No matter what field of work you're in, your mindset sets the foundation for how you work and how (or if) you succeed. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck identifies two main mindsets for how people cope with challenges: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Ultimately, which mindset you have will determine how far you go in your work, and in your life. Below you will learn to understand both mindsets and how to develop the one that will help you go farthest.
What is a Fixed Mindset?
If you have a fixed mindset, you essentially view yourself, your abilities and your talents, as things that are fixed. You cannot change certain things about yourself, and thus your opportunities for growth are limited. Criticism and failure are threats. If you're unable to meet a challenge, it says something about you and what you lack. However, this does not have to be true.
What is a Growth Mindset?
Conversely, if you have a growth mindset, you view yourself, your abilities and your talents, as always evolving. You can change things about yourself. There is always room to grow, and always opportunity to learn. Failure and criticism can still be difficult experiences, but ultimately are always helping you grow. If you're unable to meet a challenge, you ask "what I can learn from this?" Instead of letting it hold you back from moving forward.
Which Mindset Do You Have and Why Does it Matter?
It's most likely that we all have a bit of both mindsets, depending on the situation. However, it's helpful to determine which mindset you lean toward, and work on slowly adjusting your mindset toward growth. When you're assigned a project outside of your realm of expertise, is it the project that will determine how skilled and capable of success you are? Or is it an opportunity to learn something new, to see if you enjoy a different area of work? If your boss is not satisfied with how the project turns out, does it show that you just aren't right for this type of work, or does it show you what you can try differently next time to hopefully achieve a better result?
Pay attention to how you respond to a situation in the moment. When someone offers you constructive criticism, do you react defensively? When something does not go as planned, do you view it as a failure, or an opportunity to learn? Be gracious with yourself no matter the response. The next time you find yourself in a similar situation, try tweaking your mindset just a little in the direction of growth. Soon, these tweaks will become habit and you'll be on your way to opening up a world of possibility for yourself.
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