A Glimmer A Day

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset - Setting Those Glimmers Free

What is a Fixed and Growth Mindset?

It’s only relatively recently that the concept of ‘Growth Mindset’ and ‘Fixed Mindset’ have become part of common thinking and are even being taught in schools. According to Harvard Business School

”Someone with a growth mindset views intelligence, abilities, and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort. On the other hand, someone with a fixed mindset views those same traits as inherently stable and unchangeable over time.”

People with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities and intellligence are pre-determined by their genes whereas according to science if you have growth mindset you can become smarter and more skilful at any age or stage if you have good strategies and the willingness to practice.

Mindset comparison

Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset
I'm either good at it or I'm bad I can learn new things no matter what age I am
My abilities are predetermined by my genes I can't do it 'yet'
Failure shows me what I'm not good at I learn and grow from failure
Feedback is always criticism I think that feedback is constructive and helpful
I don't like to get out of my comfort zone I might be scared to try new things but I will anyway.

You Can Grow Your Brain!

Did you know that your brain is like a muscle and can actually grow? The more we exercise and use it the stronger it gets. It doesn’t matter how old you are, 25, 55 or 85 your brain is still capable of learning new skills if you practice them enough. This paper from Santiago Canyon College is a worth a read, if you’ve never been able to juggle, now is your time!

The concept of a your brain being able to create neuron paths in order for you to learn new skills is liberating. You are not stuck or stupid, you just can’t do it ‘YET’ but with practice you will make progress and eventually be able to conquer whatever it is that you find difficult. How many of us have gone through our lives thinking we are bad at something and never really tried because you are either good at it or not? Maths is a good example of this, with a fixed mindset if you don’t get the concept straight away then it’s easy to write off as too hard, or I’m no good at doing maths so I won’t even try.

Criticism Can Be Difficult With a Fixed Mindset

With a fixed mindset constructive criticism can be hard to take as it feels like a personal attack therefore shutting down any chance of giving yourself the opportunity to improve. A good example of this would be in sport, a soccer player with a fixed mindset will not take on board constructive criticism from their coach but feel hurt and angry that they are being singled out and not improve the skill. A player with a growth mindset will understand that constructive criticism is not a personal attack but is actually an opportunity for you to improve upon your game, helping you to learn and grow as a player.

Time to Leave Your Comfort Zone?

With a fixed mindset you are are unwilling to try new things as leaving your comfort zone is scary as you don’t know what to expect, if you are a perfectionist you won’t enjoy the feeling of not knowing what you are doing or not being completely in control or sure of the end result. Doing new things while having a growth mindset is still scary and uncomfortable but you do it anyway as you understand that leaving your comfort zone will create new opportunities and enable you to grow and improve.

A Growth Mindset Helps You Find Your Glimmers

When you leave your comfort zone and try new things, you are giving yourself an opportunity to find activities or experiences that bring you moments of joy- your glimmers. Little micro-moments of joy ‘glimmers’ help to calm your overwhelmed brain and nervous system which in turn releases feel good hormones that reduces levels of anxiety and stress and improves overall feelings of well-being. Having a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed one enables you to understand that you can help your mental health by doing little things everyday to improve it- your state of mind is not fixed. Things can and will improve and even when times are tough take the opportunity to look for glimmers and know that like your brain, you are still growing and learning every day.

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship -- Louisa May Alcott