More on Mindsets


This was first published in Affinity magazine but the subject of Mind set is vital for success so I thought Id share it here too.

There is a lot of talk of mind-set these days – the underlying beliefs, often subconscious that can exert a sometimes significant influence upon almost every area of our life and happiness. Within education circles there has also been a lot of discussion about the work of Carol Dweck and ‘growth mind-set’.

In very simple terms the research and theories of Carol Dweck have shown that one of the key influences on our lives and therefore success and achievements is what we believe about ourselves. Very specifically what we believe about our abilities and characteristics.

Through research and experiments she identified two almost opposing mind-sets which she called the fixed and growth mind-set and they referred to the beliefs people held about their own characteristics in respect of intelligence and learning.

The Fixed Mind-set

This is characterised by a belief that who you are in terms of your ability, creativity and characteristic is fixed – set in stone, unchanging. The problem with this is that it can create a situation where criticism is seen as an attack on character and if the underlying belief I that this can’t be changed then understandably this becomes personal and is to be avoided. If you believe that your abilities can’t develop then the temptation will be to stay well within your comfort zone for that area and avoid anything that challenges you, because the underlying belief is that the skill can’t be improved.


The Growth Mind-set

This mind-set emphasise the fact that everyone can develop that new skills can be learned, in essence that we are not ever ‘finished works’ but are always able to learn and develop ourselves in different areas. The thing that will bring about change is not just our aptitude but our effort and motivation, how we apply ourselves

Of course we need to remember that as humans we don’t have a single view of ourselves, we may hold different views of our abilities in different areas of life. So we might feel we are accomplished in one area but not in another. We may be more prepared to learn in one area than another.

The Impact

But how can a simple mind-set have such an impact on our lives. We have probably all heard that often learning takes place at the edge of our comfort zone, in some ways there is always some stress involved in learning. If our belief is that there is always something new to learn we are more likely to embrace learning. If there is something we can’t do and we frame it as something we haven’t learned to do ‘yet’ our response may be very different from if we have the view that our abilities are fixed and we’ll never be able to learn that skill.

Becoming aware of our lack of knowledge or lack of skill in an area is okay if we believe we can develop but not if our view is that we will never be able to do it. I wonder how often you may have said  ‘I could never………..’ or ‘I’ll never been able to…….’ !

So criticism in those areas may be painful and the likelihood is we will avoid putting ourselves in positions where we have to do those things.

The power of the Growth Mind-set

By developing a growth mind-set and encouraging children to develop a growth mind-set we open ourselves and them up to the idea that we continue to learn and develop and that means it is safe to take risks to stray out of our comfort zone. A growth mind-set improves motivation and learning.

When working with children, or as a parent it’s important to encourage them but this should be done in ways that encourage them to keep on learning – using phrases like,’ don’t worry if you can’t do it yet’. Encourage them too by the fact that if they find something a bit hard that is a sign that their brain is growing.

Our Response

One of the key things that mind-set determines is how we respond to situations. When faced with something challenging are we likely to steer clear or armed with a growth mind-set are we likely to respond positively to the challenge and put ourselves into position where we can grow and develop. If you are serious about your success then why not join our newly formed facebook group – Steps4success