KUTV 2 News Fresh Living Segment and Article, October 2016

Your mindset – what you think and believe about yourself impacts how you perform.  And, effort, matters just as much, if not more, than talent.  That second sentence will likely spark a conversation from those in my circle who are teachers, parents, leaders and athletic coaches!  But, hear me out, there is some very solid (and cool) researcher on this topic.

According to Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, she has found mindset to be very important to success. Her research focuses on why people succeed and how to foster success. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20.

Your minds are constantly monitoring and interpreting what is happening in your world, you form beliefs and assumptions based on your interpretations. There are times, however, when the interpretation process goes awry and you form limiting beliefs and false assumptions and then act in accordance with those (limiting) beliefs and (false) assumptions.  When this occurs, it usually causes you to react inaccurately with feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and/or superiority.

Your mindset frames up what is taking place in your head, it guides the whole interpretation process.  According to Dweck, a Fixed Mindset creates an internal monologue focused on judging yourself and others – “This means I’m a loser”, “This means I’m a better person than they are”, “This means I’m a bad husband”, “This means my partner is selfish.”  Individuals with a Growth Mindset create an internal monologue without judgment on themselves and others.  They are sensitive to positive and negative information, but they focus on the implications for learning and constructive action and then ask themselves “What can I learn from this?”, “How can I improve?”, “How can I help my partner do this better?”

Dweck challenges us to consider effort is as important as talent.  This is hard for a society that worships their highly talented athletes, movie stars and singers.  Oftentimes, what you see is the end result of success without being privy to the hard fought journey these individuals encounter to get to the top.  Yes, talent is important but equally important is effort – not only to the journey but also to the mental toughness of the individual. 

Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn.  Infants stretch their skills daily, nothing is too hard or not worth the effort and they don’t worry about making mistakes or humiliating themselves.  Generally speaking, when babies fail – they get up and try again.  So what puts an end to this exuberant learning – the fixed mindset!

Those with a fixed mindset must not only succeed but also look smart and talented. You have to be pretty much flawless, and, you have to be flawless right away because after all, if you have it you have it, and if you don’t you don’t.  With a fixed mindset when you experience a setback there is no pathway for a comeback.  Setbacks and failure mean you lack competence or potential— you are a failure,  where do you go from there?

Think about Thomas Edison and the invention of the light bulb.  His success did not happen suddenly, there was no single moment of invention. The light bulb was not one invention but a whole network of time-consuming inventions each requiring a team of chemists, mathematicians, physicists, engineers, and glass blowers.

Edison was talented, a genius, but as a child according to his biographer, Paul Israel, he was more or less a regular boy.  What eventually set him apart was his mindset and drive.

As a parent, grades are one way you can encourage or discourage a growth mindset.  When you tell your child (with good intentions) how smart they are when they get good grades, you inadvertently tell them they are not smart when they get bad grades and promote the fixed mindset of talent is set in stone and being effortlessly smart is preferred.  Instead, focus on the effort put forth to achieve those grades, highlighting how effort helps you continually succeed, and if not currently succeeding the effort you put forth will support you in changing the outcome and succeeding in the future. 

Fixed Mindset

  1. Talent is set in stone, need to appear perfect to prove talents.
  2. Stay away from new or difficult tasks for fear of failure
  3. Fast to quit when facing setbacks
  4. Try to appear effortlessly smart, view hard work as a sign of inability
  5. Feel insulted by criticism
  6. Envious of the achievements  of peers

Growth Mindset

  1. Talent can be molded or developed
  2. Seek out and welcome demanding tasks, take calculated risks.
  3. Setbacks pave the way for comebacks, they are learning opportunities.
  4. Value hard work
  5. Seek out constructive feedback.
  6. Motivated by the achievements of peers.

When working with others encourage a growth mindset.  You do this by encouraging effort over talent, failure as feedback, the learning opportunity in setbacks, actively seeking out feedback and taking calculated risks.

Mindset, by Carol Dweck, is a must read for parents, coaches and those who lead others!

Test your Mindset for free – find out if you are Fixed or Growth Mindset!  http://mindsetonline.com/testyourmindset/step1.php

Interested in learning more about Mindset contact Trigena trigena@me.com or 801.915.4046.