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Breaking Free From a Fixed Mindset
How a Growth Mindset can help you achieve your potential.
For most of my life, I was operating with the wrong manual for my life. The assumptions I made about myself and my abilities caused a lot of pain and suffering, which also caused me to be lost in the world, far away from myself and who I was. I was a walking example of what not to do. The paths I took in life usually ended in dead ends and painful experiences. That was until I started understanding what mindsets were and how they can help us or hurt us in our journey in life.
A mindset is a set of beliefs we carry around with us about ourselves and the world we inhabit. A mindset influences our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in any given situation. We usually develop our mindsets through our habits and experiences. Mindsets are powerful and can help us overcome our challenges, but they can also, if left unchecked, create blind spots that can affect us negatively.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi.
I want to share the mindset that has helped me change my view about myself from believing I was just not cut out for a goal to seeing my failure from a different perspective and becoming determined to achieve my goal, which is the Growth Mindset.
The Power of a Growth Mindset
One of the mindsets that play a critical role in our lives is the Growth mindset, popularized by the research of Stanford Psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck because it puts us in the driver’s seat of our lives instead of watching it from the sidelines. Having a Growth mindset helps you see setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth and development of your abilities.
My Fixed Mindset
Looking back at my life, I can see this thought and behavior pattern play out in all parts of my life and career. I used to believe I was just bad at cooking and could never improve because of a recipe turning out bad. I would get frustrated and give up on trying again for a long time.
Making the shift to a Growth mindset
Once I started checking the assumptions and beliefs I carried about myself; I could begin undoing the damage. Instead of taking my negative thoughts about not being a good cook, I took a step back, looked at my recipe cooking process, and realized that I was not following the recipes completely. I improvised along the way, which caused the dishes to turn out badly. Which made me realize it wasn’t my ability to cook but my ability to follow the recipe step by step. So now I follow the steps listed in the recipe and check the negative thoughts as they appear. I want to improve, which I can with focused effort.
Here are a few other approaches to shifting to a Growth mindset:
Focus on enjoying the journey - Instead of worrying about the final product or goal, notice what you learn and how it helps you grow.
Adopt a new favorite word, “Yet!” - Becoming good at anything takes time, and you will make many mistakes along the way. Start using the word “Yet!” to tell yourself that you are working towards the goal and will get there eventually.
Check your thoughts and the words you use. Don’t let a negative thought define you. Replace the negative thoughts with positive ones to keep your focus on learning and growing instead of perfection.
Instead of becoming frustrated about a recipe not turning out as I expected it to, I now check to see where I went wrong without the thoughts of being bad at cooking weighing me down.
Similarly, at work, when we don’t have a good process, or we don’t have the right skills for the task and, as a result, fail, it is not a judgment of our innate abilities. We can identify the areas we need to improve in our process or our skills and change our approach for the next time.
So the next time you think you can’t do a task or a project because it is too hard, immediately check the thought and reframe it to understand what is in the way. Approach each negative thought with curiosity so you can get to the root cause of it instead of identifying with it.
By consciously checking our assumptions, beliefs, and blind spots, we can change our perspectives instead of being imprisoned by them. A growth mindset is critical to achieving your potential, and now is the time to develop it. Are you ready to make the change?
I would love to hear what your experience with the Growth mindset and how you have made the shift to develop it. Let me know in the comments.
Till next time, stay strong!