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Adele on mindset change

Are you Fixed or Growth?

· Growth,Business,Mindset

On Sunday mornings I wake up and, like it often happens, pick my phone up to see what the world is up to, to be entertained and find new ideas…. this Sunday I came across an article by psychologist Carol Dweck on mindset that made me think and prompted me to discuss it with you.

What coach doesn’t talk about mindset? you can read lots about it, but I've not come across anything like this before.

Dweck talks about personal beliefs and how the most basic ones we have about ourselves can have a massive impact in every aspect of our lives.

Our personality and how we perceive ourselves in particular, can impact how we behave.

She distinguishes between fixed and growth mindsets.

A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence and creative abilities are static and success is based on ‘talent’ we get given from birth and that we need to use at its best, striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs to maintain the sense of being skilled and smart.

All of you who have grown up Catholic like me will know exactly what I’m talking about, the idea that you’re given a talent and you have to constantly prove that you’re making the most of it, doesn’t allow for failure.

Some people, like me, had to move far away (in my case literally) from this mentality to really cultivate what Dweck calls the “growth mindset” which thrives on challenges, sees failure as a way to grow and learn and ultimately affects happiness. This mindset creates a passion for learning and ‘continuous improvement’

In her book Dweck writes:

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.


I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves — in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . .

There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience

So how do we judge success and failure? how do we grow businesses and what makes us accept what we get?

I was with a client last week, he likes to be challenged, has developed a good solid business in his market, a successful, reputable company. He could be happy and satisfied, in a fixed mindset craving success and building on what he has, but this is not enough anymore, he wants to feel challenged and stretched so he’s entering a new, bigger market where he can learn new things, position his company differently and compete on a different level.

Will this prove his success? he doesn’t know yet and he’s not doing it to validate his abilities, but to learn new skills, develop and grow… in true growth mindset.

Here is how Dweck explains it

[…] When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world — the world of fixed traits — success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other — the world of changing qualities — it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.

In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.

In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.

[…] The mindsets change what people strive for and what they see as success. . . they change the definition, significance, and impact of failure. . . they change the deepest meaning of effort.

Dweck's research goes on to explain how we can help kids develop a healthier mindset and how the risks of a fixed mindset is not only a different perception of failure and an overall static lifestyle, but also lack of fun, being discouraged by their own success or failure mindset and even lying about their results to look more successful.

This illustrate a key difference between the 2 mindsets:

for those with a growth one, “personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best,” whereas for those with a fixed one, “success is about establishing their superiority, pure and simple. Being that somebody who is worthier than the nobodies.” For the latter, setbacks are a sentence and a label. For the former, they’re motivating, informative input — a wakeup call.

And if all of this wasn't enough, a major difference between fixed and growth mindset is not just in business or education but in love. 

Fuelled by Disney and all other fairytales, fixed mindset people expect their partner to make them feel perfect all the time and put them on a pedestal, looking for that ‘happy ever after’. Everything happens automatically and there’s no effort or work involved, if it doesn’t work it wasn't perfect and therefore needs changing … on with the new partner


One problem is that people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically. It’s not that the partners will work to help each other solve their problems or gain skills. It’s that this will magically occur through their love, sort of the way it happened to Sleeping Beauty, whose coma was cured by her prince’s kiss, or to Cinderella, whose miserable life was suddenly transformed by her prince.

People with a growth mindset on the other hand, see their partner as somebody with flaws and different from them and giving them their chance to improve, learn from the other person.

Moving from a fixed to a growth mindset means getting out of constant judging and evaluation which defines whether you’re a good person or successful and links your internal value and worth to your achievements. It means moving to a mindset where you are constantly trying to learn new things and make yourself a better person than you were yesterday, building into something new.

All successful entrepreneurs are the ones who failed and learned from it, made a success of changing, learning from experience, life and other people… in a constant search for improvement.

And it doesn’t matter how you grew up and what they told you when you were a kid, there’s alway a good time to change your mindset …. it might take work and effort, and sometimes physical distance from the people who pushed you in such a mindset, but it’s possible… so … what mindset do you want to have? and what can you do to change it?

If you are interested in Carol Dweck's book here is the Amazon link

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