Carol Dweck describes her research on two mindsets in the book “Mindset.” The fixed mindset is based on the belief that intelligence and other traits are unchanging: either you have them or you don’t. The growth mindset is based on the belief that intelligence and other traits can be developed with effort. The great thing about this book is that simply being aware of the two mindsets and the results of holding them helps us to reframe our thinking. People with the fixed mindset avoid challenges, which could result in failure and reveal a lower level of desirable qualities. People with the growth mindset do not fear failure, as they view it as an opportunity for learning.
Mindset does not say we can be anything we want with enough time and hard work, but that the hand you are dealt is just the starting point for development. We do encounter limitations, and some people may have more natural talent in various areas that makes it easier for them to develop in those areas. However, most people who at excel at something put in a lot of time and work to get where they are.
- Mindsetonline.com-resources to test & change your mindset
- Do You Have a Growth Mindset? and Right Mindset For Success at HBR (includes audio 18:24)
- Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset at http://michaelgr.com (with illustrations)
- How Not to Talk to Your Kids is an indepth article by Po Bronson at nymag
- TED Talk by Eduardo Briceno (10:52)
- Resources complied at whatkidscando.org : videos and activities
“Make Waves” by Patti Johnson outlines methods for creating change with many examples of how others have done it. The author challenges commonly held beliefs that can hold us back, like “Change must come from the top.” See how anyone can start a wave and more, in an excerpt at Success.com. Start by asking “What can I do?” and “What if?”
Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. -E.L. Doctorow.
As in writing, it’s okay to get started with a wave before you know all the answers. The author describes incremental planning, with changes expected to be made as you learn more. To start a wave, you do need to be able to clearly describe what you want to accomplish and why, and have some ideas for where to start. However, you don’t have to have everything completely planned out prior to beginning.
Do an experiment
When you want don’t know the answer to a problem, it can be helpful to run experiments. The experimental method is about trying different things out to see if they work or not. We see this in the business world with the Lean Startup Method, which depends on creating a minimal viable product to test. While Yoda said “Do or do not. There is no try,” in the movie Star Wars, William Edward Hickson said “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Things I learned from these books:
- Be curious!
- It’s okay to start without knowing all the answers.
- Test assumptions with experiments.
- View failure as learning, and try doing something else.
- Change isn’t easy, but much can be accomplished with hard work and time.