The One You Feed is a favorite podcast of mine, and even though this one with Carol Dweck isn’t of the best show’s I’ve listened to from this podcast, it is interesting. And since Carol Dweck’s thoughts on fixed vs growth mindset is the talk of the town at the moment, I figured maybe someone would benefit from listening to this interview with her.
I like the reasoning behind fixed and growth mindset, possibly because I can recognize my own journey from (mostly) one to (mostly) the other. Luckily my direction has been from fixed to growth. For me, that is a huge part of the reason why my inner dialogue has gone from harsh to gentle, now that I think of it.
What fixed vs growth mindset is? Well, in short, as I understand it, fixed mindset is based on the belief that I have a specific amount of talent and intelligence, that cannot grow and evolve. This means that there’s no real point to trying harder, because I’ve got a fixed amount to work with. Hence, perhaps I’d get stuck in ”I’m no good at maths” and would fail to see that I can get better at maths if I work at it. Fixed mindset is encouraged by praising the result, like ”Oh you are such a clever girl!”, ”You got a good grade on that test!” and such. Accompanying though of fixed mindset might be ”I suck at this, so there’s no point in trying, because I will never get better.”, ”I hate drawing because it never looks like I want it to.”.
Grown mindset on the other hand says that you can get better, at anything really, as long as you put some effort into it. The focus is more on the process than the result. Regardless of my starting point, if I apply myself to it, I will get better at it. In time, I might even achieve mastery, if I put in the hours. So accompanying thoughts might be ”I have no clue how to crack this code, but if I work at it, I could probably figure it out. Let’s get started!”. Growth mindset is encouraged by putting attention to the process, like ”I can see how you’ve really put in an effort here!”, ”I see how you used all those different colors of green to draw that tree. It really bring it to life.”.
Anyway. What I find most significant in this podcast is the way Carol Dweck stresses the risk of fixed vs mind growths becoming ”a thing”, especially in school circles. This I believe is definitely a risk, and I fear that’s where it will end up in Sweden. It’s easy to fall in the trap of ”methodizing” something like this. That would be very unfortunate. Because this is not a thing you do. It’s a way you are.
Now, I say mindset something I am, rather than something I do, but of course, I will act out of my being, so it’s not as easy as saying it’s only about being and not about doing. The feedback to others that I exemplify above is a form of doing. But the risk, that Carol Dweck and I share a concern about, if you try to Do this without Living it. The risk of trying to give kids/pupils a growth mindset, while being stuck in fixed for my own development…. I mean, you can see for yourself how weird that would be, right? I guarantee that kids – if you are teaching, or parenting etc – will pick up on the mixed signals you are sending out, and they will see right through you.
So the question for me, is how do I switch my internal beliefs about myself, from fixed, to growth? How to live a life more based on a growth mindset?