Can people really change?
Or are we stuck with our innate abilities (or lack thereof)?
These are questions which have intrigued psychologist Carol S. Dweck since roughly 1964, when she was an undergraduate student at Barnard College.
Now the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Dweck is known for her work on the mindset psychological trait.
She graduated from Barnard in 1967 and earned a PhD from Yale University in 1972. She has taught at Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of Illinois before joining the Stanford faculty in 2004.
Following numerous studies over the decades, Carol discovered that people of all ages carry around in their minds private theories about how the world works.
These points of view are conscious in that if Carol asks you questions about them, you have a ready answer.
However, you may not be aware of these points of view until you’re asked.
One such theory centers around intelligence.
Before going any further, let’s define the term:
intelligence (noun): the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills; derivation: late Middle English: via Old French from Latin intelligentia, from intelligere ‘understand’.
To assess a person’s theory of intelligence, she devised four statements. Read them now and consider how much you agree or disagree with each:
(1) YOUR INTELLIGENCE IS SOMETHING VERY BASIC ABOUT YOU THAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE VERY MUCH.
(2) YOU CAN LEARN NEW THINGS, BUT YOU CAN’T REALLY CHANGE HOW INTELLIGENT YOU ARE.
(3) NO MATTER HOW MUCH INTELLIGENCE YOU HAVE, YOU CAN ALWAYS CHANGE QUITE A BIT.
(4) YOU CAN ALWAYS SUBSTANTIALLY CHANGE HOW INTELLIGENT YOU ARE.
If you found yourself nodding affirmatively to the first two statements but shaking your head in disagreement with the last two, then Carol would say that you have more of a fixed mindset.
If you experienced the opposite reaction, then Carol would say you tend toward a growth mindset.
(I don’t know about you, but the morning following numerous college fraternity parties, replete with grain alcohol-spiked punch, left me firm in my conviction that my intelligence had significantly decreased over the previous 12-hour period. Conversely, following my first tremendously successful online affiliate marketing campaign many years ago, I realized that my intelligence had substantially increased!)
It might help to think of a growth mindset in this way:
Some of us believe, deep down, that people really can change. These growth-oriented people assume that it’s possible, for example, to get smarter if you’re given the right opportunities and support and if you try hard enough and if you can believe you can do it.
On the other hand, some people think you can learn skills, like how to ride a bike or build an online sales funnel, but your capacity to learn skills — your talent — can’t be trained.
The problem with holding the latter fixed-mindset view — and many people who consider themselves talented do — is that no road is without its bumps. Eventually you’re going to hit one. At that point, having a fixed mindset becomes a tremendous liability. This is where a rejection letter, a disappointing progress review at work, less-than-desirable results from a Facebook Ads campaign, or any other setback, can derail you.
With a fixed mindset, you’re likely to interpret these setbacks as evidence that, after all, you don’t have “what it takes”, you don’t have “the right stuff” — you’re simply not good enough.
With a growth mindset, you believe you can learn to do better.
With a growth mindset, you’re more likely to do well in school, enjoy better emotional and physical health and have stronger, more positive social relationships with other people.
It is my considered opinion that by modeling a growth mindset — demonstrating by our actions that we truly believe we, and those around us, can learn to learn — one can overcome the mental restraints of a fixed mindset, realize their true potential in life & in business and help others to reach their potential too!
This is what I wish for you and those who will soon be joining your business!
And if you derived any measure of value from the foregoing, I’d LOVE to read your comments below.
Yours in success,
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth