How do you tend to react when someone gives you a feedback?
Do you accept it? Do you feel offended that someone judges you? And, most importantly, do you apply it?
I guess, these questions are relevant for all of us who are looking for self-development and self-improvement.
The way we react to these questions is defined by what Carol Dweck, a Stanford university psychologist, calls the type of our mindset: fixed or growth.
Carol Dweck was the first who connected achievement and success with difference in belief systems about our own abilities. She summarised her findings in a remarkably insightful "Mindset: the new psychology of success" – a research, which looks into how the slightest change in our beliefs can have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.
One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality.
People with a "fixed mind" believe that their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. Success therefore is viewed as a confirmation of inner abilities or talent, which leads people to striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs.
In a growth mindset, in opposite, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Therefore failure is seen not as evidence of unintelligence but as a great opportunity for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Growth mindset is curious and creates resilience necessary for future great accomplishments.
So, the most intriguing question for me is then: how we can rewire our cognitive habits to adopt the much more fruitful and nourishing growth mindset?
Fortunately, Dweck offers some advice on that. She talks about 5 steps:
1. Begin by seeking evidence for the growth mindset in your life.
Think about an area where you once had little ability, but now you're pretty good at it. How did you make the change?
Think about people who have done things you were sure they could never do. What does their experience tell you about our ability to develop ourselves?
2. Learn to recognize your fixed mindset when it takes over.
Dweck recognizes that the internal dialogue you have with yourself greatly impacts how you think about the world around you. As you approach a challenge, your fixed mindset voice says, "Am I sure I can do it? Maybe I don't have the talent. Let's stay in our comfort zone and protect our dignity."
As you face criticism, it quickly says, "It's not my fault."
3. Recognize that you have a choice.
How you treat challenges, setbacks and criticism is up to you. You can interpret them with a fixed mindset as signs that your talents are lacking, or you can interpret them with a growth mindset as signs that you need to stretch yourself and expand your abilities. You decide.
4. As you face challenges, setbacks and criticism, listen to that fixed mindset voice and talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.
For example, when you approach a challenge:
The fixed mindset says, "Am I sure I can do it? Maybe I don't have the talent." The growth mindset answers, "I'm not sure I can do it now, but I know I can learn."
Or as you face criticism:
Fixed mindset: "It's not my fault." Growth mindset: "If I don't take responsibility, I can't fix it. Let me listen, regardless of how painful it is, and learn whatever I can."
5. Put the growth mindset into action.
Which voice you listen to becomes pretty much your choice. You decide whether or not you're going to:
–take on a challenge wholeheartedly,
–learn from your setbacks and try again,
–hear the criticism and act on it.
I'll try and start practice hearing both voices, and practice listening to and acting on the growth mindset. And I'll see how things start to change.
If you'd like to share your experience, comment below.