I’ve been thinking about the importance of mindset lately. Not only did it come up for me, personally, just last night, it’s been a recent issue with various friends and family members.
Mindset is one’s mental attitude or state of mind. It’s a hot topic these days, specifically the difference between “growth” and “fixed” mindsets in children. These two terms were coined by Dr. Carol Dweck to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. With a growth mindset, people understand effort is necessary to become better at something; whereas the fixed mindset is one in which people believe they are born with certain innate skills and abilities.
Many articles highlight various methods in which we as parents can instill a growth mindset in our children. While I subscribe to the benefits of a growth mindset and do my best to instill that attitude in my daughter, I often wonder about us parents. What mindsets do we have and how does that translate to our children? What if we try to instill a growth mindset in our children, all the while exhibiting a fixed mindset ourselves?
Regardless of our children, how does the mindset influence our own daily lives? Dr. Dweck published an article last year in the Harvard Business Review that I found fascinating. She states that many major companies are using the “growth mindset” as a buzzword, but lack a clear understanding of what it really means. She clarifies that we’re not one or the other, rather a mix of both growth and fixed mindsets. Specifically, she mentions that we all have fixed-mindset triggers that can creep up, making us feel insecure, defensive, and more when we face challenges.
So, how does one go about shifting a mindset? The first step is realizing that it takes time. It requires practice. The next step is to BE CONSCIOUS! Yes! We must try our best to catch ourselves in each moment that we’re telling ourselves we suck, that we can’t do it, or that we’re not cut out for the task at hand. Alternatively, instead of beating ourselves up, we must be equally mindful to catch ourselves when and if we become defensiveness.
Let me be clear. Change is hard. We all encounter moments when we are disappointed that we didn’t do our best, that something didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. It’s completely understandable to be upset in those moments. What we need to watch out for, though, are the repeating mantras we tell ourselves, the recurring patterns of how we view and engage in the world. If our behavior is not what we want for our children, then maybe the time has come to make a shift.
Be open to what may come.