Ready for a quiz?
Decide if you mostly agree or disagree with the following statements:
- Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change much
- You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are
- No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit
- You can always substantially change how intelligent you are
Carol Dweck, author of the recent Outmark book club selection, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, asks these questions to help determine if you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
If you agree with #1 and #2, Dweck will put you in a fixed mindset category (doh!). If you chose #3 and #4, you’re in a growth mindset state of mind (whoop).
So what does it all mean?
“Believing your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.”
People with a fixed mindset believe that their personality, abilities, and intelligence are static. You get what your mama gave you. Everything you do is based upon minimizing your chances of failure. Feedback is always negative. Other people’s success is seen as a threat. You feel entitled and that the world owes you something.
These are your “I’m gonna take a hard pass on that” people.
Dweck’s examples in the book can sometimes hit too close to home. We’ve all fallen into a fixed mindset at one time or another. You don’t speak up at a meeting for fear of looking stupid. You forgo applying for a job for fear of rejection. You need constant confirmation you are worthy. The status quo is comfortable.
But here’s the problem with comfort: you don’t grow.
“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.”
A person with a growth mindset believes that with motivation, passion, and hard work, you can often accomplish your goals. Your potential is unlimited. You see tremendous value when you challenge yourself. Failure is a learning opportunity.
These are your “Challenge accepted!” people.
Dweck’s research shows “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.” Some people were raised with a growth mindset while others brought up in a fixed mindset environment. The good news is that if you’ve identified yourself as leaning more into a fixed mindset, it’s not too late to change your internal monologue from “This means I’m a loser” to “I see I have things to work on and I’m willing to put in the effort.”
So whadda ya be, Gen Z?
I’m a mom so I couldn’t help but think of my parenting style as I read this book. Dweck even dedicates a chapter to it. So let’s get specific and talk about growth mindset as it relates to Gen Z.
Our society is creating a generation of kids with a fixed mindset. Wait, no ribbon? I might actually get last place? I’m out! We test the sh*t out of the kids…SBAC, PSAT, SAT, ACT, and more. Good grades are rewarded. Parents pay their kids $5 for every goal they score. And if you don’t make a youth premier sports team by the time you’re in fourth grade, better call it a day. Kids constantly have to prove themselves over and over and putting in the effort isn’t always worth it.
While reading this book I had a few eye opening moments reevaluating the last 19 years of raising our kids. Did we teach our kids to have a fixed mindset? Is it not too late to use some growth mindset Jedi mind tricks on my youngest?
It’s fun to grow
Outmark is a growth mindset firm. We only hire team members who want to learn (we call ourselves learn-it-alls). We will always hire a less qualified person who has a growth mindset over a more qualified person with a fixed mindset. Mistakes are viewed as an opportunity to grow. In fact, we have a “lessons learned” meeting after every project so we can make improvements. We are constantly training and know there’s always room to learn more. Outmark’s org chart is flat. We don’t believe in top-down leadership. Everyone has a voice and should feel comfortable using it. It’s all part of our culture.
If that sounds like your type of partner, give us a shout!
The Outmark team enjoyed this book. There are loads of real-life examples you’ll relate to and it will stop you in your tracks and make you think about your own mindset. The good news is that a mindset isn’t static. So think about areas where you have more of a fixed mindset and what you can do differently. How can you change the way you interact with your family, friends, and coworkers to drive growth? What can you do when you are asked to step outside of your comfort zone?
Dweck discusses workshops and exercises to help you get into the growth mindset, however simply acknowledging the two exist is a good first step.