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It wasn’t that long ago when I was sitting in a personal growth seminar, answering questions about myself to determine if I have a fixed or growth mindset. Not being completely familiar with the terms, I answered the questions.
- Do you measure yourself by failures rather than successes?
- Do you think people are judges, not allies?
- Are you comforted by believing there permanent limits to your abilities?
- Yes. Yes. Yes.
Well these were all answers to the fixed mindset questions. Once I figured out that a fixed mindset wasn’t the “good one,” I was embarrassed to admit that I had so many of those qualities.
What Are The Fixed And Growth Mindsets?
People with a Fixed Mindset believe they are born with innate talents or intelligence, and they thrive off of proving those talents rather than continuing to develop them or even developing new talents for fear of failure. They also believe that effort is a weakness because if you are born with talent, you don’t need to work hard.
People with a Growth Mindset believe that no matter what qualities they have naturally, they can do anything with effort and perseverance. They don’t quit when things get hard, and they don’t stop trying after they’ve failed and say “I’m just not the type of person that is good at this.” They thrive on challenges and commend efforts rather than results.
This was very interesting. By my results, I was a fixed mindset person. This growth seminar was my first exposure to the 2 types of mindset, and I knew it was something I wanted to study more, especially as it related to how to bring more success to my budding beauty business. But as most things, I got busy and didn’t think much about it.
Coincidentally (or maybe not), a couple months after this seminar, my husband and I were arguing about something – I can’t remember what – and he accused me of having a fixed mindset. I told him that I did not have a fixed mindset and yelled, “That’s just who I am!” (oh the irony, now that I know what the fixed mindset is). Then, he did something very brave. He bought me the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. OOH he was playing with fire. Giving his fixed mindset wife a book about how she can change her mindset was a bold and risky move. Part of me was totally pissed, but part of me, thinking back to this growth seminar, was kinda secretly interested in learning more about mindset and seeing if I could understand some of my behaviors.
And HOLY MOLY, did I understand after reading this book. It was like Dweck had used me and my entire childhood and adult life as her subject for her studies. Nearly every page resonated with me.
- If I get called on and don’t know the answer, I freak out for fear of being wrong.
- I am embarrassed about any mistake I make.
- I am afraid to try something if I’m not sure it will be a success.
- I feel threatened when criticized.
How I Got This Mindset
So where did this all come from? Well as a kid, I was good in school. I didn’t have to try hard and I got good grades. I took up horseback riding and was immediately amazing at it. I was great at gymnastics and loved it. I tried basketball and quit because I was afraid the team would rely on me to make a basket, and I’d miss and be so embarrassed. I sucked at soccer, so I quit. I never tried playing an instrument because I thought I just wasn’t artistic enough. So my life’s mantra became “Stick with what you’re good at, and you’ll go far.”
Well as I became an adult, I realized that that mantra was not serving me so well. I wasn’t the smartest or best at the office and felt defensive when someone questioned my work; I was embarrassed to let even my closest friends know my mistakes for fear of judgment; I had more than a few failed romantic relationships. And of course in the fixed mindset, I just thought everyone else was wrong. Anyone else feel like this??
How Can Understanding Mindset Help In Life?
Dweck’s Mindset was a gift that came at the right time. I’m always reading self-improvement books to try to identify additional things I can do in my personal life and business in order to excel, but what I wasn’t looking for was how to change my entire mindset. This book was a wake up call. Finally I felt that I understood myself…even though I didn’t know at the time that there was anything I needed to understand. The most positive thing about reading this book, however, was that now I knew that mindset can be changed. Hallelujah! I now know how to identify when I’m falling into the fixed mindset trap, and what to do to pull myself out, (which you can read more about in the book).
The experience of learning about mindset has been such a revelation to me because I had no idea the value that would come from it. Having a fixed mindset all my life and not knowing I could change it (or that I needed to), I’ve realized has held me back for SO long. I had convinced myself that I was good at what I was good at, and I was just not born with some talents. And this has been hugely limiting even up until a few months ago.
My beauty business is the first thing that I’ve done that wasn’t really in my wheelhouse. I get excited over skincare and helping women have more confidence, but I have no experience in sales, and I’m totally introverted. So that was strange for me. Normally, if I don’t have the qualities for something, I’d say, “It just isn’t for me.” So this was new territory. I realized the limitations that put on me and the potential I was wasting. And then I realized there are probably a lot of other people who think and same way I do.
I started this blog because I love my business, and have honestly surprised myself with what I’ve done with it just by changing my mindset. I know there are so many other women like me who yearn to do something bigger with their lives but may need a mental jumpstart to get over those fixed mindset limitations. I want to use this forum to share my learnings and experiences, success tips, entrepreneurial stories and help others do what I do a lot easier than I did it. I started this business because I needed a change from my corporate 9-5, but I’m good at this business because I changed my mindset.
I may not be immediately great at everything I try now, but I don’t quit and don’t see setbacks as failures anymore. And it’s a great place to be in my life. Whether you have a fixed or growth mindset, or maybe you don’t know yet, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It totally changed my life!