Do you believe that you were born with a certain level of intelligence, and that you can't do much to improve it? Your answer to this question can be a good indicator of whether you have a "growth" or a "fixed" mindset, a concept revealed by Carol Dweck, a famous psychology professor at Stanford University, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. A growth mindset is the belief that "brains and talent are just the starting point," according to Dweck.
If you think your intelligence, talents, and skills can't change much, you are in the "fixed mindset" camp. One big problem with this is that people with a fixed mindset tend to limit themselves to situations and tasks in which they feel confident but would feel insecure when compared to successful people.
Following Dweck's footsteps, psychologists have found that family, friends, school, and work can influence the development of a "growth" or a "fixed" mindset. This discovery has implications for how people achieve, suggesting that parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, and managers can all play a role in our mindset development.
Researchers compared the brains of people having a growth or a fixed mindset. Brain scans indicate that, after missing a question, the participants with a growth mindset were more interested in knowing the correct answer than those with a fixed mindset, who instead showed an emotional reaction due to their inability to find the right answer.
Psychologists' findings suggest that our social environment can have a significant impact on the evolution of our mindset. A common mistake parents, educators, and managers make is to focus on specific strengths, easily asserting misleading and counterproductive statements like: "You're good at languages, but you're bad at math." This implies you can only shine in a specific area, which is certainly not an incentive for learning, development, and high performance. In reality, everyone can be really good at anything, given the necessary time and effort to be so.
Picture: Profile portrait of a child - showing the different inner areas of the brain (ChildUp & DALL-E - 2023)