Recently I've been reading the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and it's really making me think.
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. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
Of course when I read those descriptions I think "Well I'm clearly operating with a growth mindset" since I know that any skill can be developed and if you work hard at something you can do amazing things. However as I go through the book and she goes over examples of people in similar situations where one is operating with a fixed mindset and the other with a growth mindset I'm starting to wonder if I may be subconsciously operating within the fixed mindset.
One part that really resonated with me when when they mentioned that someone with the fixed mindset "depended too much on his talent instead of hard work" and I realized that's like me. I haven't had to challenge myself for a long time and when faced with something difficult, I frequently procrastinate, preferring to work on projects that come easily to me. Heck, even when I play video games I don't last very long before I go looking for the walk-through.
Thankfully I don't show all the negative traits of the fixed-minded people in the book. Many of them are very defensive and arrogant, where I'm typically self-deprecating. But even my self-deprecating attitude can be linked to the fixed mindset. If I'm self deprecating and people don't expect much from me then when I do something well they are impressed.
So one of my goals moving forward will be to see what I can do to transition to a more growth oriented mindset. I should not shy away from things that are challenging and I shouldn't be afraid to put myself out there. It was a good thing for me when I shipped my TwitOPML app, everybody seemed really happy with it. Now I should try to one-up myself and ship something more challenging.
The first step in solving a problem is to identify the problem. I've done that, now I have to do something about it.
Published May 9, 2011