Mindset: Fixed or Growth?

Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, is the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The focus of the book is on the issue of a fixed or a growth mindset.

Those who have a fixed mindset tend to view that they know pretty much all they need to know. If there’s something they don’t know it can’t be important, otherwise they would know it.

Those with a growth mindset believe that they can constantly learn and grow, no matter their age. They view a failure as an opportunity to learn, whereas those with a fixed mindset search for who is responsible, other than themselves.

My son Michael is an independent training and development consultant based in San Francisco. He delivers a program on this topic to managers of one of the highest of high tech companies in the Bay Area. Many of the managers are former top students at major universities; some have never experienced failure. They may think that they know everything they need to know.

During the training program Michael asks questions based upon Dweck’s work that helps participants determine their mindset. The goal is to help those with a fixed mindset to understand the advantages of continuing to learn and grow, no matter how smart they may be.

While it’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming fixed, the reality is that we can continue to learn and grow, regardless of our age. In exercise, for example, we will benefit greatly if we regularly review and modify our exercise program rather than doing the same thing over and over.

One of the many advantages of regular exercise is the potential improvement in proprioception: our body knowing where each part is at any given moment. The simple word is balance. Modifying our exercises helps keep the body learning and growing.

Once I had to cycle on a sidewalk due to road repair. I was riding into the traffic rather than with the traffic. My front tire got caught in a crack in the sidewalk and I was headed for a serious fall, potentially even into the road and the oncoming cars. I was fortunate that I was able to unclip my foot and brace the bike so that I didn’t fall. I attribute my good fortune to regular modifications in my program as well as balance exercises.

Growth versus fixed mindset.

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One Response to Mindset: Fixed or Growth?

  1. Neale Sweet says:

    Most of us know people who “know all there is to know” about almost any subject. And those folks tend to be rather pompous and annoying, not to mention BORING. Would you want to be stuck in a stalled elevator with someone like that?

    Having an open mindset, by definition, means that one is open to new ideas and experiences. My wife and I work out at the local YMCA where one of the trainers is a friend. He is always pointing out new ways to do familiar exercises. This adds variety to our exercise routines. Variety, as the old saw goes, is the spice of life.

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