“Our mindset is not a minor personality quirk. It creates our whole mental world. It explains how we become optimistic or pessimistic. It shapes our goals, our attitude toward work and relationships, and how we raise our kids, ultimately predicting whether or not we will fulfill our potential”—Dr. Carol Dweck, from her book Mindset
While reading Mindset I have been impressed with applications of what Dr. Dweck calls the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset to our work as parents and grandparents. The fundamental difference between the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset lies in our attitude towards our natural abilities and intelligence.
Individuals with a Fixed Mindset believe that our abilities are carved in stone.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, is based on the belief that our basic qualities are cultivated through effort. If you have a growth mindset you acknowledge that people differ dramatically in their initial talents, aptitudes, interests and temperaments, but you recognize that everyone of us can change and grow through application and experience.
As a society today we seem to value natural, effortless accomplishment over achievement through grit and sheer effort. However, in Howard Gardner's book Extraordinary Minds he concludes that exceptional individuals have a "special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses."
Alfred Binet, the Frenchman who is considered the father of the IQ test, remarked: "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." And, Robert Sternberg, another guru of intelligence theory, asserts that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise "is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement."
A growth mindset isn't built on the premise that everyone, with just the proper doses of persistence and opportunity, can become an Einstein or Beethoven. But rather, as Dr. Dweck points out, each individual's "true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it's impossible to forsee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil and training.”
What are the characteristics and behaviors which you would expect to see from a child who has embraced a Growth Mindset?
Why is it so important parents correct the influence of a Fixed Mindset before it becomes habitual thinking with our children?
“This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing; not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be but we are growing towards it. The process is not yet finished it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not gleam in glory, but all is being purified”—Martin Luther King Jr.