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Introduction to Mindset Theory

Last week I gave you a sneak peak into mindset theory. This week, I’m digging a little deeper into this theory developed by Carol Dweck.

Carol Dweck is a Psychology Professor who is most known for her work on theories on intelligence and motivation. She discovered through researching children that there are basically two mindsets we can navigate life with: a fixed or a growth mindset. In this video you can see how Dweck did her research. To sum up: in the research children got easy tasks. They were either praised on the effort, or praised on their intelligence. Then, they got a more difficult task. It seems that the group who was praised on intelligence gave up quicker than the group who was praised on effort.

In the graphic below you can see the main differences between the two mindsets. It makes sense that we need a growth mindset in order to grow and be successful. And more importantly, to be happy! Remember that magic (and growth!) happens outside of our comfort zone. Guess which mindset you’ll need in order to step out? Exactly, a growth mindset!

Fixed Mindset: Intelligence is static Growth Mindset: Intelligence can be developed
Looks for ways to look smart and to reinforce that thought Looks for ways to learn and enjoys learning
Avoids challenges Embraces challenges
Gets defensive and gives up early Persists with setbacks
Sees effort as fruitless because potential is a fixed given Sees effort as the path to mastery. Abilities are determined by effort and attitudes.
Ignores useful negative feedback Accepts criticism and learns from it
Other people’s success feels as threatening Other people’s success is a source of inspiration
Likes to stick to what is known
Likes to try new things
Deterministic view of the world Great sense of free will

Result: achieve less than full potential Result: Reach higher levels of achievement

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.

Of course, it’s too easy to claim we either have a fixed or a growth mindset. Most people have both on different areas of life. We can have a growth mindset when it comes to relationships, but we might have a growth mindset when it comes to (home)work. Also, the two mindsets are better seen as a spectrum and we are all somewhere on that scale. 

So it might seem easy enough to ‘fix’ a kid’s fixed mindset by just start praising on effort. That is exactly what has happened after Dweck’s research became more known. However, life is not an easy fix and transforming a mindset is way more complex than that. But the work is part of the process and just as beautiful as the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Curious as to WHAT IS a right approach to transforming a fix mindset into a growth and open mindset? Stay tuned for next week’s article where I dive even deeper into this interesting journey!

Thank you for being part of my community!

Wishing you a wonderful week and until next time, my friend.

Much love & joy,


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