The Power of MindsetBy
Michael Neil (www.geniuscatalyst.com), one of my favorite coaches and authors, recently did an amazing radio show on the power of mindset. In it he shared the work of a psychologist who has been doing work in this area and the ramifications as to how we operate in this world were startling to me. Let me tell you what I learned.
Carol Dweck took a group of grammar school children who had all received the exact same score on a test and divided them into two groups. The first group was praised for their achievement with phrases like, “congratulations! You must be so proud! YOU ARE SO SMART!” The second group was equally praised but with one specific difference. They were told phrases like, “congratulations! You must be so proud! YOU MUST HAVE WORKED SO HARD!”
A very interesting result ensued. The children who were praised for being smart – something that is innate and unchangeable – were later afraid to take on new challenges, avoided things that would test their abilities and tended to lie about test scores they received in the future. In contrast, the children who were praised for working hard were eager to take on new challenges, welcomed things that would test their abilities and told the truth about the test scores they received in the future. (I hope these children were all given a little bit of therapy after this experiment… but I digress…)
So what does all this mean? Well, Dr. Dweck identified that there were two types of mindsets that people tended to operate from: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset comes from the position that your intelligence, talents and abilities are fixed and innate… In other words, you are dealt the cards you’re dealt so get over your big, bad self and deal with it. In contrast, with a growth mindset you see your intelligence, talents and abilities as fluid and a “work in progress” that can continually improve.
The ramifications of this simple realization are incredibly powerful. Whichever perspective we come from, chances are, that perspective operates under the radar and secretly influences everything you experience and think.
Do we operate from the knowledge that we can learn and grow or do we avoid new things because of how “we ARE?” This simple realization can directly affect our motivation levels, our anxiety levels in the midst of new situations, whether or not we are likely to avoid something and a host of other common problem scenarios.
Instead of beating ourselves up and ripping ourselves apart, agonizing over the things we can’t seem to get ourselves to do, perhaps a simple question of asking ourselves what mindset we are coming from… fixed or growth… could be all the motivation we need to turn something we dread into something that is filled with possibility, potential and most of all fun.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to examine one thing that you are avoiding completing (or starting) and analyze your mindset around it. If you’re not coming at it from a mindset of growth and possibility, how might you change the way you see the situation to move it there?