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Fixed vs. growth mindset: Which brings success?

| | Vistage Worldwide

Originally published on Vistage Research Center.

Take the advice of research psychologist Dr. Eve Meceda—it’s healthier for your personal life and your business to adopt a growth mindset.

The concept of fixed versus growth mindset was first introduced by Professor Carol S. Dweck, a pioneering researcher at Stanford University, in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dr. Meceda is an advocate for this research and educates business executives on the power of mindset to make or break personal performance and business results.

What is a growth mindset?

The research indicates that growth mindset is one of the biggest drivers of success and performance—it is the belief that intelligence and skills are largely the results of learning and effort. People with this mindset are focused on personal development—their approach is to become better and achieve their goals through hard work and gaining new knowledge. People who have a growth mindset see obstacles as temporary. They are creative about ways to overcome the obstacle and are more likely to develop their capabilities and achieve better performance.

What is a fixed mindset?

Having a fixed mindset would have you believe that people either have certain abilities or they don’t. How people end up is a matter of what cards they were dealt when they were born, and there’s not much one can do about it. A fixed mindset supports the belief that people have innate talents and that these talents are set in stone. People who lean toward a fixed mindset tend to have a more difficult time rebounding from setbacks, and they believe that failure is the result of the limit of their abilities.

Which mindset is right?

Growth mindset is desirable because individuals who believe they have the ability to surpass their current skill level often do. They believe that it’s not as important how you started off, it’s how you finish that matters.

Fixed mindset ‘is the less helpful mindset,’ says Dr. Meceda. ‘Unfortunately, it turns out that most of us spend most our time in a fixed mindset.’ The result of this mindset is often feeling negative emotions—frustration, anger, or resentment toward those perceived as more successful.

How mindset affects performance in the office

There are different performance curves for employees with fixed and growth mindsets.

Employees with a growth mindset enjoy challenge, collaboration with others, and feedback that points out how they can grow. They work hard to achieve results and often make the effort to learn more and be better at what they do.

‘A growth mindset enables a vastly higher performing organisation,’ says Dr. Meceda. People who have learned to live with a growth mindset don’t often worry about failure and have the grit to bounce back when they do fail.

Employees with fixed mindset, ‘tend to figure out what they’re naturally good at, improve to a point, then get scared of failure and plateau,’ says Dr. Meceda. People with this mindset avoid challenge, feedback, and make more effort to prove they are good at what they do. A fixed mindset in employees and leaders can lead to a slow-growth or stagnant business.

Two ways that business leaders can begin to shift their organisations from fixed to growth mindset include:

Provide fair and accurate informal feedback

Destigmatize the right kind of risk and failure

Each of these tactics can contribute to a work environment that encourages growth mindset in employees.

Choose your mindset wisely

Once you are aware of mindset, you want to choose carefully. Will you approach each day with a fixed mindset, avoiding opportunities to become the best version of yourself? Or will you allow a growth mindset to take you to new heights in your personal development and in your business? When we choose a growth mindset for ourselves, we also have the ability to share it with others. Dr. Meceda believes this is an admirable goal.

‘Helping another person live the rest of their life in a growth mindset space is one of the greatest gifts you can give another human being.’

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