Dr.Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist researched human motivation. Is it hard work that pays off or the smartness, intelligence that works is the big question that we live with validating ourselves in various ways.
Dweck came up with mindsets (Fixed mindset and Growth mindset) that govern our lives in most ways. The mindsets are explained with a lot of anecdotes and stories in the areas of sports, leadership, relationships, businesses, teaching, parenting, and at last on how we change the mindsets.
Mindset is about our perception of abilities, intelligence, success, and failures.
Most of us define our work through success and failure. Through success or failure, we validate ourselves through it.
If we seek validation through either of those, we do not have a scope to learn from those.
Benjamin Barber, a sociologist, said, “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and failure……. I divide the world into the learners and non-learners.
It’s all about learning. Believing that our intelligence is static is a pathway to a fixed mindset. Believing that anyone can attain intelligence through effort is a growth mindset.
In Sports, it’s common to call upon the ‘naturals’ praising the talents and giving more emphasis on talent and inherit skills. Dweck shared the story of Billy Bean, a baseball player whom people called a ‘Natural.’
‘Billy was of the opinion that he should never make an out.’ Billy never had the concept of failure in his mind. He defined failure as a dead end. Whereas there are legends who saw failure as an opportunity to learn and they also moved on through failure taking what’s worth learning.
In businesses, there are many anecdotes on how growth mindset leaders acted and created the growth of the companies. A few classic examples are how Jack Welsch displayed growth mindset leadership.
The mindset applied in every field of work. Even in relationships, we often think that one doesn’t need to work to improve the relation. ‘Either we have the magic or not’ is how people often be in a fixed mindset expecting a lot rather than working towards the relation.
One of the interesting areas, I looked forward to reading is how the mindset works with parenting, teachers, and coaches. Every word and action from a parent (teacher, coaches)to the child sends a message.
Whenever we praise, it’s important we praise the effort, process, perseverance rather than intelligence, talent, signaling them that effort matters most other than anything.
We need to observe the children and provide constructive criticism and feedback rather than punishing for their mistakes.
Mindsets are explained better through this picture.
First of all, ‘intelligence is not fixed’ it can be attained through perseverance and effort is the key message of a growth mindset.
Our perception of success and failure define our mindsets. Do we see success as a validation of our intelligence and failure as a lack of intelligence?
Thinking through a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, it’s seen every day and in every classroom.
A seventh-grade girl summed it up. “I think intelligence is something you have to work for…… it’s not just given to you…. Most kids, if they’re not sure of an answer, will not raise their hand to answer the questions. But what I usually do is raise my hand, because if I’m wrong, then my mistake will be corrected. Or I will raise my hand and say, ‘How would this be solved?’ Or ‘I don’t get this. Can you help me?’ Just by doing
Everyone would like to learn. How do we have non-learners?
Carol Dweck gave a set of problems to 10-year-olds that were slightly hard for them.
One group of the kids reacted in a shockingly positive way. They said, “ I love a challenge, I hoped that this would be informative to me.”
Other groups of kids felt tragic. They felt guilty for not achieving the solution.
The Latter can be termed as a Fixed Mindset. The mindset where intelligence is perceived as a fixed asset.
The other mindset is called the Growth Mindset, where intelligence can be developed through effort and resilience.
Dweck's research has shown commendable results on how these mindsets work.
How do we change the mindsets?
It’s not that we are going to either have a fixed mindset or growth mindset. We show different mindsets in different situations perceiving the problems or situations according to our thoughts.
We can change mindsets through our thought and process.
Looking at the challenge as an opportunity.
Finding obstacles as a path for learning.
I personally used this approach in the classrooms and found exceptional results. The meaning of the effort and difficulty is changed. It led the kids to be okay with wherever they are in the learning curve. Realizing, through effort, they could improve, they put their efforts. As a facilitator, I was praising the process, effort, perseverance but, not the intelligence, smartness.
Constructive feedback and tools for learning helped children to attain a growth mindset in second language learning.