Why does intelligent work yield result for some but doesn’t for others? Why does success seem distant for some, yet reachable for others?
Studying the lives of great women and men all around the globe, in centuries gone past, and in this present age, several factors have been attributed to their greatness and success. Multiple factors accrue together to birth success and numerous accomplishments But then, surprisingly something seemed to stand out of it all. It is a lifeline that does concern every other aspect of life. It is a major determinant if one would indeed make a meaningful contribution to the world. It is none other than the mindset of a man. What is mindset? And why does it seem to have a stronghold on one’s learning and every other area of one’s life? Let’s move on.
Numerous psychologists and neurologists have studied the networking of the brain and human behaviour to understand what mindset entails. Mindset is a person’s way of thinking; a person’s set of beliefs, firmly ingrained in their subconscious mind as well as the collections of thoughts that dictate his line of reasoning. It is believed and statistically proven that one’s mindset influences one’s habits, attitude, and ultimately one’s outlook on life.
Now, there are several types of mindsets depending on the phase of life being tackled. There’s the possibility mindset, Abundance mindset, Scarcity Mindset, and many others. But a school of thought led by Carol Dweck shows that people can be categorized into two basic mindsets. They are the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset. As humans, our disposition towards learning is defined by the kind of mindset that we possess. Our reactions to situations and happenstances around us are dependent on our existing mindset.
Now, the question is how are these mindsets acquired? Are mindsets programmed from inception just like DNAs? Is it possible to change mindsets? These are peculiar questions to be answered in subsequent paragraphs.
The stage where mindsets are developed is during early childhood, before the age of nine according to Vishen Lakhiani. Carol Dweck believes that the two sets of mindsets obtainable are developed by “praise” and “labelling”. That is; the compliments a child receives when he performs a task, the rebuke or accolades that are given, and the positive affirmations or abusive insults administered serve to create belief systems in the child’s subconscious. For instance, a child who is continuously being told to stop acting foolishly will most likely grow up to think he is foolish. Likewise, students who are commended by their teachers for doing well in their evaluation tests and encouraged to do more will become confident in solving more difficult problems. It’s a simple give-and-take process. Whatever is input in the early stages of a child’s life forms a lens through which he views the world. It influences his mindset. It reflects in his attitude. It dominates his thoughts and most especially, controls the ethics of his life.
It is expedient to fully understand how these two different mindsets work so that their identification and restructuring won’t be so difficult. First to be understood is the Fixed Mindset. A person with a fixed mindset tends to believe that talents and abilities are fixed. They do not believe in the power of effort as a necessity for accomplishments. Instead, they attribute success to being fixed and final. Rather than striving for improvement in an endeavour, people with a fixed mindset attribute success to innate abilities which cannot be tweaked or gained. Their life disposition is either you-can or you-cannot. If you need to work hard at it, it’s most likely not meant for you. For instance, they strongly believe that being a successful football player stems from being talented; you either are or you aren’t. Another distinctive characteristic of fixed-minded people is that they view obstacles as stumbling blocks, never really wanting to try.
People with the growth mindset, which is the better of the two, are better suited to adaptation and flexibility. They know that consistent efforts in an endeavour will yield massive results whether you are talented or not. They are critical thinkers who, despite all odds, are willing to learn new things, stretch to new horizons, and adapt to difficult situations. They view challenges as opportunities to become better, the difficult days as part of the journey to getting successful, and problems as seasonal trials to getting smarter. They are dedicated to growth, constantly evolving and developing their “talents”, abilities, and skills. It is possible to get past all forms of obstacles to accomplishing one’s dreams through persistence and effort.
The different characteristics of these two mindsets affect their receptiveness to knowledge. People with fixed mindsets are often interested in getting very high grades without necessarily putting in the effort needed. When they get low grades, they are more likely to give up on studying a specific course by covering up with the unacceptable excuse of not having the talents. Growth-minded people, on the other hand, learn from their mistakes after having low grades and strive to get better.
Knowing which kind of mindset you have developed over the years is expedient. Now, seeking clarity is one thing, but making corrections as much as you can is another. Hopping into the growth mindset while possessing the fixed mindset is a gradual process. It requires continuous effort which is a feature of the growth mindset as well. One must be able to develop a “can-do” and “can-try” mentality. All forms of negativity in terms of attaining success and the accomplishments of goals must be down-trodden. Putting in maximum effort and not merely relying on luck, chance or in-built potentials alone must be highly prioritized.
Regardless of whatever stage, form, conditions or circumstances a person might be surrounded with, having a growth mindset puts one in a favourable position to achieve success. The growth mindset influences a man’s thoughts, actions, and life.
Written by Victoria Idowu
The Editorial Team, God is Love Educational Foundation