A Fixed Versus A Growth Mindset

Author: Mary Jane Roy, Thought Leader Move in2 the Future

If you think your character, personality traits and intelligence are static, that your ability to learn was determined by your genetic ‘pool’ (clean or dirty), that what you’ve got in this moment is all you’ve got, then please think again. Research by Carol Dweck, a Stanford Psychology Professor, shows that

“people’s mindset about learning will have a significant impact on how much they will learn”.

Average is as Average does

When I was in elementary school, I had my mom as a supply teacher. During this period, our class had to do an IQ assessment. Mom was reviewing these at home. I wheedled and pried to get her to tell me my results. She finally gave in enough, to say that I was in the ‘average’ category. It was a belief I bought into, until my early 50’s. I regret that I was so persistent in wanting to know this label, when I was about 10 year’s old. It defined much of my effort and success throughout my life.

After years of average marks in high school and college, I remember being relieved when my education was finished and I could get out into the working world. I felt my ‘book learning’ (and self-induced judgment), was behind me.

An Important Lesson

For 30 years, I remained in this fixed mindset limbo, with the exception of one very important lesson learned in my early 30’s. I was challenged to learn elements of physics (a subject I barely passed in high school) for a new job, with a heat recovery engineering company. Thermal heating units, gallons of water flow in a one (or two or three…) inch pipe, expected temperature increase of incoming water by the number of indirect BTU’s leaving a chimney stack…I wanted to succeed in this job and so my mind opened up. I allowed myself to learn. It got to the point that I was correcting the engineers’ calculations in their proposals.

Changing Directions

That one pivotal lesson helped me to change direction in my career, at the age of 53. It was, quite simply, knowing that if you REALLY want to learn something, you can. This belief has ensured that with the right amount of effort, I can, and will learn anything I set my mind to learn.   

For the last decade plus, I’ve spent mega hours (and money), devouring information (Hoover MJ), following courses, getting certified in learning how to thrive. How to develop emotional agility and resiliency. It’s what makes waking up in the morning worthwhile – knowing I can share this wisdom, so others can thrive as well.

Encourage Life-Long Learning

When we continually grow and learn, continually improve ourselves, we flourish. For organizations it is the same. Become a life-long learner and encourage your employees to become this also. It will help them bridge the challenge of change. Why should I be so stressed if my job is changing, or I might be losing my job, when I know that I can learn what’s relevant in another project or organization? Another benefit is that neuroscience has shown that our brains continue to develop new neural pathways and connections. This is called neuroplasticity. You’re actually giving yourself the gift of a healthier brain, until the day you die.

“Our brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections.” Jesper Mogensen, psychologist

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