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The New Psychology of Success
The physical characteristics of our bodies are predetermined, but the debate continues on whether intellectual and physical abilities are hereditary or learned. The concept of a fixed versus a growth mindset is crucial to this debate. People with a fixed mindset believe they are naturally gifted at certain things and incapable of others, while those with a growth mindset believe they can become skilled at anything with enough effort. The mindset we adopt shapes whether we believe we can learn, change and grow throughout our lives or not.
In a fixed mindset, people believe that an individual’s abilities are predetermined and cannot be changed. Companies like Enron and McKinsey embody this thinking by investing in employees who are deemed natural talents but provide little training or opportunities for growth. Those with a fixed mindset are quick to judge themselves and others and feel a need to constantly prove their talent to protect their ego and gain approval from others.
Those with a growth mindset relish challenges and believe that hard work, dedication, and perseverance can lead to growth and development. They enjoy learning and pushing themselves to the limits of their potential in various fields, from sports to writing to music. These individuals embrace the occasional failure as a means of improving their skills and recognize that the sky’s the limit when it comes to life’s possibilities. They encourage growth and development in their relationships, work, and personal lives and view problems as challenges rather than insurmountable obstacles.
People with a fixed mindset seek approval from others and focus on appearing talented or intelligent. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset prioritize development and teamwork, seeking to improve themselves and others.
The examples of Lee Iacocca and Lou Gerstner illustrate these mindsets in action. Iacocca, with his fixed mindset, was initially successful in turning around Chrysler Motors. However, he then became more focused on seeking approval than on improving the company, leading to his decline.
In contrast, Gerstner, with his growth mindset, was able to turn around IBM by emphasizing teamwork and personal development. He broke down hierarchies, opened up communication, and focused on shared development rather than individual success. This approach led to lasting success for the company.
Overall, the difference between a fixed and growth mindset can have a significant impact on an individual’s behavior and success, as well as the success of a company or organization.
The growth mindset sees failure as an opportunity for learning and improvement. This perspective enables individuals to see failures as setbacks to be overcome, rather than defining moments that determine their worth as a person. This mindset is exemplified by Michael Jordan, who refused to let his missed shots or defeats define him. Instead, he used these experiences as opportunities to learn and improve his skills.
In contrast, the fixed mindset sees failures as disasters that reflect personal shortcomings. This perspective leads to defensiveness, excuses, and a fear of taking risks or trying new things. Individuals with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges and stick to what they already know they can do well.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, embraces challenges and sees them as opportunities for growth and development. It allows individuals to persist in the face of setbacks and to view obstacles as stepping stones to success. By adopting a growth mindset, individuals can unlock their full potential and achieve success in all areas of life.
As we grow older, other factors can also influence our mindset, including our life experiences and the feedback we receive from others. Praising someone’s effort, rather than their intelligence or talent, can encourage a growth mindset. On the other hand, constant criticism can lead to a fixed mindset and a fear of failure.
Belief systems and cultural values can also shape our mindset. In some cultures, mistakes are seen as learning opportunities and growth is highly valued. In others, failure is seen as a personal flaw and success is attributed solely to innate talent or luck.
Ultimately, having a growth mindset and realizing our potential requires a willingness to take on challenges and learn from our mistakes. It also requires a belief that our abilities can be developed through effort and perseverance, rather than being predetermined by factors outside our control. With this mindset, we can reach our full potential and achieve success in any area of life.
Adopting a growth mindset can be challenging, especially for those who have been conditioned to think a certain way for a long time. But with awareness, practice, and support from others, it is possible to shift towards a growth mindset and reach our full potential in various areas of life. It’s also important to note that having a fixed mindset in certain situations is okay, as long as we are open to learning and growing in others. Ultimately, a growth mindset can lead to self-fulfillment and the ability to achieve the seemingly impossible.
Final Summary –
Developing a growth mindset requires a conscious effort to challenge our own beliefs about intelligence, talent, and the role of effort in achieving success. We must be willing to embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as threats to our self-esteem. We must also be willing to persevere in the face of setbacks and failures and to view them as valuable feedback that can help us improve and refine our approach. With dedication, persistence, and a commitment to continuous learning and growth, anyone can adopt a growth mindset and realize their full potential.
About the Author –
Carol Dweck is a professor of psychology at Stanford University. In addition to Mindset, she has also published Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development and Handbook of Competence and Motivation.