Dr Dweck coined the terms “Fixed Mindset” and “Growth Mindset” after studying thousands of students. Some of us believe that success is based on the innate ability, that is basic qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed traits and cannot be changed. this kind of mindset is known as “Fixed Mindset”.
While others believe that success is based on hard work, dedication, training and deliberate practice are believed to have the “growth mindset”.
These two schools of thought are known as “Fixed Theory of Intelligence” and the “Incremental Theory of Intelligence”.
How are these important from Mastery at Work point of view?
People with fixed mindsets believe that intelligence is static and cannot be increased. This results in them being wary of learning difficult tasks, inability to follow through and finish work if they encounter an obstacle, inability to put in extra efforts to get things done when they face challenges, inability to take criticism and lack of confidence at work. The end result of all of the above is inability to progress in career. It is also very surprising that as managers we also tend of believe that capability in some people is limited and we also do not instill growth mindset in this set of people.
There is also another group of people who are likely to fall into fixed mindset approach, surprisingly these are people who have been high achievers in their respective fields. Many leaders fall into fixed mindset approach and refuse to take feedback once they feel they have accomplished much more than others resulting in their downfall due to lack of ability to listen to feet on street, inability to take feedback from peers etc.
How is the employee with growth mindset different from the above two? An employee with growth mindset tends to learn new activities, takes up challenges willingly, will persist in case he encounters challenges and works around solutions to overcome obstacles he faces at work. He is open to feedback and sees feedback as an effective mechanism to grow, and will tend to find ways of working which have worked of his predecessors or mentors.
How to we instill growth mindset in children and in adults? The first step towards instilling growth mindset is the realization that “growth mindset” exists. Not many of us are aware that our brain is not plastic and is growing every second of our lives. Parents in particular play a very important role in teaching the child about the same. The second most influential person in a child’s life is teacher. The teachers need to instill growth mindset in children. They need to make the child acutely aware that with every new thing he is learning and every new task that he is undertaking his brain is growing and his ability is increasing tangentially.
If you are reading this article and wondering how to instill growth mindset in yourself? Then you need to remember that the key to succeeding at the developing growth mindset is trying harder at the task on hand and secondly trying new tasks. This means that we need to work more effectively at tasks on hand and try and avoid errors in our work (by thoroughly understanding what needs to be done) and also try to do new tasks. Take up something challenging at all times even if it means we encounter failure occasionally. We need to understand that even if we fail today, doing new activity will help us in strengthening our brain and gives us confidence.
The stepping stone to growth mindset begins with intense self-awareness, that is our capability to realize our strengths and our weakness very well. People with growth mindset generally eradicate their weaknesses by learning the tricks of the trade from their mentors in the field. Our brain is like a muscle which needs to be developed, this development is possible only through training it hard and working it out harder.