Maintaining a healthy self-image is a key part of success. How we view our abilities determines our level of achievement. And according to Stanford Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck, Ph.D, having a fixed mindset won’t help us do so.
Dweck coined the term “fixed mindset” as part of her research on the ways individuals view their basic abilities. These include intelligence, creativity, and other talents. Those with a more fixed mindset believe their talents and intellect are “givens,” wrote Dweck on her site. In other words, they believe their qualities are inherent, unchanging, and cannot be improved upon regardless of efforts to do so.
The term “growth mindset,” also coined by Dweck, is the opposite. Individuals with a growth mindset believe that hard work and dedication can help refine their preexisting level of intellect and creativity. Because they think this way, they possess a genuine love of learning and eagerness to embrace the challenges they encounter.
Contrarily, fixed mindset folks are much more afraid to make mistakes. They are far more approval-seeking, easily discouraged by failure, and unwilling to work on their weaknesses. Thus, they tend to shy away from difficulty and hardship.
According to Dweck, fixed mindset individuals seek achievement to constantly prove to themselves that they are as talented or intelligent as they think they are. Dweck believes this shouldn’t be a motive to succeed.
“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better,” the author wrote in her self-help book, Mindset: The Psychology of Success. She also noted in a Medium interview that the process of constantly reaffirming your abilities is a grueling one.
“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone … creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look deficient in these most basic characteristics.”