Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mindset: Fixed or Growth?

"In this book, you'll learn how a simple belief about yourself--a belief we discovered in our research--guides a large part of your life.  In fact, it permeates every part of your life.  Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of this 'mindset.'  Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it."  Carol Dweck, in Mindset, says that people either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.  And, this view affects all aspects of life such as business, school, relationships, parenting, and marriage.

Don't let the subtitle throw you:  "The New Psychology of Success."  Essentially what Dr. Dweck has researched is the simple premise of Braveheart that success depends on the courage to try.  The Braveheart idea is rooted in Colossians 3:21:  "Fathers, don’t exasperate your children that they lose heart." The opposite of a lost heart is having heart, a “braveheart" which is especially important in a world with fears at every turn where it is easy to freeze and not grow.

Dweck concurs that children are born with heart and it is something they lose:  "Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn...What could put an end to this exuberant learning?  The fixed mindset.  As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges.  They become afraid of not being smart.  I have studied thousands of people from preschoolers on, and it's breathtaking how many reject an opportunity to learn."  We can exasperate children so quickly by comparing their abilities to others or praising intelligence instead of effort, creating a lost heart with a fixed mindset instead of keeping the heart to try and discover.

Mindset is worth reading.  I flagged thirteen chunks to share, and there could be more.  The concept and Dweck's exploration of its effect in life is sound and points to the reasons a braveheart succeeds.  Dweck is not as strong on "how" you get a growth mindset, but goes there with statements like:  "The idea that they are worthy and will be loved is crucial for children, and--if a child is unsure about being valued or loved--the fixed mindset appears to offer a simple, straightforward route to this."  And, "It's not that growth-minded parents indulge and coddle their children.  Not at all.  They set high standards, but they teach the children how to reach them.  They say no, but it's a fair, thoughtful, and respectful no...What is the message I'm sending here:  I will judge and punish you?  Or I will help you think and learn?"

A major key for many of us, as Dweck says, is just understanding that there are two mindsets.  And, then considering which we are.   Then, we can keep the awareness active as we raise our children.  Knowledge that a parent can cause a child to lose heart or can help a child be a braveheart is a great beginning.  Our every word or action helps stamp one approach or the other in the mind of our children.  And, with this awareness, search Scripture for eternal truths of "how" to raise a braveheart, a child with a growth mindset and all of its benefits.

Before leaving behind my thirteen ideas I would love to quote, let me share a favorite on the value of praise in developing mindset.  From Dweck: 

"Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence--like a gift--by praising their brains and talent.  It doesn't work, and in fact it has the opposite effect.  It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong.  If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.  That way, their children don't have to be slaves of praise.  They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence."

Test Dweck's ideas (you can look at against truth of Scripture.  Be encouraged that research shows what God says works.  She has some great thoughts.  Let's build bravehearts with a growth mindset.

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