May 16, 2009

What is your mindset?

"To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all." --Peter McWilliams

A little while back I read Mindset by Carol Dweck. I'd picked it up at Costco with a couple of other books that looked interesting, and it sat on my shelf gathering dust for a while. I'm not entirely sure why I decided to read it, but I'm really glad I did. It's one of those books that can change everything about how you view the world.

According to Dweck, there are basically two mindsets. A fixed mindset is where intelligence and abilities are something you either have or you do not. A person who thinks this way won't go out of their comfort zone and failures are taken personally. A growth mindset is the opposite. Failures are celebrated because that means you get to keep learning! Intelligence and natural talent can always be improved and expanded. An excellent example of mindsets is the movie Meet the Robinsons and if you haven't seen it yet, you should.

I don't have a growth mindset. I should probably mention that no one is in any one mindset all of the time. I certainly encourage my children to love learning, enjoy the process, embrace challenges. I don't see them as having a fixed IQ or ability. But I do often feel that way about myself. Some of my toughest criticisms are in parenting, educating, housework. I don't often see setbacks as something to improve upon, but failures...again. It's really only recently that I've thought of my own intelligence as something malleable. I remember saying I had the perfectly normal IQ of 100 and so I wasn't really that smart. All this isn't to say that I suffer from horrible self-esteem, but in a lot of ways I have been, and still am, stuck in this fixed way of thinking. Fortunately, with a little practice, a growth mindset is easy enough to attain.

I've got a lot to say on mindsets, so it will probably be a topic I come back to many times. Since I'm more aware of them, I am able to see people in my life as examples of both. A topic for another post, but my dear friend Mo is a shining example of a growth mindset. While much of my family, including Robotson, has in some way fixed their thinking.

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