Do you feel as if you’re stuck the way you are or do you feel that you can grow? A book by a Stanford psychologist identifies a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.” Depending on your mindset, you can profoundly influence your development and happiness. We look at a Thinking Process Tool to support continuous growth.
Growth mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
Thanks to the delightful blog ‘Brainpickings‘ my attention was drawn to the work of Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck. At Intelligent Management, we would fully support her view that people have powerful beliefs that influence their lives. In her book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, Dweck puts forward the view that people with a “fixed mindset” make the assumption that character, intelligence and abilities are givens that we cannot change. Any degree of success (and presumably failure) reflects those fixed givens. A “growth mindset”, instead, seeks out challenges and takes failure in its stride as a stimulus for improvement.
Your choice of mindset has a profound influence on your behaviour and happiness. In Dweck’s words, “It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.” The fixed mindset seems to have clearly undesirable consequences: “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.” In contrast, the growth mindset creates opportunities: “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.”
From our work of twenty years of working with individuals and organizations, we would go so far as to say that both fixed and growth mindsets are intrinsic to human cognition. We have seen this in particular with our work with the Conflict Cloud – a thinking process tool developed by Israeli physicist, Eli Goldratt. Every conflict has two sides, and each side has a need. Generically, we always try to satisfy both a need for security, associated with our fears, and a need for growth, associated with our vision. The enormity of Goldratt’s contribution with this tool is to recognize that for any solution to be viable, we must acknowledge and recognize both of these needs.
Practising for growth
Using the conflict cloud on a regular basis is an exercise in challenging assumptions and mindsets. It helps individuals and organizations to surface what their limiting beliefs are, to examine them, and by doing so develop the ability to create new solutions which are often breakthroughs. It does so with full recognition of our intrinsic needs for both security and expansion. It takes practice and determination, but the rewards and the new horizons it creates are a testimony to our uniquely human ability to continuously evolve and improve. And yes, that’s a growth mindset!