Psychologist Carol Dweck says in an interview with the Harvard Business Review
that to learn effectively in a dynamic environment, you need a growth mindset.
She notes that people tend to have one of two mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their abilities can’t change. For example, after giving an unsuccessful speech, their reaction is: “I’m just not good at public speaking.”
The problem with this interpretation is that it can become self-fulfilling – discouraging practice of the skills that would make them better.
On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset believes that their abilities can change over time through coaching, education, and practice. Their reaction to delivering an unsuccessful speech is to try to understand what went wrong and improve.
This mental flexibility is even more important in a changing environment.
As Dweck points out: “this is a time of tremendous change where, like it or not, you’re going to have periods of confusion. Like it or not, you’re going to turn into a novice over and over again. And we need to be comfortable with struggle, not just effort, but struggle, confusion.”
Dweck writes in her book Mindset
that a key step in developing a growth mindset is understanding your current tendencies.
She offers the following exercise to help you gauge whether your mindset is fixed or flexible.
Read the four statements below, and for each one decide whether you mostly agree or mostly disagree:
1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.
4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.
Statements 1 and 2 reflect a fixed mindset, and 3 and 4 reflect a growth mindset.
Which mindset did you agree with more?