Psychologist Carol Dweck found that people can think about skill in two ways: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset is when we see skill as something that we are born with, which makes no sense at all. No baby is born good at math. Everybody starts out in the same place; bad at something. The growth mindset is a much more accurate representation of reality, and it says, “you can become skilled at something if you work hard at it.” This is right—in order to learn a skill, we must work hard at it.
So, why don’t we see skill as something that can be developed with hard work? I think it’s because we don’t want to be held responsible for our failures. As Muhammad Ali said, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.” The fixed mindset thus comes from a place of laziness and fear.
Have no fear in failure – it is just a stepping stone. There is always a lesson in every experience. Failure is an opportunity. A simple change in view, transforms the impossibility to a an opportunity to learn, better ourselves and be happy for the one step closer to getting what we want. With the growth mindset, anyone can flourish. Watch Dr. Dweck explain some pretty amazing data in her TED Talk below:
Learning a skill or being in school is not supposed to be easy. If it is, then our brains are not actively engaging with the world and creating new connections. If something is easy, then it is a waste of our time, and let’s not waste our lives. Teachers, tutors, and parents can improve the lives of children by instilling the growth mindset in them and not protecting them from failure or the “stepping stone.”