Abby was called to a meeting by her boss. He was not happy with her work on the last project and gave her some critical feedback. Devastated, she left his office and began to question her competence. She felt like a failure. Maybe it was time to quit and do something different.
Jared decided he was spending too much money on handymen. So, when his front door handle broke, he retrieved his tools and tried to fix it. Frustrated, he could not. All he did was stare at the problem with no idea what to do next. His self-talk was, “I am a failure. I can’t fix the easiest thing. What is wrong with me that I am so dumb.”
These two people have something in common. Both operate from a fixed mindset. They believe that their intelligence and level of creativity are predetermined and cannot be changed. They either have what it takes to get the job done or not. They want to be successful, but believe something innate stops them. They are limited by their abilities and talents.
A mindset consists of our beliefs, how we see ourselves, our environment and response to it all. Think of a mindset like an orientation towards life challenges. Author and researcher Dr. Carol Dweck says there are two types of mindsets. One type measures success by talent and fixed traits (fixed mindset). The other measures success by learning and growing (growth mindset).
People with fixed mindsets doubt themselves when they fail or are criticized. They need constant approval and evaluate challenges through the lens of being a winner or loser. They avoid situations that make them uncomfortable, refuse to think they can change and stay stuck in negative patterns with other people and themselves.
A person with a growth mindset believes in change, growth and resiliency. In-born abilities can be developed, but they don’t determine success. Anything, positive or negative, can be used to learn. People with a growth mindset persevere with setbacks and don’t give up. They know that with practice, they can improve themselves.
If Abby had a growth mindset, she might think, this boss expects a lot, but he is giving me constructive criticism. Let me step back and analyze what he said and think about what I can do to improve the project. Perhaps I need to take a different approach and can come up with a few creative strategies.
For Jared, the key is to begin with the reality that he doesn’t have great home repair skills. His father never taught him, but he can learn. There are You Tube videos, friends and others willing to teach him basic handyman skills. With effort and persistence, he can develop handyman skills.
So, take a few moments to do a little self-reflection. How did you handle problems this week? Did you get defensive or accept feedback? Are you cultivating grit and not allowing failure to define you? Or are you defeated and discouraged because of setbacks? Can you create goals that keep you motivated and interested in new things? Basically, are you ready to grow in whatever circumstance you encounter? If you approach life with the idea that problems create opportunities to grow and learn, you have a growth mindset.
And consider this, having a fixed mindset is not consistent with Scripture. The idea that we can’t change and grow stands in direct contrast to the power of the gospel to transform our life. Spiritually, growth comes when we humble ourselves and recognizing the power of God in us to change us. The gospel is all about change and molding us to be more like Christ.
Furthermore, God equips us to do the things He calls us to do. Yes, in this life, we will have troubles. But how we respond to those troubles can create growth. Surrender to God and allow His Spirit to change you. His work is never done in us. He will continue to grow and lead you when you humble yourself to His work in you.Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?