In yesterday’s post, I referred to my mother’s longstanding view of me. She was perplexed by the fact that I often chose to pursue the most arduous ambitions.
Thankfully, world-renowned Psychologist, Carol Dweck, Ph.D., of Stanford University, has written a book titled: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success-How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential.
Due to Dr. Dweck’s great contribution in this area of psychology, educators are working to cultivate the idea that teachers/parents telling a child that, “He/she is so smart,” is actually doing them a disservice in the long run. It is best to praise specific behaviors, e.g., “You spent a lot of time studying quadratic equations. I can see why you did so well on the test.” If parents/educators give broadly phrased praise such as “You are so smart!” or “You are a whiz at science.” it can actually work against the child when they invariably come up against difficult problems, assignments and projects. They will may not work as hard, may receive lower grades in school, and may experience quite a bit of anxiety when they are faced with difficult academic/other challenges.
Thus, Dr. Dweck suggests that we encourage a growth mindset in our children, rather than a fixed mindset.
Fixed mindsets are characteristic of people who are of the belief that their intelligence or gifts cannot be further developed. They are born with what they have been given. Thus, motivation to improve intelligence or talents is lacking. This mindset espouses the idea that persons who are successful have been given the characteristics necessary for success, rather than having worked to achieve accomplishments.
In contrast, persons with a growth mindset, acknowledge intelligence and gifts, but believe that ambition and perseverance can enhance one’s success in life. This positive attitude helps people of all ages to love learning and work to accomplish great goals.
I was pondering this the other day, when I was working on my writing course. Not having studied English as a major in college, I am working diligently to improve my writing ability on a daily basis. In fact, this is my primary goal as I pursue my blogging/writing/speaking career. My growth mindset tells me that no matter ambitious the goal, I can become a better writer.
And, as any writer will tell you, it is a very difficult occupation. A writer needs to:
- sit down and create, revise, create and revise again.
- read good writing to stimulate one’s own voice.
- work through the frustrations of feeling unmotivated when the words don’t come easily by just putting your rear on the chair and spending time in the process.
- be willing to accept criticism in order to improve one’s craft.
- let go of the fact that some pretty lousy writers can become quite popular. We don’t all have the same standards, nor are we all writing for the same audience.
- realize that although a great deal of time may be spent creating a piece, it may never be seen by any other set ofeyes. I have written 270 blog posts, 55 of which have never been published. Countless hours were put into crafting these posts, but when they were completed, I found myself inspired to write about a very different subject. Strangely, these newly inspired pieces are often composed quite quickly, after spending multitudinous hours writing the post left unpublished.
The great thing about my quest to improve my writing ability is the model of a growth mindset it gives to my teens.
In their future endeavors, they will achieve greater satisfaction knowing that if a class/project/theory is difficult for them, they can always work to improve understanding and experience the joy of a great accomplishment.
So, I guess I’d have to say that a growth mindset is serving me well. Without it, I wouldn’t be experiencing the joy of typing these last words.