I had the pleasure to read the book from Carol S. Dweck “Mindset – the new Psychology of success” in which she explains that people belief about their capacity to learn has huge impact on the way they deal with challenges. We either believe that our skills can be developed or that they are fixed like talent and cannot be improved. Our belief system varies depending on the area we deal with. Some people may believe that they can learn to play soccer while learning a new language is out of their reach.
Nowadays, people have a tendency to believe that they can improve their physical appearance through sport, diet, fashion… while being restricted by their mental abilities. You are either good at math or not. You can recognize a good wine or not. You can [ability of your choice] or not.
The consequences of such a limiting belief lead us to “avoid effort by not getting involved”. Why would we dare spend our free time on learning Spanish? You will definitely “give up easily” on learning Spanish [or anything else] if you believe that you do not have the “talent” for it. Furthermore, you will not see effort as necessary to achieve your goal but as a “useless pain”. The criticism that you will receive will be seen as a degradation of your person an then “ignored” to protect your ego. You will “feel threatened by the success of others”and when your colleague will be say few words more in Spanish than you, your relationship with him may get worth.
On the other hand, when you believe that a skill can be developed you will have a “desire to learn” which will make you “embrace challenges” as they are opportunities to learn and grow. You will “persist”in your effort to learn as obstacles are indicators of what should be worked on. All your efforts and criticism you receive lead you to foster your learning. The success of others gives you “inspiration” to go further and develop better learning strategies.
The Diagram by Nigel Holmes bellow resumes the two tendencies very well. I would like to add that we can believe in our ability to learn a new skill but face periods in which our fixed mindset come to say hello and stop us from learning. It is then important to be aware of those apparitions and consciously decide to come back to the growth Mindset. Sentences like “here you come again Fixed Mindset” can help you distance yourself from what is happening in order to take correcting actions.
The most amazing point about Carol S. Dweck book could be summarized in one sentence: “Your ability to learn depends on your learning belief”.
There are for sure predisposition that facilitate your capacity to master a skill. Someone who can analyse situations will be better off when evaluating risks than someone who did not develop this skill. The main idea is that you can always improve your skills even a bit which can give you the keys to a new position in your organization.
It is nice to know that you can improve your language, math or analytically skills but can we improve our leadership? There are different schools of thoughts that defend both this thesis and antithesis. In my opinion, we can learn new behavior to become better leaders. The question lays on the durability of such a change. Habits become then an interesting topic. Can we develop new durable behavioral habits?
I guess that we can, looking at all people quitting drugs and alcohol or people learning from their eating disorders. There is a need of awareness, desire to change and support by the company and relatives. You can learn and that’s the most important thing to remember!
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck