Have you noticed what a time of growth and change, opportunities and challenges many of us are facing? Times like these are often most challenging for those with a fear of success or fear of failure or who pin their happiness or self esteem onto outcomes and achievements. These people are often unconsciously subscribing to a ‘fixed’ instead of a ‘growth’ mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that we are each born with a fixed set of potential, whereas those with a growth mindset love learning for the sake of it and see possibilities everywhere.
This subject is close to my heart (as you can imagine!), recently I read a great book on it, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Carol conducted some very interesting research about these two very different ways of seeing the world. Part of what I found fascinating in this research was that it showed that our intelligence, gifts and talents can all contribute to closing us down to what is actually possible.
We subconsciously do that each time our potential is commented on, positively or negatively or we are congratulated on how smart or well we did – or are denigrated for our missing abilities. We start to believe, as Carol Dweck says “imperfections are shameful — especially if you’re talented” which then starts to translate into fear of failure (or success) because “If success (means you are) intelligent, then less-than-success (means you are) deficient.” On the other hand, those with a growth mindset understand that there is no great achievement without setbacks nor is there any shame in trying something and not doing well. These folk are happy to ask for advice and are open about what they don’t know. They have no fear of failure, because each step is just a learning opportunity. Nor do they suffer from a fear of success because they have no perceived concept of what success ‘should’ look like. Interestingly, these people number highly among the big achievers of the world.
We can have any combination of fixed or growth mindset in any aspect of life; work, relationships, hobbies, etc. For example the following come from a fixed mindset may limit the person believing them:
· “I am really good at numbers so I better become an accountant”
· “I can’t help shouting when I am angry, it’s just how I am”
· “I should take up some kind of musical instrument because I was great at that at school”
· “I am just not a creative person”
· “I don’t know if I can do xyz because I am not sure I have the talent for it” etc,
However by changing the perspective into one of a growth mindset each one offers the choice to grow and see what change is possible or the choice to be happy where we are.
If you have identified a fixed mindset and want to change that limiting way of looking at the world here some simple self help ideas to play with (or yes, I can help you shift – just call me) :
· Noticing if you are judging your progress or expecting a better performance out of yourself. If so challenge that! It actually doesn’t matter if you ‘should’ be able to do better or if others are outshining you. This is part of a fixed mindset and will limit you.
· Conversely, when something is easy don’t use it as an indicator that you have a talent in that area. That thinking will limit you to your ‘talented’ areas. It was just easy this time.
· Don’t aim for the outcome. Practice enjoying the journey. There is nothing wrong with having a goal or intention, it just can’t be the measure of your success!
· Recognise that praise or even old report card comments such as ‘could do better’ or ‘has potential in this area’ might be limiting you by increasing your expectation on yourself thereby lowering your self-esteem! (*Parents and teachers – don’t subscribe to the concept of praise and potential, applaud effort.*)
I relate to how daunting it can be to look at the width and breadth of your life and actions in hope to understand your conscious and unconscious motivations. Especially in relation to this fascinating topic of ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ mindsets. Just like a fish who doesn’t know it’s in the ocean, whilst swimming around in your mindset it may be challenging to honestly evaluate your circumstances. As always, my doors are open to assist anyone ready to make great changes, but also sometimes a close friend or partner can provide enough insight from a outside perspective to get you on your way. So, this coming week make some time with yourself and a close person to discuss your motivations and how these concepts may be influencing your actions and self belief systems. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
If you do want to take this process one step further, contact us here at Create and we can book you in for a session. We are also running a fancy new online booking calendar which is simple to use…..
Wherever you are when reading this Congratulations on all your efforts so far and enjoy the journey!
This article was written by Gay Landeta with the intention of helping you to Create the Life you Want to Live! All rights reserved 2014.