What is a growth mindset? In human psychology and management theory, a mindset is simply a set of thoughts, values, or tactics held by one or a group of individuals. In other words, it is “the thing that makes the mind think.” In psychological theory and related thinking, a mindset can also be viewed as stemming from a person’s world view or philosophy of life to which they surrender their power and control. This is referred to as a “constraint.”
A growth mindset, in short, is the capacity to perceive, learn, and apply future possibilities based on the current inputs available to the individual in the present moment. The individual is not looking to reach a destination; rather, he or she is seeking to find a way to get there. A fixed mindset is one where the future is already fixed and all that is required is the ability to react appropriately when that future does occur. A flexible mindset is one in which future possibilities are not fixed, but are determined by situational circumstances and the strengths and weaknesses of the individual in those circumstances. These two types are often confused or even contradictory in the real world.
Growth mindsets develop in response to and reinforce the essential fundamental characteristics of intelligence: curiosity, innovation, and motivation. Curiosity feeds on itself, leading to the development of new skills and information, and is the foundation for discovery. Discovery feeds on itself, leading to the development of more skills and knowledge. As the thinking and acting capabilities of the human mind to become more capable, so too do the basic qualities of intelligence.
Growth mindsets foster a capacity for flexible action because they allow the individual to explore and test new ideas and concepts in a dynamic manner. They also allow the development of working relationships because they enable each individual to feel more connected to others and to take ownership of their contributions to group success. When these basic human qualities are fostered in all people, success becomes immeasurable. This is why growth mindsets are essential to ensuring long term viability in a complex world and the progression of mankind.
A fixed mindset keeps your head fixed on past failures and what could happen next time while a growth mindset looks ahead to what can happen next week, this month, and the next year. Both types of outlook are critical to being successful, but the growth mindset gives you the will power to deal with those challenges head on and make them a part of your history. For those who don’t know, the next time you’re faced with a challenging situation, ask yourself, “How would I deal with…” and then go down the list.
Those who have a growth mindset understand that intelligence is not something that can be measured, it must be cultivated. Those who have a fixed mindset believe that their set of capabilities will eventually measure up to the needs of society and therefore are not optimizing their abilities for their own growth. Those with a fixed mindset also believe in the sanctity of intelligence, but they choose to see those abilities as separate from who you are. In order to prosper, you must learn to rely on your inner strengths, your hidden talents, and your hidden skills.
Those who have a growth mindset learn new skills because they find a use for something that has been lying dormant in their lives. They also learn new things because circumstances throw challenges their way. When you allow yourself to use your gifts or talents for personal growth, you become in tune with your true intelligence, which is always there. As you grow, you realize that your fixed mindset was never right.
People who have growth mindset accept that life will throw challenges at them, but they learn to face those challenges and turn them into opportunities for greater success. Those with a fixed mindset believe that because they were born, they are stuck with a limited number of abilities. Therefore, if they get smarter, they should just keep being stupid, and nothing else will happen. However, the reality is that we were all born with some inherent potential. By utilizing our mind to harness its potential, we can get smarter and become the person we really want to be.