“College students, after doing poorly on a test, were given a chance to look at tests of other students. Those in the growth mindset looked at the test of people who had done far better than they had. As usual, they wanted to correct their deficiency. But students in the fixed mindset chose to look at the tests of people who had done really poorly. That was their way of feeling better about themselves.”
Does this quote shock you?
It surprised me when I first read this quote on growth mindset vs fixed mindset from Carol Dweck’s book, ‘Mindset’.
It’s obvious that, as a parent or teacher, you want your child to consistently live in a growth mindset.
Kids with a growth mindset are far more willing to see and correct their mistakes than those with a fixed mindset.
A person with a growth mindset is eager to learn more, to invest time in building on their failures, rather than covering them up to make themselves feel better (fixed mindset).
The benefit of understanding how to live more frequently in the growth mindset than fixed mindset for kids is this:
- Your child will be more successful in school, college, university and beyond.
- Your child will have better relationships and feel better within his or herself knowing improvement and growth is possible, mistakes are not the end of the world and he or she is not defined by his/her failures or setbacks.
- Your child will be more resilient, optimistic and determined.
- Your child will be happier, healthier and better prepared to bounce back from the challenges life inevitably throws at us.
At Manchester Tutors, our tutors are keen to infuse the growth mindset into their classrooms and study rooms to build both subject competence and self-confidence within their students and tutees.
Perhaps you can relate to the feeling or desire to cover over your mistakes. Or you can see this in your child. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.
What this quote doesn’t tell us is what is discussed in the rest of this book – mindset is not fixed.
Thank goodness for that!
Carol Dweck is ultimately seeking to help us live in the growth mindset more often than we are in the fixed mindset.
Why we choose a Fixed Mindset
People with a fixed mindset are simply protecting themselves. The college students’ responses in the study to ‘look at the tests of people who had done really poorly’ may seem egotistical, but this response is a protective mechanism so they ‘feel better about themselves’.
We all want to win in life. The students in the fixed mindset chose winning over learning in this situation.
We can all fall into that trap at one time or another.
Three ways to choose a Growth Mindset
Acknowledge your mistakes
With a growth mindset, rather than sticking your head in the sand, you acknowledge that you don’t know it all.
The students with the growth mindset were keen to ‘correct their deficiency’.
As off-putting as the word ‘deficiency’ can be, sometimes it is important to be aware of the areas we are lacking in knowledge, influence and experience.
Additionally, we don’t know what we don’t know. This may mean that at times we need someone to highlight our faults to us. That’s fine too. Acknowledging your mistakes also means being open to correction and feedback.
And even if you’re not completely failing, what if you could change your experiences in work to a B+ rather than a C-grade average. Or how about boosting your relationships and interactions from a B to an A*?
Carol Dweck’s book and research demonstrates that there is always more to learn and there is always opportunity for improvement – well, at least if you have a growth mindset, anyway.
Learn from your mistakes
Rather than choosing to look at the right answers to correct their mistakes, students with the fixed mindset chose to placate themselves with the fact others had made similar or worse mistakes. They chose students with tests who had done ‘really poorly’! Their thought process – why bother upsetting themselves with discovering where they went wrong and how to make the necessary improvements?
At Manchester Tutors we want to challenge you to instead apply the response of the students in the growth mindset to education, work and life so that you can begin to consistently search for the better and best responses to every adverse situation, challenge or mistake you make.
You can do this through self-reflection and external support, such as with a coach, mentor or tutor.
Find a process to make success more likely
If you stick with the fixed mindset and only focus on learning from those who achieve less than you, how will you ever improve?
The process to make success more likely includes reaching out to coaches, mentors and tutors who have achieved what you desire to achieve. (Our tutors are subject specialists, have been personally interviewed and reference-checked by our team of experts in education.) Hear from one of our tutors here. They’ve likely made many mistakes and can share their wisdom so that you can avoid those pitfalls. They can help you learn from mistakes you have made to choose a better path next time. And they can support you to discover the best way to achieve the success you desire.
But this process does not only apply to education.
Imagine if you applied a growth mindset in every area of your life.
How much better would your progress in life be?