Mindset and the Long Road

I think beginning with a definition of mindset would be helpful. This is pulled from Brainpicking’s very thorough article and edited down, I would suggest reading the entire article, but for those with less time:

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, synthesized 20 years of research in her remarkably insightful Mindset: The New Psychology of Success dealing with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality.

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.

The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, Dweck found in her two decades of research with both children and adults, are remarkable.

She writes:

For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.

How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life?

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves — in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships.

Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character.

Every situation is evaluated:

  • Will I succeed or fail?

  • Will I look smart or dumb?

  • Will I be accepted or rejected?

  • Will I feel like a winner or a loser?

There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt, the hand is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

They believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.

At the heart of what makes the “growth mindset” so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning.

As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road

What it all comes down to is that a mindset is an interpretative process that tells us what is going on around us. In the fixed mindset, that process is scored by an internal monologue of constant judging and evaluation, using every piece of information as evidence either for or against such assessments as whether you’re a good person, whether your partner is selfish, or whether you are better than the person next to you. In a growth mindset, on the other hand, the internal monologue is not one of judgment but one of voracious appetite for learning, constantly seeking out the kind of input that you can metabolize into learning and constructive action.

In the rest of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck goes on to explore how these fundamental mindsets form, what their defining characteristics are in different contexts of life, and how we can rewire our cognitive habits to adopt the much more fruitful and nourishing growth mindset.

When you have dedicated yourself to your business or profession, not jumping around to the newest greatest or shiniest object, what mindset you settle down with will impact how you perceive feedback (good and bad), and allow yourself to grow.

My hope is that this information sparks a flame of curiosity about your own mindset. From personal experience it isn’t an either/or realization, but a dance between the two, being able to see when you are fixed in your thinking around a specific area and where you are able (and comfortable) cultivating a growth mindset and then working on the areas where you become rigid.

On the long road of development, both business and personal, there are many parallels and often a small business is limited only by the ability for the owners to grow, release control and cultivate their own key personnel towards growth and development.

This sounds simple but it’s incredibly hard to hand over a company that you’ve relied on to feed your family into the hands of someone that you’ve knows a short time. Relying on that person to take care of it, change it and make it their own can be tortuous for some. Seen through a growth framework it becomes a journal of self discovery for you and your employees.

If you are read to take a step towards growth and development, reach out to us. We are hear to help.

For more about mindset read Dweck’s: Mindset: the new psychology of Success, Mindset- Updated Edition: Changing the way you think to fulfill your potential and Angela Duckworth's Grit.

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