
- People who have a growth mindset believe that skills and intelligence can be grown and developed. So people who are good at something are like that because they built that ability and put in the work.
Reflecting on your fixed mindset:
The first step to beginning your journey of the growth mindset is reflecting on your fixed mindset and understanding where it comes from and what triggers it. You can assign it a persona to distinguish it from yourself.
My fixed mindset reflection
Not wanting to look bad
I quit swimming when I was a child. Recently I asked my mom why I quit and she said it was because I was sick one day and the class went badly and I didn’t want to go back. Through my reflection, I understood I gave up on swimming because I didn’t want to look bad and take up the challenge.
I stopped learning Arabic when I was 10 even though it has the same script as Urdu which I had learned. I believed I was just bad at learning languages. It never occurred to me that learning a language took effort and time and if I put that in I could have learned it. I just blocked my mind and kept telling myself it isn’t for me.
When I was in Junior School I was getting 90s in Math. In Middle School Algebra was introduced and I did badly on a test. That year I got a D and the year after that an F. 10th grade math became easy again and my interest came back. When I was faced with challenges instead of confronting them I would withdraw. Telling myself again that I didn’t have the talent.
When I was a child I used to write stories and used to love writing. Then in High school, a teacher gave me feedback on my writing and I got defensive. In University I avoided every essay class because I thought I was bad at writing and there was no way to improve it was too late. Instead of learning, I ran in the opposite direction.
I remember going to a class attending it, seeing that peer feedback was part of the grading criteria, and walking out. Being judged by a peer and getting feedback, just didn’t seem like something I could take. People with a fixed mindset don’t see the point of feedback as they don’t think they can learn the skill. Instead it is just a reminder that you are bad at something.
Effort is seen as bad
I studied in Pakistan and in High school we do O levels and A levels which is the British system. After my O levels, I remember thinking oh I got 9 As out of 10 without much effort I must be so smart. In A levels I got 2 As and 2Bs and remember thinking I must be really bad at History and Sociology. My fixed mindset made me view effort as bad. This lead to me not putting in effort.
Where the mindset could have come from
My schooling was very focused on grades and not appreciating learning and effort. It was designed in a way that you didn’t need to put in work just rote learn for 2 weeks at the end.
When I was praised it was on how smart I am not how much effort was put in.
Mindset on a Spectrum
Now I am not going to say I quit everything in life because I did get through high school university and do have a good career. So, I do have a growth mindset when it does come to somethings. It is a spectrum. I will apply to jobs and go to interviews just to better my interviewing skills. I take every opportunity at work that will help me with my career growth.
But throughout life, I have had a pattern of being in the fixed mindset and giving up before even starting by telling myself I was not born with that talent. Science writing and anything with hand, body, and eye coordination were not my thing according to my fixed mindset.
I read the Talent Code and it reflects on a similar concept that you need 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. Tiger Woods might have been born with some talent but from a young age, his father made him practice a lot. Same with Football players from Brazil the reason they are so good at their sport is because they play Futsal which gives each player more interaction with the ball and more practice. So I knew that you aren’t born with everything but it was hard for me to connect this to my own life until I read the Mindset.
The good news is mindset is on a spectrum and we can learn about the growth mindset and apply it.
Exercises & Reflection to do to embrace the Growth Mindset
Having a growth mindset means believing that with effort, trying new strategies, and asking for help you can develop skills and intelligence. Taking feedback, embracing challenges, and putting in the effort is part of the growth mindset.
It is a slow journey to embrace the growth mindset because it requires years of unlearning behaviour. But start small and keep continuing on.
Whenever I have the thought that I can’t do this and I am going to fail I tell myself there is no evidence for that. I won’t know until I try and if I put the effort in I can achieve anything. I think of a time I thought I couldn’t do something and managed it with time. That is real evidence not my thoughts.
Before embracing the growth mindset I used to avoid giving wrong answers in training because it would make me seem stupid. But now I tell myself it’s a learning opportunity and I try to answer as much as I can even if I don’t know the right answer. Now of course if I give a wrong answer the voice in my head still tells me you are dumb. But I just have to keep fighting and think about what I learned. Distinguish myself from the persona that is my fixed mindset.
We have to distinguish ourselves from the feedback we get. When we get feedback it is not a personal attack. When a supervisor gives you feedback think about how it is their job and they are trying to help you. What next steps can you take to implement the feedback. I know it is easier said than done. When someone gives me feedback my first thought is still defensive but then I reflect on the growth mindset and what I can learn from the feedback.
My view on effort has completely changed and once you educate yourself on the mindset that will happen for you too.
Learnings and quotes from the Mindset Book
Praising student’s effort study
“We praised some of the students for their ability. They were told: “Wow, you got eight right. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.
Those praised on ability – they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their flaws and call into question in their talent.
We praised students for their effort – “Wow you got eight right. That’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.”
In contrast, when students were praised for effort, 90 percent wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from.” – Carol Dweck Mindset
Relationships and growth mindset
“Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. There are no problem-free candidates. The trick is to acknowledge each other’s limitation and build from there.” – Daniel Wilie
A growth mindset is more than just effort
“The first important thing to remember here is that the process includes more than just effort. Certainly, we want children to appreciate the fruits of hard work. But we also want them to understand the importance of trying new strategies when the one they’re using isn’t working. We don’t want them to try harder with the same ineffective strategy. And we want them to ask for help or input from others when it’s needed. This is the process we want them to appreciate: hard work, trying new strategies, and seeking input from others.” – Mindset Carol Dweck
“Then I told her to change her mindset. “Look, I said, “ it’s not about you. That’s their job. Their job is to find every flaw. Your job is to learn from the critique and make your paper even better.”
She tells me “ I never felt judged again, Never. Every time I get that critique, I tell myself, ‘Oh, that’s their job.’ And I get to work immediately on my job.” “- Carol Dweck
Wrap Up for growth mindset
I highly recommend reading Mindset by Carol Dweck because it has examples that will help you connect.
Reference: Mindset by Carol Dweck