Often, intelligence and aptitude are attributed to individuals at an early age. However, this can establish what Stanford professor Carol Dweck titles as “fixed mindsets” – that is, where an individual defines themselves by their intrinsic intelligence or foreknowledge. Contrast that with a “growth mindset” where an individual approaches life by applying curiosity, perseverance, and determination when approaching new or unfamiliar subject matter.
Dweck begins by presenting the underlying psychology of the two mindsets and the prevailing angst associated with the “fixed mindset”. Years of success and intelligence can be called into question at any moment. The premise that fixed qualities should manifest themselves positively in any context creates a decision paralysis within otherwise gifted individuals. The fear of being exposed overrides the desire to expand one’s knowledge.
In contrast, the “growth mindset” encourages applying one’s aptitude to research, challenges, and perseverance when dealing with unfamiliar subject matter. When presented with failure, growth mindset individuals understand the setback to be only temporary. Through continued commitment and consultation, development will continue, and expertise will be deepened.
Failure is not a comfortable result for anyone, and avoidance may often feel the more tempting alternative. However, expertise can be obtained, and outcomes can be achieved through continued resolve.