One of our team members had set up a fun lunch activity just before Halloween – decorating pumpkins! My feeling: “I’m just no good at this.”
With this reaction, I was exhibiting my Fixed Mindset about my skills and abilities when it comes to Art. I would have to say that I have probably had that mindset since about first grade!
In her excellent book, Mindset, which I highly recommend, Carol Dweck differentiates a Fixed Mindset – in which we think that our capabilities cannot change, from a Growth Mindset – where we believe that we can develop new capabilities.
And, we have different mindsets for different domains of activity.
So, for example, while I have had that Fixed Mindset in the domain of Art for a long time, I notice that I have a Growth Mindset about many other things. For example, I started taking Tai Chi classes this past fall. I tell friends that it is the most different thing I have ever done and I am really enjoying it – though I am still awkward at it.
The main takeaway for me is that if we want to be innovative then we have to adopt a Growth Mindset. If we find ourselves saying “I can’t” or “we can’t” or “we have tried it before,” then we are holding ourselves back from possibilities. We need to challenge one another in our teams to use that Growth Mindset to experiment, be open to learning, and allowing ourselves to fail a bit. The Fixed Mindset is about performing – and you have to perform perfectly every time. The Growth Mindset is about learning and improving over time.
In a Growth Mindset, the world is full of possibilities. Who knows . . . maybe I’ll get an Art coach and try some pumpkin painting again one of these days!