Bill was frustrated. His manager Eric was well known and liked across the organization and it seemed like everything he touched turned to gold. Eric was also 10 years Bill’s junior and had a similar college education and background. Bill was always trying to prove himself and show everyone how much he knew, to no avail. It seemed to backfire. Bill’s frustration boiled down to this: Why was Eric so successful and why wasn’t he experiencing the same success in his career?
Turns out, Eric has a growth mindset and Bill has a fixed mindset.
A growth mindset, says researcher and Stanford professor Carol Dweck who coined the term, is the belief that qualities and abilities can be developed or improved through effort and dedication. People with a growth mindset love learning and have resilience that helps them accomplish great things. That description fits Eric like a glove. Eric is open to constructive feedback, always looking for a better way . . . in everything from how to keep his email manageable to how to be a better spouse and parent.
Bill on the other hand, exhibits a fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset tend to believe their basic qualities and abilities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. They often believe that talent alone creates success (without effort). They spend their time proving their skills or intelligence instead of developing them. Bill was always striving to sound like an expert and show everyone how much he knew; key signs of a fixed mindset.
Is it possible for Bill to shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Absolutely! But first he needs to catch his fixed mindset thinking in the act and change his attitude and beliefs. If he can do that he can change his mind. Literally.
When he hears his self-talk (or thinking, if you like that term better) say something like, “I’ll never get promoted,” Bill will need to catch himself and reframe the thought to something like, “If I work hard and continue to learn, I will be ready for a promotion.”
Then, he will be able to tap into the secret to Eric’s success: his growth mindset.
How about you? Could you amp up your success by taking on a growth mindset?
Listen to your own self-talk today. Do you hear fixed-mindset or growth mindset thoughts?
Take action: when you hear a fixed-mindset thought, stop yourself and reframe it to a growth mindset thought.
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