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  • Writer's pictureLev Mikulitski

A growth mindset vs. fixed mindset... or, can we predict success.

Have you ever asked yourself: how is it that some people are so successful and others just are not? What differentiates them? What are the little things that can make a person successful or predict success? Does success depend only on us? Or is it all fate that has been forced upon us? In this article, you'll learn about the awesome power of your beliefs, particularly something called the growth mindset. After decades, researchers have found that our beliefs about ourselves, others, and how people become talented predict how high we set our goals and whether we succeed in achieving them. How restricting thoughts and beliefs impair our creativity and our ability to fulfill ourselves.

This article is a direct continuation of my first article in the series which dealt with the question of our ability to create growth by adopting personal characteristics such as innocence and ignorance.

Now our beliefs predict whether we seek out hard problems, or whether we take the easy way out. Whether we take risks, or whether we play it safe. Whether we admit our mistakes, or whether we hide them, or whether we blame others for our mistakes. Whether we ask for negative as well as positive feedback, and whether we handle our transitions well, or whether we crumble. Our beliefs even predict whether we're more likely to cheat when given the opportunity to do so.

For over ten years, Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist, and her colleagues have been studying how our unconscious beliefs about how people achieve success have profound effects on our choices, our behaviors, and ultimately our ability to achieve our goals. They have found that some people have what they call a fixed mindset, whereas others have what they call a growth mindset. And each mindset predicts how likely a person is to succeed at school, at work, in their career, and even in their personal relationships.

While learning about the power of mindset, think about whether you tend to have beliefs that are more consistent with the fixed or the growth mindset and consider the consequences this belief may have on your future. And I'll tell you up front that I'm going to make the case, that you would be wise to have or develop a growth mindset. Unfortunately, and as someone who works with senior executives in organizations, the ability of executives to cultivate a growth mindset, simply prevents their companies from realizing their full potential.

People who have a fixed mindset believe in nature over nurture. In other words, they believe that each person inherits intelligence, talents, and personality characteristics that are unique to their genetic makeup. And these characteristics, they believe, stay pretty stable throughout their lives. Consequently, they're more likely to say things like, I'm a people person, I'm a numbers person, she's a natural storyteller, and leaders are born and not made. They see their strengths and weaknesses as part of who they are as a person. And they make their day-to-day choices according to this belief.

A fixed-mindset people are more likely to seek out opportunities where they can demonstrate their strengths, and avoid situations that might expose their weaknesses. They're less likely to take risks. For example, taking on a course or a job assignment in which they may not excel because they fear that doing so may put them in situations that require skills that they don't yet have and that may lead to failure. When they or others make mistakes they're more likely to believe that these mistakes are due to a lack of natural ability rather than an opportunity to reflect on what they can learn from the mistake and learn new skills. They are less likely to seek out and appreciate negative feedback because it can feel like a threat to their identity, particularly because they are more likely to believe that they can't do much to change their weaknesses since they believe that their strength and weaknesses are wired in. They're also more likely to quit when facing hurdles and setbacks because they believe that struggles suggest that they don't have the natural ability in those areas. So, why even try?

For people with a fixed mindset, focusing primarily on their strengths may serve them well for a while as they continue to excel in what they already do well. But as they continue to miss out on opportunities to take risks, learn, and grow, their strategy of focusing on their strengths can backfire in the long run because the strengths that helped them in the path may not help them in the future especially if the environment changes and they don't change with it.

In contrast, people who have a growth mindset believe more in nurture than in nature. They believe that intelligence, talents, and personality characteristics are learned and can change over time with effort and practice. They are more likely to say, she worked hard to get where she is today. I can become a great speaker if I put my mind to it. And leaders are made, not born.

They believe that effort, careful planning, and ongoing learning, more so than natural ability, predict people's ability to achieve success, and they make their day-to-day choices and pursue their goals according to this belief. Because they believe their strengths are the result of effort rather than innate abilities, they are more likely to take on projects in which they can learn things that they have not yet mastered, even if doing so highlights their current weaknesses. They are more likely to take risks because they are more interested in growth than in protecting themselves from the possibility of mistakes and failure.

They are more likely to see mistakes as opportunities for learning rather than as signs of permanent personal flaws. They are more likely to seek out negative feedback and persist when faced with hurdles and setbacks. Because they believe these are to be expected as they move step by step toward their goals. In fact, many people with a growth mindset find negative feedback, hurdles, and setbacks to be motivating rather than demoralizing, and they double up their efforts to improve their performance.

The hallmark of people with a growth mindset is that they believe in the adage that the harder I work, the smarter I get. Day by day, they focus more on developing their future self than on validating and protecting their current self. They don't see the advantage of being the smartest person in the room. And they're not comfortable receiving only positive feedback. Now, here's another way that a growth mindset pays off. Because they start taking risks and learning from mistakes earlier in their careers, people who favor a growth mindset tend to be better prepared to handle the bigger problems and then make fewer mistakes later in their career when the stakes are higher.

To summarize the above article, it is important for me to note that there is countless academic research that supports a person's ability to create better conditions for success just by the right direction of thoughts, wonders, beliefs, and even the language through which he makes daily communication. These qualities are critical and fateful for entrepreneurs, CEOs of companies, and in general anyone who aspires to fulfill themselves. Growth mindset It's all your ability to adjust a small angle in the brain that will create the desired change.

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