Mindset change impacts lives and success

People with a fixed mindset hinder their development due to their belief in “natural” talents and their adherence from failure. People with a growth mindset perceive challenges as an opportunity to achieve their dreams. 


Fixed mindset

Many people believe talent is the most important aspect of a person’s abilities. They believe that a person’s talents are set from the moment they were born; a person is, naturally, either intelligent and talented or stupid and inefficient, and this is unchangeable.

Companies such as Enron and McKinsey adopt this way of thinking. Their HR departments invest large sums of funds into searching for these “naturals” at schools. These hired graduates are expected to immediately boost the company’s results with their abilities. Since these graduates are expected to know it all, they receive little to no training and do not have any career progression.

As a result, their performance is evaluated critically and constantly. This invokes the question: Are these graduates as smart as they appear or will their mistakes eventually reveal their lack of talent to finish the job?

Employment under fixed mindset

Employers with this mindset believe employees who are not perfect from Day 1 will never improve, hence, it would be more business-sound to fire them. Furthermore, such employers believe that people should only do things they have a natural ability for. As they are quick to determine whether people are good or bad at something, they assume they themselves are being judged as well.

Real life examples of both mindsets 

Those with a fixed mindset seek validation from other people, while those with a growth mindset seek progress. For example, Lee Iacocca, CEO of Chrysler Motors, only rose to his position when it was on the verge of closure. Fortunately, with the help of his decision-making skills and good judgement of people, the company rose to its current pinnacle.

However, his actions changed after the company’s huge success. He became dependent on the number of awards he had, boasting his high position in the company and channelling his energy into his image than the company’s development. Eventually, he relied on others’ approval of him to survive.

Iacocca demonstrated a fixed mindset. Others’ opinions of him mattered more than the company’s progress. He seeks to appear smart and gifted in front of people, instead of coming up with plans to improve his company.

Another contrasting example would be that of Lou Gerstner. Gerstner became CEO of IBM when it was closing down. Bogged down with a fixed mindset, much time and energy were wasted on internal conflicts instead of working and planning together. Every man for himself, this thinking would eventually lead to its downfall.

Subsequently, Gerstner dissolved the company’s hierarchies and built on teamwork, encouraging peer support within teams. With added communication platforms within the company, he lowered his position to that of his employees and this allowed him to have personal interactions with his workers.
Gerstner’s growth mindset allowed to him to create a conducive working environment. This pulled the focus away from the individual employee’s success and towards shared progress. One for all and all for one, the company thrived.

Fixed mindset versus growth mindset

People with a fixed mindset shun problems; those with a growth mindset embrace and work them.

Many things in life can only be achieved by working hard. When people with a fixed mindset face challenges, they view them only as risks – the more they work on something, the harder their image shatters if they fail it. As such, people with a fixed mindset can never outdo themselves. They fail to doubt their own talents and work on their flaws.

One prime example would be that of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. At the age of 10, Nadia was famous for her violin skills. When she turned 18, she held her violin incorrectly and her fingers grew stiffer. She was so afraid of failure she could not learn anything new and eventually, she abandoned the one thing she loved so much.

Actor Christopher Reeve was predicted by doctors, to be paralysed neck down for the rest of his life after his accident. However, his growth mindset allowed him to overcome this and he took hold of his situation. With a stringent and tiring training plan, he made the impossible possible. He could eventually move his entire upper body after practice.

Challenges give people with a growth mindset the opportunity to pursue purpose-filled actions. The more dejected they are, the more energy they put into fighting against – and rewriting – their fate. Like Reeve, they strive to make the impossible possible.

People with a fixed mindset hinder their development due to their belief in “natural” talents and their adherence from failure. People with a growth mindset perceive challenges as an opportunity to achieve their dreams. The more failure they face, the more effort they put in to fight against it. Similar to Reeve, they fight to make the impossible possible. By facing our own failures and working hard, we can realize our potential to the maximum, and develop a growth mindset.