Do you love a good challenge? Do you thrive on starting out badly and getting better at something? OR do you feel like once people think you’re good at something, you don’t want to go any further - in case you’re not actually as good as you think you are? Have you ever been called smart after saying something clever and then been scared to speak up again in case that person who called you smart realizes you’re not actually as smart as they think you are?
The first examples demonstrated a growth mindset, the latter ones a fixed mindset.
If you’re like MANY of us, you have a fixed mindset - which means doing anything you could potentially fail at is, well, TERRIFYING and often you’ll spend countless days, months, years making excuses for why you can’t do this really important thing that you super want to do. For instance, starting a YouTube Channel. That’s a scary thing for fixed mindset people! What if I start and I’m no good? What if people find out I’m a fraud? Everyone thinks I’m so good - what if they realize I’m actually not? Or even something as simple as playing beach volleyball with friends. What if I look stupid? What if I fall and embarrass myself? What if people criticize me?
When one has a fixed mindset, they believe that intelligence, athletic ability, character, and skills are GIVEN - you’re either good or you’re not good. They may intellectually know that people can get better over time, but their self-esteem can’t handle being seen as bad at something. And this isn’t their fault! A fixed mindset often arises from being told we’re really smart, really good at something, and being praised for our accomplishments rather than our efforts. We are rewarded for being naturally brighter or more gifted than others, and that fosters a belief that we shouldn’t have to work hard in order to be good - if we have to work at it, then we’re not naturally smart. We see it as either/or; I’m either naturally gifted or I have to work hard. (You can have a different mindset for different areas of your life. If you find yourself STUCK in one area, a fixed mindset could be the culprit.)
Growth mindset people were given (or have adopted) a different message. Anything worth doing takes effort, and effort is the FUN part! It’s FUN to see yourself improve at something over time! It’s invigorating to challenge yourself, not knowing how it will turn out! They are literally in it for the journey, not the destination (which I thought was just a cute saying before I learned about this). They never have to say “I could have been ___ if I had tried.” They get to say “I gave my all to my passions, and it was a challenging and incredibly satisfying life.”
Is your mind as blown as mine was? There are people out there who WANT to do scary things, just to see if they can?! When I learned about this, I wanted in. I imagined how many fun things I would be doing if I had this type of mindset. I would take belly dancing lessons to actually improve, not just for fitness. I would put my everything into my business. I would play sports at the park. I would USE any constructive criticism I was given to make myself better (rather than condemning the person criticizing me and giving up completely because I’m not immediately perfect).
And guess what? Just by becoming AWARE of the growth mindset, I started to adopt it! That very day, I played soccer and tennis in the park just for fun - I didn’t give a thought to whether I’d be good, I just said “Hey, I’ll get better the more I play!” I started to look at my business in a new way, my writing in a new way, and my future in a new way. Suddenly it stopped being about where I was going to end up and how quickly - it became about how much fun I can have, how much I can challenge myself, how much better I can get. It’s completely freeing, and gives old struggles a new sense of adventure.
If this sounds appealing to you at all, keep following my journey - I’ll share my tips and growth mindset techniques with you every step of the way!
If you want to go deeper, you can read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck - that was my starting point.