In this day and age, I think the “fixed” mindset is just not that viable. Technology moves too fast. It’s not even about adapting to change; adapting to change doesn’t necessarily mean embracing it. After all, many people can use a cell phone, but the portion who actually use it to its full capability, is probably a bit smaller. In higher ed, we see this quite a bit. Some new technology comes out and everybody is quick to point out its weaknesses, rather than look at its strengths. One of my professors graduate school said 2 things that stuck with me. He frequently railed and ranted “Why didn’t librarians create Yahoo?” (Good question, especially back when it was a directory of websites!) and secondly “If you don’t grow, you die” (a quote from American agricultural economist Theodore William Schultz). Of course we all die, but whether you choose to stagnant is up to you.
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. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.
I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . .
There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.
I’ve put this book on my reading list, but you can read more selections from it at the link below: