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Do You Have a Growth Mindset?


It’s not easy to deal with interview rejections, especially after having had 11, without a job offer. It’s not easy to function when the promotion you had in mind did not materialize. It’s not easy to see the light when you are in the doldrums, and conversations become littered with self-limiting declarations such as, “What’s wrong with me…?… I will never… I should have…”.

Renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has done a lot of research on people’s mindsets: how they see themselves either limited by their circumstances (fixed mindset), or having the ability to grow regardless of their circumstances (growth mindset). I first became aware of her work while completing the CELDC (Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach) program, and learning strategies on how to identify and coach clients who were stuck in a fixed mindset.

Dr. Dweck describes both mindsets as follows:

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

Here is my question: which mindset do you have? Do you have a fixed mindset that tells you where you are today is where you will always be? Do you subscribe to the notion that “it is what it is; this is my destiny and things won’t get any better”? Or, do you have a growth mindset? One that tells you that today is the beginning, not the end; that things can and will get better; that if you commit, persevere and follow through, you will grow and get to where you need to go.



The latter mindset is a better choice. There are no limits to your capabilities. Today’s disappointments are just temporary setbacks allowing you to retool and get back in the race. While I am not trivializing anyone’s situation, especially as I have been on both sides of this issue, I know it feels much better to be in growth mindset where possibilities exist; where we can jump over barriers and bounce back even when things didn’t go as planned.

We are not all ‘Positive Pollyannas’, being blindly optimistic. We are allowed to have a pity party now and again, but there comes a time when the pity party has to end and we put our minds to work. Do we want to stagnate or do we want to grow? Are we going to continue staring at the closed door of lost opportunity or do we embrace the small window that has just opened up for us? As Dr. Dweck rightly said, “You are in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way.”

Try this short quiz from Dr. Dweck to help you determine your mindset: Fixed versus Growth Mindset.