How a Growth Mindset Can Make You a Better Learner

Living in a Static World

For a large chunk of my formal education I unconsciously operated from a fixed mindset. Living with a fixed mindset is quite limiting and debilitating. It comes with feelings of being victimized by the world. 

It was not until I started asking more from life and being willing to engage with it in a more curious manner that I began to discover that there was a whole world waiting for me outside my fixed mindset.

Fluidity

In my own personal experience it wasn’t like one day I became aware of what a growth mindset is and decided that this explains everything and this is who I am now. 

It has been a gradual and incremental process. I still feel like I live with both a fixed and a growth mindset. There are certain areas of my life that I am so fixed in that I’m not yet aware there is another way, but that is what makes life an adventure, when I uncover another blind spot a whole new area of the world opens up for me to explore.

My experience with Tech

I still don’t consider myself a tech genius but not so long ago I’m sure some tech people would have considered me a closet Luddite. I knew the bare minimum to get me by, I wasn’t curious about technology and I firmly believed I was not a tech guy — a belief that was reaffirmed by my environment.

Then one day I discovered that not all computer programmers are ‘math geniuses’ and I felt my mind open. I got curious and I started to work. I learned the fundamentals of HTML, CSS and Javascript so I could create the language learning website that I had in mind.

As I went through the process I discovered more and more limiting beliefs such as:

I can’t make a website, I don’t have a background in this.

I don’t know what I am doing.

People will find me out.

This is going to take years and go nowhere.

As I progressed and eventually made a website about 6 months later I began to realise how utterly unfounded some of my most entrenched beliefs were. Somehow I had taken on beliefs that were untrue yet had felt like the reality I was living in for years.

What the Science Says

The science says I am not alone. Growth mindset is an area that has shown great promise in transforming our relationship with learning and shining a light on the impact our mindset has on the learning process.

Research on brain plasticity has shown how connections between neurons can change with experience. With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones and builds insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. This malleability of the brain means that we are not fixed and we can indeed become smarter through effort and practice.

In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol Dweck highlights a key point as to why it is fundamental to gain a deeper understanding of the growth mindset. If our mindset doesn’t shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset then all the useful information in the world will be of little to no benefit:

Sure, people with the fixed mindset have read the books that say: Success is about being your best self, not about being better than others; failure is an opportunity, not a condemnation; effort is the key to success. But they can’t put this into practice because their basic mindset — their belief in fixed traits — is telling them something entirely different: that success is about being more gifted than others, that failure does measure you, and that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent.

What the Quantum Field Says

Your personality is your personal reality- Dr Joe Dispenza

I like a balance between science and the abstract and so I can appreciate diving into some quantum physics from time to time. The idea that your personality is your personal reality I think aligns well with the growth mindset. 

Dr Joe Dispenza believes that we can change our personal reality through changing our personality. My understanding of the growth mindset comes with the understanding that my personality is also dynamic and therefore up for grabs.

Therefore when I push myself outside my comfort zone and venture out into the unknown my reality tends to change as I take new actions and adapt my personality to where it needs to be to create impact and new results.

Take Action

If you would like to find out where you are on the continuum between fixed and growth mindset you can take the test here. To listen to actionable insights from people stepping out and leading their own life check out The Happy Mindset Show.