I’ve been pondering a question I saw in a book a few months ago. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success asks, “If you had to choose, which would it be? Loads of success and validation or lots of challenge?”
It brings me to what I’ve been observing more and more lately. That is the craving for attention. I don’t know if it’s due to our living in the age of instant gratification, you know the immediacy of expressing an opinion and posting it, or over-sharing.
Have you noticed it, too? It appears to be a constant need for external validation by others. The same people need to be “right” and want to appear smart. They copy others’ work and pass it off as their own. They don’t quote “quotes”; information is simply passed on without a reference.
They want uncritical acceptance and get upset if they are challenged. They lash out when someone asks a question or offers a different opinion. It’s as if their self esteem goes down if they‘re not readily agreed with.
Do you want people around you to be “yes” people – those who bolster your ego? Or do you want to spend time with those who challenge you to grow?
I understand that some folks are not strong in the face of confrontation. They have difficulty separating their own self-esteem from the opinions of others. They want to be seen as flawless, and talented and right.
This differs from another group that thrives on challenge. They see life as one change after another with the opportunity to learn and grow at every turn.
Which one are you?
Dweck divides people into “fixed” or “growth” mindsets. Here is my take on it, illustrated through a scenario I recently witnessed.
Imagine you receive a group email with an opinionated comment that everyone is expected to respond to. You’re not fully clear about the comment, so you:
A) do background learning to understand the comment before responding
B) leave it and agree because you don’t want to seem less knowledgeable by asking a “silly”
C) don’t want to hurt the other person’s ego so you just agree with the comment
D) ask more questions
There is no “right” answer to this question. That being said…
If you answered B and C a “fixed mindset” is being exhibited. This is where keeping the status quo, saving face, avoiding vulnerability by not risking asking a question is present. Interestingly enough, according to Dweck, this mindset tends to also feel special, superior, more worthy, and entitled.
If you answered A and D, a “growth mindset” is predominant. This mindset generally has a better likelihood of success because it loves challenge, change, learning and does not base feelings of “self’ on validation from others. They are most often energized by criticism. I think they are just plain better at receiving feedback. While they, too, may feel special, there is not the sense of being more valuable than others.
Another difference between the fixed and growth mindsets is that the fixed mindset has an underlying belief that intelligence is fixed, unchangeable and they generally downplay the value of learning and life experience.
Does any of this ring a bell? The cool thing is that we can be taught to have a growth mindset!
To learn more, I recommend you read “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. Cheering you on as you continue your journey in discovering who you are in the inside.