Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

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I just got done reading, “Mindset, The New Psychology of Success” thanks to a recommendation from a friend on Twitter (Chris Wood – follow him @ChrisWood415).

This fantastic book took me about three days to read and I’ll likely read it at least two or three more times.  The reason why, is the information contained in this book is absolutely necessary for all leaders today.  NECESSARY!

The book compares the fixed and growth mindset and the affect each has on leadership, ability to learn, and overall mental capacity for growth.  I’m extremely visual so I’ll make the following comparison.

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Specifically the Fixed Mindset: I see this as a ruler.  The fixed mindset is always focused on measurement.  Best, brightest, smartest, most successful, etc.  These people and leaders are in it for the “I” and accomplishment for themselves.  Likely even at the expense of others.  History tells us the brutal stories of great fixed minded leaders so focused on their own greatness and power that they neglected to see what was really happening to their empires.

The ruler is also inelastic.  It can’t and does NOT change.  You could say the fixed mindset would agree with, “It is what it will be” nothing more or less.  Intelligence is fixed.  You’re either blessed to be smart or dumb.  You’re either “gifted” or normal.  You have the skill or don’t.  The book outlines many leaders of enormous companies with this mindset and the fatal flaws that occurred because of it.  I won’t tell you who they are because I think you should read the book yourself.

a-ball-of-clay-webThe second mindset is the Growth Mindset.  I associate this to a ball of clay.  A ball of clay isn’t sexy.  But it’s shape and form are not yet defined.  Through different experiences, pressures, and the impressions of those around it, the clay will take on a new shape.  Possibly many different shapes in its lifetime.

The growth mindset is one we should strive for.  Growth minded leaders are not the smartest, brightest, most ego driven.  They’re in it for the “we” and for the team.  They appreciate the challenge and feedback of others so long as its focused on the betterment of the entire group.  Growth minded leaders are in it for the challenge and not entirely the absoluteness of the outcome or result.

Looking at this from a personal perspective I can tell you I battle to be a better growth minded person.  I grew up with a mindset of achievement and look what I did.  It was the fastest way to get ahead.  Win more often.  I’m great, look at me, I’ve accomplished, I deserve reward.

I believe it’s the result of age, experiences and the willingness to learn that this is changing for me personally.  Perspective is a wonderful teacher if you just allow it to sink in.  Lastly, I’d like to thank Carol Dweck for writing this terrific and easy to read piece.  I hope to share it with many others.

ACTION ITEM: I highly encourage you to make the small investment to read this book.  But please don’t stop there.  Share it with a friend, not to call them out as a “fixed” mindset person, but to challenge them to think differently and get better!  To make this easy I’ve provided a direct link to the book below.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

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