Many of us have had a fixed idea of what we can and cannot do from an early age. For example, someone may be good at languages and communication, but technology is something they are not good at. We tell ourselves “this is not who I am” and “they should take me as I am”. Consequently, we focus on the things we are good at and avoid our “weak points”.

This behaviour stems from a fear of failure and especially in our professional lives we want to prove ourselves and show that we are doing our job well. However, in a society and working environment that demands lifelong learning and continuous growth from us, such an attitude can prove problematic. Growth mindset’ is a concept that can help here.

Lifelong learning as a challenge

Anyone who has been in a certain job for a while can look back at “so many years ago” and easily see that many additional tasks and responsibilities have been added since then. Higher targets and more technological knowledge, for example, are things that we as professionals have had to adapt to in recent years.

A higher workload also requires highly developed organisational skills and efficient time management. We live in a world of continuous growth. Change is everywhere.

While that change can lead to wonderful results, for many it can also result in frustration, a feeling of failure or inadequacy. In a worst case scenario, all those new demands and developments can even become substantial energy guzzlers and possibly lead to burnout.

It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest – Carol Dweck

Growth versus fixed mindset

We can respond to this evolution in two ways. Either we continue to believe that we really can’t do something, or we open ourselves up to the possibility that we are indeed capable of acquiring new skills from which we can derive great benefit in the long run.

This brings us to the concept of “growth versus fixed mindset” by the American professor of psychology Carol Dweck.

People with a fixed mindset believe that their talents are immutable qualities; they are afraid to learn something new because this could lead to failure.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, means that you are convinced that you can acquire new skills through training, effort and perseverance and that you can continue to grow as a person.

What did you learn today? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What dit you try hard at today? – Carol Dweck

People with a growth mindset are eager to learn, like to seize new opportunities and see failure as an opportunity to learn something new. By no longer looking at our talents as a fixed set of good and bad qualities, we change our inner dialogue and also our way of dealing with new challenges.

Want to know how to evolve from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Here are 6 tips to get you started