Fixed vs. Growth / by john cheng

My father and I have recently been discussing the two different types of mindsets based off of Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Basically there are two different types of mindsets, a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

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.

What is even more interesting is how these mindsets are developed in young minds. For example children who received feedback that their success was derived from innate ability or talent, were more likely to grow into a fixed mindset, being reinforced that their abilities are static and non changing. This in turn causes them to see failure as being not smart or not able. Think of all the times in your younger years sitting in class, deciding whether or not to raise your hand to answer a question. There was an anxiety there, if you had a fixed mindset, that if you got the answer wrong you were just stupid and the failure ends there.

On the other hand, children who received feedback that their success was result of their hard work were molded towards a growth mindset. They were more likely to take risks and learned from their failures rather than be discouraged by them. These were the students that raised there hands to answer questions regardless of if they knew they were right or wrong, because, it they ended up wrong, at least they learned the right answer.

The above is really just the tip of the iceberg and I myself am still reading into these concepts. Read more at brainpickings for a more in depth summary of Dweck's writings, or better yet, read Dwecks book for yourself and learn more about the two different mindsets.

Which one are you?