A Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset – which one are you?

I like to think of myself as a ‘most of the time growth mindset’ kind of person. Most of the time open, most of the time persevering and most of the time challenging myself. 

But is that what it means?

I’ve been reading Carol Dweck’s book called, ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ and she describes the growth mindset as,

‘based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and help from others.’

And then there’s the fixed mindset…

‘our character, intelligence, and creativity are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way…avoiding failure at all costs.’

I quickly discovered early in our marriage, hubby and I had two very different ideas on how things should be done around the house. Looking back, they were insignificant things, but it did reveal the way we think and the type of mindsets we leaned towards.

 I’ve chosen to describe myself as a ‘most of the time growth mindset’ kind of person because reality is there are moments in our lives that we can and do become fixed in our thinking.

 After home educating our three daughters for a couple of decades, I found myself a little lost. I had been out of the work force forever, my pre-children qualifications were just about extinct and I suddenly felt unqualified, unintelligent and questioned my value in this world. 

This lasted for a few minutes because as a ‘mostly growth mindset’ kind of person, I rose to the challenge and went back to study. I saw my situation as a challenge to better myself, to qualify myself, to position myself to add value to my new normal.

I started with what was familiar to me, a diploma in educating children. Well, I had just spent nearly 25 years at home facilitating my daughters’ education, so I saw that as a safe beginning. I was still a little fragile and failure this early in the journey would not have gone down too well. And after graduating with high grades, my confidence had started to grow, and I enrolled myself in a Bachelor of Education.

I love learning and I love a new challenge.

Having a growth mindset enabled me to face the difficulties I found myself in as I transitioned from full time mum at home to ‘what’s next’ and instead of thinking about what I didn’t have, I started to think of the possibilities of what I could have. 

As I etched towards the uncomfortable of the unknown, I became comfortable in knowing failure is not the end but the beginning to a whole new opportunity to grow and discover strengths and capabilities that were waiting to be brought to the surface that would not only inspire me, but inspire all those around me.

Author – Sophie Stokes

Transformational Leader and Mentor


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