Note: The updated article is at Growth Mindset.
Your mindset holds the key to realizing your potential.
Your mindset is your way of thinking, and your way of thinking can limit or empower you, in any number of ways.
In fact, according to Carol S. Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, mindset is the one big idea that helps explain the following:
- Why brains and talent don’t bring success
- How they can stand in the way of it
- Why praising brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but jeopardizes them
- How teaching a simple idea about the brain raises grades and productivity
- What all great CEOs, parents, teachers, athletes know
When Dweck was a young researcher, she was obsessed with understanding how people cope with failures, and she decided to study it by watching how students grapple with heard problems.
You’re Learning, Not Failing
One of Dweck’s key insights was that a certain kind of mindset could turn a failure into a gift.
“What did they know? They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual skills could be cultivated through effort. And that’s what they were doing – getting smarter. Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.”
Your Can Change Your IQ
Believe it or not, a big believer in the idea that you can use education and practice to fundamentally change your intelligence is Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test.
“Binet, a Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, designed this test to identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. Without denying individual differences in children’s intellects, he believed that education and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence.”
Methods Make the Difference
Here is a quote from one of Binet’s major books, Modern Ideas About Children:
"A few modern philosophers ... assert that an individual's intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism ... With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before."
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
The difference that makes the difference in success and achievement is your mindset. Specifically, a Growth Mindset is the key to unleashing and realizing your potential.
To fully appreciate what a Growth Mindset is, let’s contrast it by first understanding what a Fixed Mindset is.
According to Carol Dweck, a Fixed Mindset means that you fundamentally believe that intelligence and talent are fixed traits:
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”
In contrast, according to Dweck, a Growth Mindset means that you fundamentally believe that you can develop your brains and talent:
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”
If you want to improve your motivation, set yourself up for success, and achieve more in life, then adopt and build a growth mindset.
Here are a few articles to help you get started: