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2 very different Mindsets

January 05, 20245 min read

Is Success about learning, or proving that you are smart or talented?

Great researchers and authors in the fields of developmental psychology, social psychology and personality psychology are finding that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. 


You might ask, “How can a simple belief have the power to transform my life?”

Well, it turns out it all has to do with your MINDSET. Carol Dweck, Ph.D, who studies why some people succeed and other’s don’t, has found evidence of 2 mindsets in her research and the results of each mindset are powerful.

Those with a Fixed Mindset believe that their qualities are set in stone, that they have a certain amount of Intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character. The results from this research indicates the need for people to prove themselves on a regular basis. “I don’t want to look or feel deficient in those basic characteristics.” 

Judgement: If children are given clues by parents, media, friends or teachers to focus on being smart and not looking dumb, then children don’t enjoy learning, instead they can become consumed with proving themselves in the classroom, in their careers, in their relationships.  Your traits are seen as a hand that you were dealt at the beginning that is set in stone and you will have to simply live with it. You might worry that people will see that you weren’t dealt a great hand, maybe only a pair of 8s, and you want to convince others that you have a great hand, like a royal flush.

In this fixed mindset, mistakes are not okay and every situation is evaluated, “Will I succeed or fail? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?” 

Once children see others judging their behaviors, certain personalities will take that judgement over and start self- judging in their own minds without even thinking about it. 

In this mindset, a person’s competence and self-worth is tied to current performance. 

Dweck has found that in this Fixed mindset, there is a tendency to:

· Avoid challenges

· Give up easily in the face of obstacles

· See effort at fruitless

· Ignore useful negative feedback 

· Feel threatened by the success of others

· As a result, people with a fixed mindset may plateau early and fail to achieve their full potential.

There is another way of thinking.

In the Growth mindset, there is the belief that one’s basic qualities like intelligence, personality style and moral character can be cultivated through one’s efforts, and help from others. People’s initial temperaments and aptitudes can be changed and they can grow through learning, application and experience. The growth mindset creates a passion for learning. These people say, 

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be learning and growing?” I don’t want to be around people that will just give me kudos and increase my self-esteem, I want to be around people that will challenge me to grow!” 

The hallmark of a growth mindset is stretching oneself, taking risks, and sticking to the task even when things are not going well. This allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. 

If 2 people have a challenging afternoon, how do their reactions differ?

Challenging afternoon: You studied really hard for a test, and it was important to get a good grade. You expected an A grade and you get the test back with a big C+ at the top of the page. As you get back to your car, you have gotten a parking ticket. You call your best friend to share your experience and they sort of brush you off. 

What are your thoughts?

Fixed mindset                                                            Growth mindset

“I’d feel like a failure”                                           “I need to try harder in class” 

“The world is out to get me”                     “I need to be more careful when parking my car”

“Everyone’s better than me”                           “I wonder if my friend had a bad day?”

How would you cope?:

“Stay in bed”                                                    “Study harder or in a different way”

“Get drunk”                                                                 “I’d pay the ticket”

“Yell at someone if I got the chance”               “Find out what is wrong with my friend”

Take-aways: Those with a growth mindset dealt with the above challenges directly, showing they were ready to take the risks, confront the challenges and work toward a solution. Those with a Fixed mindset tended to label themselves and threw up their hands, letting the distress they were experiencing stop or slow them down in fixing things. 

Those with the growth mindset who believe they can develop themselves were more open to accurate information about their current abilities even when unflattering, and they have been described as having “ a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses”. 

In the Growth mindset, there is a tendency to:

· Embrace challenges

· Persist in the face of setbacks

· See effort as a path to mastery

· Learns from criticism and feedback

· Finds lessons and inspiration in the success of others

· Results: they reach ever-higher levels of achievement, and it gives them a greater sense of free will.

So, what do you focus on, are you concerned with how you will be judged or how you can improve? 

The great news is that if you find you have a fixed mindset, you have the choice to adopt a growth mindset and change your thinking. Problems and failures can be painful, but they don’t have to DEFINE you!

For more information on how to adopt and grow a GROWTH mindset, sign up for our newsletter or our next workshop!

Go out there and make an impact!

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Shannon Peck

Shannon Peck has over 15 years of experience in the fields of psychology and executive coaching, she brings a unique approach to acquiring Mindset techniques in a fun and positive atmosphere that combines evidence-based practices with an athlete centered approach. She holds a Master's degree in Psychology and is a certified Sport Psychology Coach with experience coaching Athletes, Coaches Parents, and Youth Sport Leaders in building great sports' cultures. She was an accomplished competitive skater in her youth and has coached competitive skaters for over 25 years. She toured as a principal skater with Ice Capades, Disney on Ice, Sea World Rhythms on Ice, Holiday on Ice and American Super Dream in Japan.

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"I used to get really frustrated with myself on bad skating days, especially when I came into the rink already upset or sad. I would often leave more frustrated than when I came in. Coach Shannon taught us about our emotional tank and how our state of mind can impact our performance, which has made a huge impact on my improvement. When I became aware of my emotional tank, I was able to adjust my expectations and what I was practicing that day, which allowed me to make progress on the harder days. In general, it helped me have a better attitude toward skating and enjoy it much more. Now, I’ve applied this to different aspects of my life, including school and it has really helped! "

Tiffany - Synchronized and Singles Figure skater

"One of the most powerful things that I took away from my coaching with Shannon was the use of Imagery, how I can use it to prepare for challenging situations. When I practice with Imagery ahead of time, I realize that I have been there before and I’ve planned for this situation. As a result, I feel more in control and confident of my abilities. I now use Imagery to
prepare for challenging situations as a way to regulate my emotions and get me in a good mindset, it’s great to feel prepared.

The other thing that has really helped was being aware of my activation level. Before, I won’t lie, I was unaware of it, and now that I know where I want to be (excitement level as I start a game), I feel better, like I am in more control of how I am showing up. "

Ava - High School Softball player

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