What is Your Mindset?

Posted May 6, 2013 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five

I’m probably way behind on the times but I’ve been reading this book called,  Mindset. The New Psychology of Success  by Carol Dweck and it’s chalk full of such interesting information about, you guessed it, our mindsets! I want to give you a taste of the cool information in this book.

The ideas behind Carol’s research is that there are two types of mindsets and I can’t wait to tell you about them.

The fixed mindset is one where you believe your basic qualities are carved in stone.  It suggests then that you have to prove yourself and your qualities repeatedly.  If you only have a certain amount of intelligence or capability or natural talent, you need to make sure that you’re good enough at them, that you’re capable enough.  The book goes on to say that these people often times are proving themselves in most situations, Every situation is evaluated as: Will I fail or succeed? Will I look smart or dumb? This consuming goal occurs in careers, in education and in relationships.  Sound familiar? Sometimes it feels super obvious and other times it’s more subtle.  That teeny twinge of anxiety in situations or that whisper of a question around competency.

Luckily for us there’s another mindset to look into as well.

The growth mindset.  This one is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate, things you can grow, through your effort.  Everyone is capable of changing through application and experience.  The author notes that of course this mindset doesn’t suggest that anyone can do/be anything ever (though, why not?) but instead that a person’s true capability and potential is unknowable.  We can tap into our potential by hard work and cultivation.

If we believe that these qualities can be grown, it creates the chance for us to stand in opportunity. Instead of trying to prove again and again your greatness, you can grow your greatness through new experiences and risks. Why spend time proving your same qualities when you have the chance to stretch yourself? That’s the growth mindset.

In a challenging situation, perhaps one where we didn’t do as well as we’d liked to or we didn’t like the results, the fixed mindset sets us up to ask questions about ourselves and make up answers that are usually internalized as bad about us.  I’m dumb. I’m a loser. I suck. The growth mindset would ask question about opportunity.  What do I need to change to succeed next time? When can I try again? When’s the next chance?

Best part of the book so far is this: you can change your mindset! I’m thinking growth mindset would be a great place to stand.


Should I talk about this mindset stuff more? Do you dig it?

About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”