What impact would a growth vs fixed mindset have on your life and business?
If you’re doing everything you can with respect to your business but are still struggling to achieve your goals and dreams, take a look at your mindset. Where do you stand when it comes to a growth vs fixed mindset? Have you ever considered the possibility that your mindset could be what’s holding you back?
In my last blog, Does Visualizing Success Actually Fuel Success?, I shared some of the research behind visualization and the impact it can have on performance and achieving goals. As I wrote in that blog, visualization is not just some crazy, new-age theory. There’s science and research to back up the value of visualizing success.
In fact, everything I read supported the idea that our minds play an important role in how our lives go. So, when I decided to write this blog on growth vs fixed mindset, I went looking for even more proof of how powerful our minds are.
In my search, I came across a TEDx talk by Dr. Alia Crum, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. It’s fascinating stuff!
In her talk, Dr. Crum speaks of several studies where our perception of a situation was proven to affect measurable responses in our body systems. In other words, what we believe and what we think can actually cause changes in our body’s response.
In one study, Dr. Crum conducted an experiment where study subjects were given a milkshake. They were told the shake was guilt-free – containing no added sugar, no fat, and only 140 calories. After the test subjects consumed that “healthy” shake, the researchers measured their Ghrelin levels – a hormone that signals hunger satisfaction in the body. Ghrelin levels dropped only slightly.
The subjects then came in two weeks later and were given another milkshake. This time, participants were told the shake contained a whopping 30g of fat, 56g of sugar and 620 calories. After consuming the second milkshake, the Ghrelin levels of participants dropped about 3x more than before, which is the response experts would expect from a higher calorie “treat.”
The catch, however, according to Dr. Crum, was that participants were only told that the second shake was the higher calorie treat. It was actually the same shake they had been given the first time. The thing that was different was their brain’s perception of what was given. The participants saw the second shake as being more satisfying, they believed they were drinking the higher-calorie shake, and their Ghrelin levels dropped to reflect that perception.
Dr. Crum’s work highlights the phenomenal power of our minds – even over the systems in our bodies. That’s powerful stuff!
So, here’s a question for you. If our brains have the power to actually promote muscle memory and affect outcomes in goal-setting, as I discussed in my last blog, and if our minds can trick our bodies into responding to just our perception of something, is it possible that same science applies to the limiting beliefs of a fixed mindset hindering success or that adopting a growth mindset can fuel success?
Why wouldn’t we use that to our advantage when it comes to developing a mindset that promotes success?
Growth vs Fixed Mindset
I’ve talked about growth vs fixed mindset at speaking engagements and with my clients for years. And in my blog, Are You Sabotaging Your Own Success?, I wrote about how an unconscious mindset of limiting beliefs can cause us to get in our own way – often without even realizing we’re doing it!
So, here’s the basic description as defined by Carol Dweck, the Stanford University psychologist who identified and developed the concept of the two core mindsets.
The belief that intelligence is static.
This leads to a desire to appear smart and a tendency to…
- Avoid challenges
- Give up easily
- See effort as fruitless or worse
- Ignore useful, negative feedback
- Feel threatened by the success of others
Dweck also points out that those with a fixed mindset often achieve less than their full potential.
The fixed mindset asks, “Are you sure you can do it? What if it’s not perfect?” This may cause you to shrink away from a new challenge because you’re afraid of failing or looking bad.
The belief that intelligence can be developed.
This leads to a desire to learn and a tendency to…
- Embrace challenges
- Persist in the face of setbacks
- See effort as a path to mastery
- Learn from criticism
- Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others
For the growth mindset, Dweck asserts that adopting it will result in ever-higher levels of achievement. The growth mindset says, “I may not know exactly how to do this, but I am capable of learning what I need to learn and will figure it out. It may not be perfect, and I might even fail, but I will give it my best effort and learn something either way.”
Do you see yourself in either of those descriptions?
Maybe you see a little of yourself in both. Some believe that you’re either one or the other, but that isn’t necessarily true. It’s possible you see a little of both in yourself, depending on a given situation.
For example, you might see effort as a path to mastery and believe you are capable of learning new things, but become defensive when faced with criticism. This, unfortunately, causes you to shrink away from constructive criticism that could help you improve.
Or you might embrace and see your challenges as an opportunity to grow, but still secretly envy others who seem to have it easier than you do. This can create a negative outlook and cause you to feel defeated. And the perception that others have it easier probably isn’t even true! We don’t always see the truth of what’s going on with others. We see what they let us see.
You get the point. I would just encourage you to give some thought to where you stand in terms of growth vs fixed mindset. Try to be as honest as possible. It’s through understanding and awareness that we gain the power to change.
Shifting to a Growth Mindset
Once you understand where you’re at, the power of a growth mindset is within your grasp.
How you interpret setbacks, challenges and criticism is a choice. Your choice. You can choose to welcome them with the goal of allowing them to make you better. Or you can choose to curl back into your comfort zone, not take risks, and try to save face with possible critics – including yourself.
But where does that leave you in the end? Most likely with regrets and stuck in a place that is less than what you hoped for – especially in business.
According to Dweck, confidence comes from doing – even if the doing initially produces a less than desired result.
Dweck’s research has shown that every time we push out of our comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in our brains can form new and stronger connections. We learn to be more confident problem solvers. And over time, we can actually get smarter. There’s science backing up the power of mindset too!
So, what’s the first step to shifting to a growth mindset?
The first step is to acknowledge that you have a fixed mindset (or in what areas you have a fixed mindset) and learn to recognize it when that little voice inside starts telling you that you can’t do something.
Most successful people experience a certain level of doubt or fail somewhere along the way to success. The difference is that they don’t let that doubt, or those setbacks, stop them in their tracks. They persist and push right on through those limiting beliefs.
When you catch yourself listening to those limiting beliefs, consciously turn it around. Reframe those thoughts to reflect a growth mindset and see what happens.
- Learn or try something new, even if your first thought is that you’re afraid you’ll fail.
- Embrace challenges as the opportunities and learning experiences they are.
- Make a decision to graciously accept and give some thought to criticism/feedback and see it as a way to improve, rather than validation that you’re not good enough.
- Celebrate your successes and the successes of others.
These shifts in mindset may take some time, practice, and conscious effort. After all, chances are you may have been stuck in fixed-mindset behavior patterns for a long time. But it’s well worth the effort. It can really change the game for you and your business.
So, with what you know now, let me ask my first question again…
What impact could having a growth vs fixed mindset have on your life and business?
Wouldn’t you like to harness that proven power of your mind and find out?