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Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset – which one should you have?

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Albert Einstein

The great Albert Einstein demonstrated the growth mindset long before Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Professor coined the term. 

For any kind of growth to take place, it takes conditioning or a pre-setting. If there is any part of us that we need fine-tuned to possibilities and poised for opportunities, it is our mind.

Exploring the great value of mind setting is particularly relevant in today’s fast-paced, highly-demanding world. With all the talk on innovation, the word “disruption” is gaining familiarity. Back in the day, to disrupt meant to disturb or cause delay. As children, we may have thought disturbance as an unwelcome break from the normal flow of things. This time around, the word has taken on a powerful connotation; a very much welcome, even necessary scenario.

The technological battlefield cries out for reinventing the status quo; to shift to previously unfounded quality, unseen possibility and a dramatic change in ways of doing things. To disrupt is to inject game-changing growth. This begs the question; how do we go about it?

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Experts tell us there are 2 mental settings possible in every person. One is the fixed mindset and the other a growth mindset. Consider the following questions:

  • Are you open to learning to new things?
  • Do you take criticism constructively?
  • How do you react to another person doing better than yourself at your area of competence?
  • Do you take responsibility for your failure?
  • Are you curious to study your mistakes?
  • Are you willing to share credit for success?
  • Do you face problems head-on or try to avoid them?
  • Do you see difficulties as roadblocks or stepping stones

If you find yourself shrinking in intimidation over the prospect of facing new and difficult things, you may be on a fixed mindsetting. The fixed mindset rests on the assumption that abilities and talents are innate and unchangeable, and that one is either born to do something or he is not.

On the contrary, the growth mindset sees everything as possible through repeated practice. Traits responsible for success are not fixed. They can be cultivated. The growth mindset welcomes new challenges, is open to making mistakes. It is resilient in the face of failure.

The growth mindset is critically important in all areas, but particularly more so in education and entrepreneurship.

A child with a growth mindset will persist in solving a math problem until she figures it out. She will happily practice playing the piano even when those around her, seeing slow progress, tells her to give up. To illustrate the difference in practical study life, two students might get the same failing grade in Math and look at it in different ways. 

A fixed mindset learner would go: “I’m not good in Math.”

A growth mindset learner would go: “I’m not good in Math yet.”

The growth mindset leaves ample space for possibility and encourages persisting on learning. It is friendly to effort and honors the process of getting to a goal. It is crucial to foster such mindset beginning in early childhood – the period where mental and behavioural habits as well as learning attitudes are progressively taking shape.

An adult with a growth mindset is fuelled by need and inspired by lack. They see as Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla does, “Every big problem is a big opportunity.”

Entrepreneurship is another ground that could very well thrive on a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is aversed to risk. However, the full entrepreneurial capacity cannot be realized unless pushed over the edge, turned over and poked in all directions. This is the action of a growth mindset. It fuels business development and scales service excellence.

Proponents of this innovative mindset encourage educators, entrepreneurs, leaders and parents to value and support effort-making and to encourage each person to explore, expand and develop. They spread the belief that we are born with potentials, not necessarily inborn talents. 

Schools must become growth mindset environments to become a real training ground for life. Every field of venture must nurture a collaborative environment as a dynamic, and flexible way of engaging with the world. Let us focus the mind to break through barriers, cross boundaries and create breakthroughs for one and all.

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Latifa Al-Khalifa

Latifa is a Co-Founder of Clever Play, a creative learning space devoted to providing children with innovative and in-demand 21st century STEAM skill-building adventures. She is an avid reader and enjoys the outdoors, particularly hiking and kayaking.