Mindset – fixed or growth

It has come to my attention over my degree that everyone has a different way of looking at intelligence and therefore how they approach work – specifically a very difficult task. I was always under the assumption that myself knew my weaknesses and therefore had to work hard to overcome this. However when I would do badly I would attribute it to this weakness and believe there was no way they could be overcome after trying so hard and therefore I just had to accept this was ability.

Other people however believe that their ability is fluid and can change over their lifetime. This can be explained by Dr. Carol Dweck in her book called “Mindset – how you can fulfil your potential”.

A few modern philosophers… assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism… With practise, training and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.

Fixed Mindset – “Believing your abilities are carved in stone. This mindset means you have to prove yourself over and over again. If you only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain amount of personality and a certain moral character – you’d have to prove this in every instance”.

Growth Mindset – “Basic abilities can be cultivated through effort. Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

It is further noted in the book that many people that are famous for have asserting certain amounts of intelligence that may have once been assumed to just have been born with this have actually worked very hard to get where they are:

  • Darwin – once considered an ordinary child
  • Tolstoy – also considered ordinary
  • Ben Hogan – a great golfer was once considered uncoordinated
  • Cindy Sherman – one of the most important photographers who failed her first photography courses
  • Geraldine Page – world famous actress who was advised to give it up for lack of talent
  • J. K. Rowling – famous for her harry potter series was turned away 12 times for her first script of “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone” before it was believed in and became the legend it is today.

If you have a fixed mindset you may be thinking “oh well they must have had something there and it just took a while for others to see it”. While this may be true it is interesting that all of these people overcame these doubts and in many cases they were very strong doubts such as being told to give up to pursue what they believed in. Furthermore, through experiments on people with both fixed and growth mindsets it was found that people with fixed mindsets were the ones with the most inaccuracy with their abilities in regards to what their strengths and weaknesses are. This makes sense – those with a growth mindset are most likely to have an open mind about their abilities and take criticisms whether positive or negative. Whereas those with a fixed mindset you are more than likely to listen and adapt the criticism to what you already believe about yourself whether this correct or not.

It makes me think the next time I get some work back that taking the criticisms more personally would actually bode well for future pieces of work rather than just working on what I think I need to.


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