Episode 004: Growth mindset
Do you believe that your basic qualities—may it be intelligence, artistic ability, or biz skills are set in stone or could change? Your mindset, fixed or growth will shed some light on how you move about life accordingly.
Episode 004: Growth mindset transcript
So today I wanted to talk to you about a topic that has been coming up for me a lot for me lately and it is the idea of growth mindset. You may have heard of it, you may have seen Carol Dweck’s Ted talk, that’s how I was first introduced to it but since then I have seen a lot of people talk about it and kind of adapt it as it is something that we need to strive for or something that should be accessible in our vocabulary and be thinking about it on a daily basis.
Carole Dweck is a well-known psychologist who has been working with children for decades. Her work that has been influencing results in schools and student performances still applies really beautifully to adult life and adult thinking. She highlights two ways of thinking. Two ways of mindset. It’s from her book called Mindset, the new psychology of success. In it she describes again, studying children, but she describes this idea that people can have fixed or growth mindset. She says that there are people who believe that their qualities are carved in stone. That for example their intelligence is something basic that they cannot change. They can learn new things but they can’t change how intelligent they are substantially. It’s a fixed mindset. And the problem with the fixed mindset is that if you think that intelligence is something that you are given it’s your hands or cards that you are dealt with at the beginning of life then you are constantly going to want to prove yourself whatever happens in your life. The lack of understanding that you can grow and evolve and get better will create a constant need for you to reassert yourself in all areas of your life as somebody who is intelligent enough, who is artistic enough, whose sport abilities are xyz. So intelligence can really be replaced by any other thing, any other quality you believe to be fixed or given or unchangeable.
And so if you have a fixed mindset, you are basically consumed with the goal to constantly prove yourself. Because you are constantly wondering if you will succeed or fail, if you will look smart or dumb, if you will feel like a loser or a winner.
In contrast to the fixed mindset, people who have a growth mindset believe that the hand they are dealt is just a starting point. They believe that their basic qualities can be cultivated through effort. So people with the growth mindset believe that their true potential is unknown. They believe that intelligence, or artistic skill, or spots ability, or business skills can always change substantially.
Now, I would love to say that that’s how simple this is, and just go and become a growth mindset person. But what ends up happening is a lot of it has to do with how you were raised or praised as a child. And if I think about the fixed mindset it’s definitely more the environment that I was raised in. I was praised for my intelligence and being smart in school and not for my efforts. So if I am presented a challenge my initial reaction is to avoid it instead of embracing it. Given obstacles I find myself wanting to give up faster than persist and plow through. As I have been introduced to some of this work and as I have been doing a lot of work on my own over the past decade, I have slowly started to shift to understanding what the growth mindset can do for me. One of the things I really enjoyed in Carol Dweck’s talk, I actually rewatched her Ted talk in preparation for this episode is that she mentions the idea that difficulty just means not yet.
Difficulty just means not yet.
So everything that is a skill or ability you have is just a starting point. It’s something that you can master through effort, criticism is something you can learn from instead of ignoring or avoiding the feedback, or that the success of others is inspiring or I can find lessons in those versus feeling threatened. Feeling threatened that someone else’s success makes me more of a failure.
Fixed mindset people have everything on the line based on their ability, because the ability cannot grow, right? So every single time they have to reinsert themselves into the conversation, into the business, into their leadership as a person who is really good at X.
Growth mindset people ave the capacity to understand that they can change substantially. And by changing substantially they are achieving new greater potential for whatever they are good at, or whatever they are interested in getting good at, and they lean into that discomfort. So if I think of my upbringing being a little more fixed mindset and thinking about this goal of growth mindset I would say I’m more in the middle, I have a mixed mindset. And I have to consciously think about what it takes for me to lean into discomfort. It doesn’t come automatically but I know that that’s where I want to go so I like to stop and think that that’s where I want to go.
For example, I think you guys are possibly putting the puzzle pieces together now that I had a psychology background that I didn’t really do anything with and then I became a designer, a graphic designer, and then through lot of the graphic design and brand work, mostly print work that I have been doing, I have been working with clients who are trying to figure out what it is that they want to do. Even before getting to a logo, figure out some brand clarity for them, I like to say it. Take them through this journey of self-discovery, why it is that they do something, what is their inner, visceral driving force for the business, then lead them through their mission and vision, and then actually at the end, at the very end, after all the hard work get through the aesthetic, visual design of the process and create brand identities for them.
In this process I have realized that I have been able to grow as a designer, and get way better, but I have also been able to grow as a brand clarity, I hate the word coach, but I’m gonna say coach, and in order to reach people and talk to them, especially under the current circumstances, I have found that I needed to be able to get on camera, and say that things that I know have value and importance to my clients or potential clients. This growth mindset conversation came up because I spent the last couple of weeks leading a mini course on Facebook with weekly live sessions. And if you know me you know that I absolutely despise photos of me and video of me and I just feel like that’s being in the spotlight or asking for more than I really want. But I found myself really enjoying the process of leaning into the discomfort and going live and being really excited to talk about something that I enjoy doing.
It felt like I was engaging in growth mindset by going through some tech challenges, I’m not sure why my laptop camera wasn’t connected properly to Facebook, I forget how I solved it but I remember being very frustrated and creating a test group with my friend who went on there so I could fake a live and see if she could hear me and see me. All the other obstacles that came with it from understanding how FB groups even work or you know I can comment and give feedback and that kind of stuff but there were tons of small challenges that I could have just given up on or said “ugh, I don’t know how to do this, that’s it!” But I wanted to persist, and I wanted to get to the other side where the effort was valid. I believe that when we see the potential to mastery through effort, when we can take criticism at face value and making it sound like or seem like it’s a direct attack on our character when we don’t make it mean anything other than a potential for improvement, we can really achieve great things.
I am noticing with especially this group of women, that I am leading right now in this mini course, that there are always obstacles that come up. There’s always potential for failure or judgment or criticism but in the growth mindset all of those things are propelling you forward. All of those things are taking you through they not yet. All of those things are just a starting point because your potential is completely unknown. The thing there are no guarantees.
But I believe and maybe it’s a little bit naive or maybe it’s romanticizing it a little bit I do believe the effort can lead to success. Sometimes when we are sitting in the unknown or sitting in that middle that not yet, it’s hard to believe that the future can exist.
In psychology it’s actually called cognitive dissonance. I don’t want to confuse you with too many terms and concepts today, but it’s this idea that you can hold, or not hold, two opposing thoughts, right? Like the idea that I will be successful and my goal is to be a millionaire but right now I’m just living paycheck to paycheck. So how do you reconcile both of those thoughts?
So I think in the growth mindset if you’re sitting in that not yet you have the capacity to understand that not knowing your full potential is why you don’t have to yet yet. Not being through to work and through the hardship and through that particular challenge or obstacle is not a sign of failure, but a sign that you are stretching yourself that you’re creating new neuropaths in your brain to solve for something and that it can lead to success and great things.
One of my favorite things that’s happening in the world right now in all the hardship that he is happening in the world is how many people are embracing technology and zoom and all the things that they never did and it’s really wonderful to see that when you don’t have another option, you do it right?
So what if you took that exact mindset and considered your dreams and your goal non-negotiable? What if you decided that what you want or for what you want you have to go deep and you have to embrace the not yet.
So I want to leave you with this thought today that you could be a fixed mindset person where you believe that all of your qualities are carved in stone, or you couldn’t believe that having a growth mindset allows you to change substantially any of your abilities are capabilities can change substantially
I want to leave you with the thought to kind of just see what these things really mean to you and then see if you can identify those moments when you are sitting a little bit more in the fixed side versus the growth side and see if you can inch towards the middle towards that mixed mindset—I liked that description online, that some people call the in-between the mixed mindset—and just notice where those moments are where you have the opportunity to lean in, do something that you may be never done before and find that difficulty as just not yet. Let me know how that goes for you I’ll be back next week. Bye!