There are two types of mindset – the fixed mindset, and the growth mindset (Dweck, 2012). Those in the fixed mindset believe that they should automatically be good at everything; that having to work hard at something, like learning a new skill or understanding a complicated idea, means that they are somehow stupid.
If your dream is to be successfully wealthy, and you are operating with a fixed mindset, then any little setback will more than likely devastate you. It probably means that you won’t even try because, as Dweck says, people in a fixed mindset are afraid of failing as it reflects negatively against their basic abilities.
- Do you think you have a fixed or a growth mindset? For example, do you believe that talented people are just lucky/gifted, or that they worked hard for years to achieve what they have? If you attribute it to luck, you might have a fixed mindset.
If you consume yourself with the fear of falling down in front of your friends, you won’t even start walkingCarol Dweck
Instead, Dweck explains that somebody with a growth mindset is more likely to seek out challenges, to know their weaknesses and to work on them, to actively strive for a better life, and to be a better (or more talented) person. She also believes that anybody can learn to have a growth mindset, so even if you’re frozen with fear now, it doesn’t have to be that way.
An example of a common fixed mindset which can sabotage feeling happy about your achievements is the Perfectionist. People with this mindset are fixed in the belief that in order to be successful they must meet standards of success that are motivated by other people’s ideas and not necessarily their own talents and desires. They often strive for a standard that they cannot reach and inwardly beat themselves up for not being good enough.
Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, alsopoints out the difference:
- “Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?”
- Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?””
One thing you can do is to recognise where the pressure to be perfect might be coming from. Usually, we are our own worst critics – we say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend. But those ideas have usually come from somewhere else- an overly critical or ambitious parent or teacher, perhaps. We can also look at the ideas that we’re given through the media.
- Think about somebody that you look up at and want to be like, whether it’s someone famous or somebody you know. Do you think their success is really as effortless as it seems?
Dweck says that the danger isn’t only in perfectionism, but in expecting effortless perfectionism. When you look at somebody that you aspire to, whether it’s because of their looks, wealth or happiness, you only see the final product.
Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from his job because he “lacked imagination”, Oprah was told that she was “unfit for TV”, and Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times? It’s easy to look at people as beacons of success and to imagine that they were born that way.
Remember that you only see the surface and ‘end results’, and that you’re not seeing the years of blood, sweat and tears that might have gone into that lifestyle or achievement that you envy. When we compare ourselves to impossible people, of course it’s going to feel impossible to be like them.
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- Dweck, C. (2012). Mindset: how you can fulfil your potential. Constable & Robinson.
- Pic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21561428@N03/5065528579/