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Is your mindset helping you, or hurting you?

What is Mindset?

Mindset is a mental attitude or inclination. It's the way we approach life and how we view our abilities and potential. It's a key aspect of our overall well-being and affects everything from our relationships to our careers.

The book that really put the power of mindset into perspective for me was "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol Dweck, a renowned psychologist and Stanford professor who has done extensive research on mindset and its impact on our ability to achieve or succeed in different areas of life. As she wrote in Mindset, "The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life."

Carol identifies the two main types of mindsets we can fall into: a fixed mindset (not ideal) and a growth mindset (what we want to strive for).

A fixed mindset is the belief that our abilities and qualities are set in stone and can't be changed. People with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges, give up easily when things get tough, and feel jealous or threatened by other people's successes.

In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe that our abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and learning. People with a growth mindset embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks and are inspired by other people's wins.

Moving from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset

The good news is that we can all shift our mindsets from fixed to growth by adopting new habits and beliefs. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Embrace challenges: Instead of avoiding challenges, actively seek them out as opportunities to grow and learn. Be open to feedback and don't let setbacks discourage you.

  • Cultivate a love of learning: Make a conscious effort to learn new things every day, whether it's reading a book, taking a course, or trying a new hobby.

  • Focus on effort, not just results: Recognize the value of hard work and persistence, and celebrate small wins along the way.

  • Change your self-talk: Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself and reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. Instead of saying "I can't do this," say "I haven't learned how to do this yet, but I'm willing to try."

  • Surround yourself with growth-minded people: Seek out individuals who will support and encourage you in your journey. You'll be able to recognize other growth-minded people by the way they go after big things: those people who seem to have an ordinarily high capacity, who do brave things and hard things, who don't give up, or who live unconventional (yet inspiring) lives.

Mastering your mindset offers you a powerful tool that can shape your life in profound ways. By adopting a growth mindset and embracing challenges, we can achieve our goals and live more abundant and fulfilling lives. So, let's embrace it and see where it takes us!

Powerful passages and quotes from Mindset by Carol Dweck:

  • "Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then you'd better prove that you have a healthy dose of them."

  • "This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts."

  • "People in a growth mindset don't just seek challenge, they thrive on it."

  • "The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it's not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives."

  • "The other thing exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting life's setbacks into future successes."

  • "We offered four-year-olds a choice: They could redo an easy jigsaw puzzle or they could try a harder one... Children with the growth mindset—the ones who believed you could get smarter—thought it was a strange choice. Why are you asking me this, lady? Why would anyone want to keep doing the same puzzle over and over? They chose one hard one after another."

  • "It's one thing to pass up a puzzle. It's another to pass up an opportunity that's important to your future."

  • "People also have to decide what kinds of relationships they want: ones that bolster their egos or ones that challenge them to grow?"

  • "People with the fixed mindset said the ideal mate would: Put them on a pedestal. Make them feel perfect. Worship them. In other words, the perfect mate would enshrine their fixed qualities... People with the growth mindset hoped for a different kind of partner. They said their ideal mate was someone who would: See their faults and help them work on them. Challenge them to become a better person. Encourage them to learn new things. Certainly, they didn't want people who would pick on them or undermine their self-esteem, but they did want people who would foster their development. They didn't assume they were fully evolved, flawless beings who had nothing more to learn."

  • "In the growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don't expect magic. They believe that a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences."

  • "CEOs face this choice all the time. Should they confront their shortcomings or should they create a world where they have none?"

  • "CEOs face another dilemma. They can choose short-term strategies that boost the company's stock and make themselves look like heroes. Or they can work for long-term improvement—risking Wall Street's disapproval as they lay the foundation for the health and growth of the company over the long haul."

  • "When do people with the fixed mindset thrive? When things are safely within their grasp. If things get too challenging—when they're not feeling smart or talented—they lose interest."

  • "When [Nasa was] soliciting applications for astronauts, they rejected people with pure histories of success and instead selected people who had significant failures and bounced back from them."

  • "John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren't a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from our mistakes until you deny them."

  • "Although students with the fixed mindset showed more depression, there were still plenty of people with the growth mindset who felt pretty miserable, this being peak season for depression. And here we saw something really amazing. The more depressed people with the growth mindset felt, the more they took action to confront their problems, the more they made sure to keep up with their schoolwork, and the more they kept up with their lives. The worse they felt, the more determined they became!"

  • "When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don't define them."

  • "Even when you think you're not good at something, you can still plunge into wholeheartedly and stick to it. Actually, sometimes you plunge into something because you're not good at it. This is a wonderful feature of the growth mindset. You don't have to think you're already great at something to want to do it and to enjoy doing it."

  • "We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don't like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary."

  • "Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence—like a gift—by praising their brains and talent. It doesn't work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don't have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence."


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