You cannot change who you are. The abilities you are born with are the abilities you have your entire life.
That is what most people think.
And they are wrong.
These people’s mindset holds them back from growing in all aspects of their life. They create a belief that their habits and abilities cannot be controlled.
It is just who they are.
With that belief comes helplessness and despair. They feel enslaved by their habits.
This creates what Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: How we can Learn to Fulfil our Potential, calls a fixed mindset.
Having a fixed mindset means you believe that things in life are immovable, unchangeable. A person with the fixed mindset believes that they are born the way they are and they can’t change it.
You will never be good enough for yourself if you have a fixed mindset.
This is where the feeling of helplessness stems from. How can someone feel empowered if they think they can’t change the way they are? Having this fixed mindset can ruin their life. It prevents them from seeking change, from trying new things.
This prevents the business owner from reinventing her business or working on a weakness that will greatly improve her business. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.
Many people go their entire lives living with this self-sustaining hell they have put themselves in; using their fixed mindset to think they’re not good enough, and never will be because they can’t change. This results in worse and worse habits which only strengthens these fixed mindsets. It is a vicious cycle, a terrible feedback loop.
On the other hand, there are others who feel empowered by their mindset. They know they can change things in their life. That the cure to not being smart enough is to study harder or get better mentors. These people do not allow circumstance to dictate their life.
These people have a growth mindset.
If the fixed mindset is what strengthens limiting beliefs and negative habits, the growth mindset is what destroys limiting beliefs and allows a person to live the life they want.
But how do you break your fixed mindset and develop a growth mindset?
Become aware of the areas in your life you have a fixed mindset.
Have you ever said, “I can’t dance” or “I’m not smart enough.”
Then you may have a fixed mindset in those areas. Being aware of where you have a fixed mindset is the most important step in breaking this mindset. Once you are aware, you can start to reprogram your mind.
Stop praising your ability and start praising effort.
Ability praise is when you praise someone for their talent, characteristics, or their ability. Comments like “You are so smart” or “You are a natural swimmer!” are ability praises
While well intentioned, Ability praise pushes people toward a fixed mindset because from that moment on, they are working to prove that judgment right over developing themselves.
Ability praise makes the person put pressure on their talent, ability, and success.
If people tell a person they are so smart, they will get discouraged when they are struggling with a concept. “A smart person would be able to naturally get this and not have to work for it.”
This creates the fixed mindset.
Effort praise, on the other hand, pushes toward growth mindset.
Effort praise is when you give positive feedback for taking initiative, seeing a difficult task through, for struggling and learning something new, for being undaunted by a setback, or by taking and learning from criticism.
Don’t protect your failures, learn from them.
It is easy to say, “Oh well I’m just not good enough, that’s why I didn’t win that.”
It’s harder to say, “I didn’t put in the time and effort to win. If I want to win in the future I will have to learn more and work harder.”
We too often don’t want to admit that we didn’t do something, so we claim that we are not something.
One is in our control, the other isn’t.
But this constant “protection” strengthens the fixed mindset.
In order to foster the growth mindset, we need to empathetically allow ourselves to learn from and face our failures.
Reflect, celebrate, and focus on continual growth.
Small wins and small growth, over time, leads to major success.
“Success isn’t about greatness, it’s about consistency. Consistent hard work gains success.” – Dwayne The Rock Johnson
When you are aware of your growth, no matter how small, it further cements the growth mindset.
This can be very hard when you have your mind set on major goals, but it is vital to continually reflect on small wins and continual growth. This creates momentum for you to keep going.
The fixed mindset destroys dreams and renders people helpless (a self-fulfilled prophecy.)
If you want to live your best life and be fulfilled in this world, develop a growth mindset.
Then you can develop that mindset in others.
A growth mindset is the best gift you can give to not only yourself, but to everyone around you.
So stay vigilant about where you have a fixed mindset.
Praise your effort over your ability.
Stop protecting your failures.
Celebrate the small improvements.
You have the power to take control of your life, to improve, to grow, to change.
You just have to believe you can.
Where will you grow today?
Want to change your mindset?
Check out my book, Lose the Limits, to break your limiting beliefs and become a more productive you.