The Habits of Successful People: They Have a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck is a researcher at Stanford University and is the author of the hit book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which reveals the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
In the quote below, Dweck explains the difference between the two mindsets by using students as an example…
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.
In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
Dweck’s research has changed the way we think about success. Because of her studies, we know that much of your success hinges on whether you believe that your abilities can be developed versus believing that they are fixed.
You Can Have Both Mindsets
The typical response to this research is to compare the two mindsets and say, “Obviously, the growth mindset is better. And, of course, that’s what I have.”
But there is a key distinction that is true for all of us: you can have a growth mindset in some areas and a fixed mindset in others.
For example, you might be very growth-oriented in your career and believe in your ability to develop and improve at work. Meanwhile, you might display a fixed mindset with regards to your health and believe things like “I’m just not the type of person who works out” or, “I was never the athletic type.”
But that’s just one example. The point is that it’s very easy for anyone to have a fixed mindset in a given area even if they display a growth mindset in others.
How To Develop a Growth Mindset
I’m not Carol Dweck, so I won’t pretend to speak for her here. (Carol, if you’re out there reading, I’d love to get your take on this.)
That said, I do think that the advice of my high school basketball coach can be very useful if we want to develop a growth mindset.
My coach said, “Confidence is just displayed ability.” Put another way: “Prove it to yourself in small ways and you’ll develop the confidence that you can improve.” In other words, small wins repeated over time can lead to a growth mindset.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this in the gym.
You can bring someone new into the gym — someone who doesn’t see themselves as a fit person or as a strong person in the beginning — and yet their confidence grows with each workout they finish, each rep they do, and every 5 pounds they add to the bar. They begin to believe they can grow. They begin to see their health as something that can develop. In other words, all of their tiny actions add up to a growth mindset.
As an example, this is what my buddy Chase Reeves said when he started lifting consistently…
Here’s one thing I’ve learned from a year at the gym … I can grow, build up strength, whatever’s necessary. I’m not defective.
There’s confidence that comes with that — wisdom enough to know when it’s too much weight, confidence enough to know what I can do. Confidence changes the kinds of thoughts you have.
Chase’s actions drove his mindset. This is completely different than what most people talk about when they discuss believing in yourself or becoming confident. The usual approach is to “fake it until you make it.”
Instead, we are talking about starting small, proving your ability to yourself in a thousand tiny ways, and letting the confidence and growth mindset naturally follow from there. Confidence is just displayed ability.