Which of the following describes a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset?

In this blog we will discuss what describes a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. 

We will also briefly explore how either mindsets affect our lives and how we can develop a healthier mindset.

Which of the following describes a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset?

Take a look at the sentences below and identify which of the following describes a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset.

  1. I’m either good at something or I’m not.
  2. Learning and growing your brain through opportunities help performance in school
  3. I’m just not good at maths.
  4. When people give me feedback, it feels like criticism.
  5. Challenging yourself by persisting longer with problems helps to grow your mental muscle
  6. Other people’s successes make me feel bad about myself.
  7. Other people’s successes encourage and inspire me. They show me what is possible.
  8. Believing your talents, abilities, and intelligence can be developed in different ways

Out of these eight sentences- 2,5,7, and 8- are growth mindset sentences. Let us take a look at what growth mindset and fixed mindsets are.

The concept of the “growth Mindset” was first described by Psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University based on her ground-breaking research that investigated why some people fail and others succeed. 

Dweck’s research studied highschool students faced with puzzles of varying challenging levels, research found that some students embraced failure and treated it as a learning experience, and this positive attitude aided in progress. This attitude was what Dweck later coined the ‘growth mindset’

Research on the matter also found that praising talents was not as beneficial to personal progress and success as compared to relapsing the process of doing things- including persevering in the face of failure. 

Dweck stressed that effort, strategies, persistence, and resilience should be rewarded as this helps to cultivate a positive growth mindset where an individual appreciates themselves for the effort put in but also focuses on how to do things better. 

What is a growth mindset?

Growth mindset refers to the attitude and belief that individuals have where they believe that progress, skills, and intelligence can be built and honed overtime and effort. 

This kind of mindset focuses on the importance of effort, resilience, evaluation, and improvement which was first introduced by Carol Dweck who further described it as the “power of yet”.

A growth mindset applies the “Power of yet” which gives the individual the understanding that there is still something that can be done about one’s failures or one’s setbacks. 

The idea that the power of yet brings to the table is that an individual has power and choice over what they can do to improve their current condition to bring in process and success.

It pushes the idea that learning is not linear nor is the learning curve not permanent- rather an individual learns at every stage of their lives- and it is this understanding that allows people to progress further. 

People with a growth mindset tend to Look at Difficult Situations as Opportunities and when they have a hard time with certain things, they take it as a challenge to learn.

They also have goals that they focus on and which gives them a purpose to regulate their behaviours, thoughts, and feelings to help themselves progress towards their goal. 

They are able to determine One’s Unique Learning Style by selecting tools that help them learn and help them improve in their learning so that their learning process is most efficient.

They are able to be realistic about their limits, accept where they are going wrong or what they lack. After which they work towards correcting these limitations or improving these setbacks by setting achievable and realistic goals.

Growth mindset also includes the attitude of Quality over Quantity where the focus is to do something- even if it is very less- very well first before moving on to doing it very well more times.

What is a fixed mindset?

Having a fixed mindset refers to a deterministic belief that success is only possible when an individual is born with a high IQ and without it, there is no chance of doing well. 

It is an unhelpful attitude where the individual believes that their chances at success is confined to current abilities and that they cannot improve these abilities to become better. 

It also holds on to the belief that their success depends on the resources available to them- that if they are not smart enough or rich enough they can never be successful.

People with this kind of mindset hold on to the idea that they want to look smart and that they are scared to look inadequate so they never try new things.

They tend to Merely Focus on the “Now” and Not Think of Possibilities that can be achieved in the future. So they are stuck in the present way of things and do not see that these things can improve if they put in the effort. 

They are also afraid of challenges and do not see difficulties as learning experiences. Instead they are afraid that if they fail to rise up to the challmee they will lose social approval so they tend to shy away from challenges. 

They often compare Themselves with Others and often try to associate with others who perform less than themselves to appear better and they also tend to give up easily.

What are the differences between fixed and growth mindset?

The differences in mindset include the following:

A fixed mindset shies away from challenges since they view them as threats. They prefer to  remain in their comfort zones.On the other hand, a growth mindset looks at them as opportunities for learning. 

People with a growth mindset acknowledge and are able to accept their weaknesses after which they work on them to improve and grow in that area whereas those with a fixed mindset deny their weaknesses due to which they do not do anything to change them.

People with a growth mindset hold on to realistic and achievable goals and are often optimistic in working through to achieve these goals. Whereas for fixed mindsets, they are pessimistic and/or have unrealistic objectives which in turn discourage them because they are seemingly unattainable.

Individuals with a fixed mindset often yield to peer pressure due to their need for approval from others while those with a growth mindset stick to their values and their principals even if it means losing social approval. 

They often compare Themselves with Others and often try to associate with others who perform less than themselves to appear better and they also tend to give up easily whereas people with growth mindset then to work with people who are at a higher position for inspiration and guidance and tend to look at failures as opportunities of growth thus they persevere. 

Locus of Control for growth mindset individuals are internally balanced where they believe that they can do something that will have positive results whereas fixed mindsets are more deterministic and external locus of control.

How to develop a growth mindset?

You can change your mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Some of the ways you can do this includes:

Understand that you can improve

The first thing that you can do is to acknowledge the idea that you can improve, that your skills can grow and improve if you apply yourself to it. 

There is plenty of research that backs up the idea that our brains are built to grow and learn as well as strengthen neural connections to ‘rewire’ your brain which can help you learn new skills and new ways of thinking. 

Pay attention to your inner voice

Pay attention to what you tell yourself, your inner voice, about your mindset. Many people have a negative inner voice or engage in negative self talk that acts against a growth mindset. 

Pay attention to what you say when you fail or make mistakes and try to change thoughts such as ‘I can’t do this’, to ‘I can do this if I keep practising’ to nurture a growth mindset.

Set learning goals

Set goals to learn, not goals to prove something to yourself. 

Rather take the time to set goals that allow you to learn something new and commit to learning and the process itself. 

For example, instead of setting a goal to lose weight you can set goals to learn how to strengthen muscle or learn how to eat healthier. 

Let these goals be realistic and achievable. So instead of setting goals to score an A as a current D student, set goals to move up to grade C or B before moving forward to aim for an A. 

Capitalise on your failures 

When you fail or make mistakes, capitalise on it and take learning from it. Failures teach us what success can’t. So instead of shying away from failures, take advantage of your failures by reviewing them, identifying what did not work and then devising a plan to correct your mistakes. 

Reward the process

Reward the process and the effort exerted to achieve something rather than rewarding the achievement. 

So reward yourself for sticking to the plan, for encouraging yourself to get up and continue running everyday for a week instead of losing weight. 

Get feedback

Try and seek feedback on your work from peers and mentors so that you can do better even if you have done your best this time. There is more to improve on and this growth mindset is what helps you progress further. 

Accept failure as part of the process

Accept failure and mistakes and start looking at occasional ‘failures’ as positive learning opportunities by asking yourself what you can change, what did not work, what can be done to replace the failed plan etc. 

Be consistent

Be consistent in changing your mindset and in the process of putting effort to change. Take time to reflect on things that hold you back and that are part of the fixed mindset. Being consistent also requires you to be flexible and adaptive meaning that even if something goes wrong, benign able to adapt and allowing yourself to persevere is important. 

Conclusion

In this blog we discussed what describes a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. 

We also briefly explored how either mindsets affect our lives and how we can develop a healthier mindset.

References

Difference Between Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset. DifferenceBetween.net. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-growth-mindset-and-fixed-mindset/

Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset: How To Shift To A Path Of Learning And Growth. TechTello. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://www.techtello.com/fixed-mindset-vs-growth-mindset/

Smith. J. Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: How what you think affects what you achieve. Mindset Health. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://www.mindsethealth.com/matter/growth-vs-fixed-mindset

Carol Dweck: A Summary of Growth and Fixed Mindsets. FS. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://fs.blog/carol-dweck-mindset/

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