Develop a Winning Mindset - Fixed vs Growth Mindset.
Benjamin Franklin , one of the Founding Fathers of the USA and respected polymath, once said:
“Most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75.”
While such a philosophical musing is open to personal interpretation, most experts agree that his quote was made in reference to the difference between a fixed mindset and one of growth. Franklin was seemingly making the point that by the time most people reach a relatively young age, the combination of social conditioning, psychological wounds, beliefs, perceptions and genetics, are rigidly fixed in place – unless otherwise challenged. They define who we are and can create a limited experience of your world.
What's the Problem with a Fixed Mindset?
While there's nothing to say that having a fixed mindset can't lead to a happy and fulfilled life, it can potentially sabotage goal achievement, take the joy out of your existence and reduce feelings of wellbeing.
Furthermore, it does tend to be true that most successful and fulfilled individuals, fall into the percentage of people who Franklin suggests 'never die' in their quest for personal development. These are the people aligned with the Universe's apparent evolutionary nature; the growth-minded.
Indeed, along with certainty, variety, significance, love and contribution –experts have identified growth as one of the six requirements of personal fulfilment . Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck, has identified the trait as being scientifically proven to re-model brain neurons in positive ways.
In her 2014 TED Talk, ‘The Power of Believing That You Can Improve ’, Dweck tells the fascinating story of what happened when ten year old school children were given a task which was slightly too advanced for their level of development. The children either responded with feelings of 'Loving the challenge' (a growth mindset), or a 'Tragic feeling of failure' (a fixed mindset). Dweck came to an enlightening conclusion; As a human being you can luxuriate in the power of 'Yet' to come, or stay stuck in the tyranny of 'Now'!
LUXURIATE IN THE POWER OF YET TO COME – NOT THE TYRANNY OF NOW!
By embracing the power of 'Yet', we're able to see we're on a path towards a brighter future and can enjoy the process of 'becoming'. The other option is to take your failure personally, which Dweck explains can lead to cheating, seeking validation through the failures of others and running away from difficulty.
Brain scans also support Dweck's hypothesis, having shown greater neuron activity in growth minded individuals, in response to challenges. Most encouragingly, while Dweck's TED Talk was focussed on children, it explains how a change in one's neurolinguistic perspective can instantly start to switch the brain from a fixed to growth mindset.
Dweck highlights how trials with underprivileged school children in some of America's most impoverished cities, created dramatic shifts in grade attainment. The key was teaching the pupils to disassociate from failure in the 'Now' and associate with being smarter in the 'Yet'.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset: Common Traits
|Resistant to change
|Willing to change
|Lacking in goals
|Open to ideas/flexible beliefs
|Arrogance and lack of empathy
|Humulity & empathy
|Negative view of life
|Depressed and lacking vitality
|Zest for life
|Lethargic health and wellbeing
|Vibrant health and wellbeing
|Fears the unknown/change
|Embraces the unknown/change
|Views failure as negative
|Knows the power of failure
Three Growth Mindsets that Created Superstars
The man considered to be the greatest basketball player the NBA has ever seen, didn't make the cut as a sophomore at high school! His failure drove him to prove his doubters wrong and he quickly started drawing record breaking crowds, who rushed to see a player who was dominating junior games with incredible 'hang time'. The rest is history – he went on to become a global superstar who was never scared to fail:
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." (Michael Jordan)
"I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps." (Thomas Edison)
Tips to Develop a Growth Mindset
All of us can develop a more growth-aligned mindset to enhance wellbeing and success.
1. Have a life mission
Having a mission in life, whether it's raising a child, building your business, or simply giving the world the best version of yourself, tends to innately develop more of a growth mindset. What is your mission and why?
2. Embrace failure
The tougher your mission – the more you'll be forced to grow in response to the resistance created by failure. It doesn't happen to you, it happens for you!
3. Develop humility
One problem of a fixed mindset is the belief that failure is 'bad'. However, by being honest with yourself and developing humility, you'll be able to accept your current limitations and react to failure with growth.
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5. Seek out 'Eustress'
Endocrinologist Hans Selye is widely regarded as the first scientist who publicised the concept of 'stress' as a factor in our lives. Selye also conceptualized, 'Eustress', which is defined as 'good stress', in the form of psychological, physical or biochemical stimuli.
Author Tim Ferriss, author of best selling books including The 4 Hour Body, explains the benefits of seeking out positive stress: “Role models who push us to exceed our limits, physical training that removes our spare tires, and risks that expand our sphere of comfortable action are all examples of eustress—stress that is healthful and the stimulus for growth.” Seeking out good stress in your life is an active way to fuel your growth mindset.
Just as being closed-minded can have its drawbacks, a growth mindset isn't without its potential problems – particularly when it comes to the drive to constantly improve. The growth-minded individual needs to ensure they take a time-out from their mission and 'just be'; switch off your electronic world for one day a week and let your subconscious mind recover and grow.
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The ancient growth-minded Samurai warriors lived by the motto, 'Content but never satisfied'. It's a beautiful ethos echoed by Benjamin Franklin himself, and psychologist Carol Dweck.