I am currently reading a book called ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck. The woman who did wonderful research in this field and who pioneered the research of Growth Mindset in Positive Psychology.
That is the kinda book after reading which you feel pumped up to work harder. I swear, I have been feeling that (and working hard) for a couple of weeks now.
And few days ago I stumbled upon a movie, which talks about many aspects of growth mindset.
Many of you must’ve watched this movie with your kids, or your younger brother or sister or by yourself if you are a Disney fan. I am talking about – Monsters University.
Its a wonderful movie! And very realistic.
The person adopting growth mindset in this movie is, of course, our cute (but scary, but mostly cute) Mike Wazowski.
Mike has all his plans lined up. And he works hard for them. In the movie it is shown that even though Mike is not scary, he refuses to believe that scariness is just about looks. He did not have a great support system, but he didn’t need one. He has full faith in his efforts. Even if he wasn’t “gifted” with a scary face, he never gave up and worked harder than anyone in the school.
He was not afraid to make mistakes. When the professor would not allow him in the Scare Games competition, he challenged her and gave them a tough competition.
I still remember the dialogue when the opponent (the cool guy, famous guy) says – “Enjoy this attention… After you lose the game, no one is going to remember you”
And then Mike says – “But if you lose, no one will let you forget”
That was the moment where I went like “oooooohhhh”
(yeah I know you imagined in the same tone)
At the same time, there is another guy at school. He is a Sullivan, he is the son of a famous Sullivan and he thinks that he has it all. He believes he will be scarier than anyone just because his dad had a good reputation. He did not believe in hard work. He barely attended lecturers. He thought he knew and “had” everything to do well.
He is kinda scared or not willing to make efforts. To be seen as someone less than perfect, to be seen as a beginner. Spoiler alert! – That is exactly why he does not even attend some earlier training sessions Mike arranged for their team.
(How do they get in same team? You gotta watch the movie for that)
Now imagine you have to interview both of them for a job. Which one will you select? The one with naturally gifted talent? Or the hard working kid?
First let’s talk about the Sullivan. He was stuck in fixed mindset.
People with this mindset are scared to be seen as beginner, they are scared to make mistakes. They want to maintain their image as a “naturally gifted / talented person”.
Effort has a bad rep. Making efforts is mostly seen as trying to get better at something you’re not good at.
So people with fixed mindset don’t even try. They do not leave their “comfort zone”. They also surround themselves with people who will reinforce their belief, that they are the “know-it-all”.
If you tell them they have done something wrong, they might not want to correct it. They let it be. Because they don’t want to be seen making efforts and failing. Because they also think that intelligence, or other traits are fixed. You either have it or you don’t.
And being scared to discover that they might not have it, or they might fail at something is what keeps them from trying.
The problem with people with fixed mindset is that, it hampers their growth. They do not learn and grow. Since they think some traits are fixed and no matter what they do, they cannot improve those. They lose interest at something when they start failing. They simply say to themselves “this is not for me” and move on.
But not the people with growth mindset. When they get challenging things, they simply say to themselves “ah! I love this challenge”. They like to try and make efforts and even fail so they could get there some day.
And so they do. Even through the initial failures, the more times you try to do something, the better you get at it.
These people with growth mindset actually improve their performance at something even when they are initially not so good at it.
But most importantly? They explore. They seek challenges, they want to improve. Even if the situation seems overwhelming in the begining (like admission to a reputed college), they do what they need to do to keep going (keeping up with their classes even when it gets hard and doing the work even if they find it very difficult).
There is a point when you decide to specialise in a subject, and the course curriculum seems too much for you. You never realised this subject could be this hard. But when you are thinking from a growth mindset, you do get overwhelmed, yes. But that does not stop you from working hard. That does not make you “lose interest” in the subject just because now you don’t top in the subject.
What is so novel about growth mindset is that it makes you take efforts even when things get tough.
How to adapt growth mindset?
– Believe in your ability to figure things out as you go. Believe in your hardwork.
– Think of all the times you didn’t thought you could do something, but you did it. Take the motivation from there and work hard this time.
– It is okay to fail. It means you are trying. Don’t give up just yet. Once you succeed, no one is going to remember your failures anyway!
– Learn, learn, learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to take feedback, take feedback and figure out how you can improve.