A mindset is a set of assumptions held by individuals that creates a powerful incentive to continue, adopt, or accept prior behavior.
Phycologist, Carol Dweck’s, research on the significant relationship between mindset and ability, took the academic, sports and business worlds by storm. A mindset is a set of assumptions held by individuals that creates a powerful incentive to continue, adopt, or accept prior behavior. Dweck found two distinct mindsets that individuals typically exhibit when perceiving their own ability; the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The growth mindset is the understanding that you can always improve upon your abilities through practice and exertion. A fixed mindset however, denotes that successful abilities are innate and inflexible and that you are either born talented or not talented.
Which mindset are you? How you view your failure can determine which mindset you hold in relation to your abilities. When you have a fixed mindset, failure defines your limits, your capabilities and who you are as an individual. In comparison, the growth mindset views failure as a lesson. The core tenant of the growth mindset is that failure is used for self improvement and does not create a barrier to perfecting abilities.
In a 2004 case study Dweck, Mangels, & Good investigated whether a fixed or growth mindset could influence academic ability. Here, students were asked to perform complex tasks whilst fitted with an electrode cap to record the parts of the brain that reflect attentional processes. After each task the students were told whether their answer was right or wrong. The research found that students with a fixed mindset paid attention to only whether their answer was right. If wrong, they had little interest in learning what the right answer actually was. Being right outweighed their desire to learn. In contrast, those with a growth mindset wanted to assimilate both types of answers; whether it was right or wrong. Subsequently, in a follow up exam, the students identified with a growth mindset did significantly better than those with the fixed mindset.
The results of this study can also be seen in the business world. Successful business leaders typically possess a growth mindset. Rather than trying to prove they are better than others and work out success benchmarks and boundaries, they focus on internal improvement. Dweck states “leaders with a fixed mindset believe that some people are superior and others are inferior and their companies are a reflection of their own superiority.” These leaders will not be open to collaboration because they prefer dictating and only need helpers to implement their ideas. Business leaders who have a growth mindset, are more likely to encourage similar mindsets amongst their employees, inspiring innovation, hard work, and productivity.
Dweck explains that her research into the growth mindset does not seek to undermine the importance of “talent”, especially in the sports world but instead seeks to show that the growth mindset is of equal importance when measuring success. Sports phycologist Richard Cox found, that athletes who believed success was attributed to practice and hard work, and not exclusively natural talent, had more overall success in the next athletic season. Cox further found, that the highest performing participants believed their coaches also understood success was attributed to practice and hard work, not exclusively natural talent.
Dweck’s research positively disrupts the idea that natural talent supersedes hard work, practice and self belief. The growth mindset can be a powerful tool for those willing to embrace it, it can change the course of your life and push you out of your comfort zone to achieve things you thought unachievable. For business leaders, the above studies identify that the growth mindset is contagious in organisations. The employers that can cultivate a growth mindset workforce and embrace failure when it occurs will find increased innovation, creativity and cohesion in their work environment.
Read more from Carol Dweck here http://mindsetonline.com
Leila is PCA’s Head Editor and Researcher. She holds a 1st class Law with Business degree and became a published author at 25. Former crime investigator turned business journalist. On a mission to show businesses that presenteeism is a thing of the past. Everything seems impossible until it’s done. Typically found working from a white beach in South-East Asia embracing rapidly changing technology.