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Growth mindset

Advanced courses in self knowledge and inner leadership

Growth mindset

Psychology professor and author Carol Dweck coined the terms "growth and fixed mindset" which in Swedish translates to "dynamic and static" mindset. The two concepts differ in the view of intelligence, talent and talent. People with a static mindset believe that a person's talent, intelligence, and talent are innate and impossible to influence. A person with a dynamic mindset believes the opposite, that we can cultivate our basic qualities through effort. That is, anyone who is not born with the talent to play the piano can learn by training hard. This does not mean that with a dynamic mindset you think that everyone can become Einstein or Zlatan. Rather, that human potential is unknown and that it is impossible to predict how far we can reach through training, effort and passion.

Some people have a very static mindset and some have a very dynamic mindset. The vast majority are somewhere in between, as on a spectrum between the two. It also differs in different areas of the life of an individual.

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

One can clarify the difference between the different ways of thinking by looking at the attitude to different factors such as talent, challenge, effort, feedback and adversity.

With a static mindset, you see talent as something innate and unchangeable. That it's the lot of life that you brought with you. With a dynamic mindset, you instead see talent as a result of hard work and as something that can always be improved.

If you have a static mindset, you will see challenges as overwhelming and something that should be avoided because it will reveal your lack of talent. With a dynamic mindset, you instead embrace challenges and see them as opportunities for change.

With a static mindset, you see effort as something unnecessary and you associate it with not being good enough. With a dynamic mindset, you instead see effort as something essential and fundamental. As something that leads to mastery.

If you are a person with a static mindset, you take feedback personally and defend yourself. You interpret criticism and feedback as signals that you are not enough. With a dynamic mindset, you'll see feedback as useful. As a way to identify areas that can be improved. You welcome feedback and see it as a positive.

These two opposing ways of thinking also differ in how we look at and tackle adversity. With static mindset, you get knocked down and take adversity as proof that you're not good enough. With a dynamic mindset, you see adversity as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and focus on making changes.

There are many more areas/situations that can illustrate the difference between the different ways of thinking. The success of others, for example, where people with a static mindset feel threatened by the success of others, it provokes jealousy and a feeling of being inferior themselves. A person with a dynamic mindset is instead inspired by the success of others.

How do different ways of thinking affect our behavior and mental health?

If you have a static mindset and think your qualities and qualities are cut in stone, you will seek confirmation, over and over again. This is because, if you only have a certain amount of intelligence and a certain degree of talent, then you will feel the need to prove that it is enough, that you are sufficient. This may show that in any given situation you evaluate whether you will win or lose, seem smart or stupid, be accepted or not, feel like a winner or loser. Life becomes filled with uncertainty and a constant search for the reassuring affirmation.

With a dynamic mindset, you don't waste time trying to prove to yourself and others that you're good enough. Instead, you see the opportunity to become even better and to develop. Why try to hide your shortcomings when you can overcome them? You are not looking for friends or partners who confirm and support your self-esteem. Instead, you're looking for people who encourage and challenge you to grow. Because why stay in what you know you already know when you can take on challenges that will make you develop?

When you shift between the different ways of thinking, it's like entering different worlds. In one world, success is about proving that you are smart or talented. In the other world, success is about challenging yourself to learn something new and develop. In one world, failure is about setbacks. There, getting a bad score, losing a game, getting fired or being rejected means you're not smart enough, not liked enough, not good enough. In the other world, failure is about not growing, not reaching far enough towards what you value. That means not reaching your full potential. In one world, effort is a bad thing. If you need to make an effort, it means you're not smart enough. If you were, you wouldn't have to make an effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smarter.

Growth mindset

What does the research say?

Research suggests that our mindset plays a crucial role in how well we succeed in life. People with a dynamic mindset are more likely to keep making an effort when they encounter difficulties while people with a static mindset would rather give up.

It is the passion and desire to grow by stepping outside your comfort zone that characterizes a dynamic mindset. That mindset allows people to cope with and master even the most challenging periods of their lives.

With dynamic mindset, personal success is working hard to become the best version of yourself. With a static mindset, it is simply to establish one's superiority, to be the one who is better than others.

It all boils down to the fact that mindset is an interpretive process about what precedes us. With a static mindset, that process is an inner monologue of constant judgment and valuing. Where every little information is used as evidence to determine things like whether you're good enough, if your partner is selfish, if you're better than the person next to you, etc. With a dynamic mindset, the process is rather about constantly seeing opportunities for improvement and development, sucking in as much information and input as possible to put it into action towards becoming a better version of itself.

What shapes our mindset?

We are formed during our childhood, and so do our ways of thinking. Children who are praised for being smart and talented develop a static mindset, while children who are praised for putting in a lot of effort and putting in a lot of work adopt a dynamic mindset. The difference lies in being praised for the process rather than how well you do. One learns that the value lies not in the actual performance but in the effort and that the performance is thus not static, it is dynamic depending on the effort.

Studies in children

Studies in children show that children who have shaped a static mindset tend to take the easy path. They choose easy tasks that confirm their existing ability, believing that smart children don't make mistakes. On the contrary, children with a dynamic mindset choose tasks that stretch their ability and cannot understand why they would want to do the same tasks again as they have already accomplished. In other words, children with static mindset want to ensure that they succeed to seem smart while with dynamic mindset they want to challenge themselves because their view of success is to become smarter.

Children who are praised for their performance are disheartened when faced with difficult challenges, while children who have been praised for their efforts are rather tagged. Children who are praised for their performance tend to perform increasingly worse with more difficult tasks as their self-confidence drops. They are disheartened by their own attitude that you are either "good or bad" and lose their desire. Children who are praised for their effort are instead improved with the number of challenges and also have much more fun.

In one study, children had to undergo IQ tests and then let them write a message to their parents and tell them about the experience. They also had to write to their parents about the point they got. Perhaps the most sad consequence of having a static mindset turned out to be dishonesty. 40% of children who were praised for their performance lied to their parents about their score to make them look better. With a static mindset, flaws are somewhat shameful.

Love relationships

Our mindsets accompany us in all areas of life, not least in our relationships. With a static mindset, you think your ideal partner is the one who places you on a pedestal and makes you feel perfect. With a dynamic mindset, you prefer a partner who acknowledges your shortcomings and lovingly helps and supports you to change. You are looking for someone who encourages development and to become a better version of yourself.
A static mindset adopts more the traditional, fairytale view of love. That is, when you find the right one, it should be perfect "so they lived happily ever after." The problem there is that you expect all good things to happen automatically. With a static mindset, you tend to think that as soon as problems or challenges arise in your relationship, it's a sign that you're a bad match or that your partner is wrong. Because you think properties and qualities are constant and can't change, you also don't see the potential to work through the problems and grow together.

Change your mindset

You can practice your mindset to become more dynamic and thus see life and yourself as an ever-growing organism in development.

One way to start that process is to investigate if there is any area in your life where you weren't very talented from the beginning but over time have become really good at? Think about how it happened. Broaden this exploration by including your surroundings. Look at people who from the beginning weren't very good at something they now have great talent for, how did they get there?

How often when you're faced with a challenge, you think "I'll never be able to do that" or "no point in trying, I'm just going to embarrass myself." Awareness your thought patterns! It's the first step in changing your mindset and exploring how far you can go. You can go far.