Paradigms are the beliefs that we hold within ourselves; these paradigms shape the world and the way we see it. Imagine having several different pairs of glasses and each one has a different affect on what we see, bifocals, sunglasses, color tinted glasses: each pair will cause a completely different experience of life because of what we see. Paradigms shape and color our world, and making sure that we hold positive paradigms will ensure that we live happier, more productive lives. Contrary to popular belief, we get to choose our beliefs, we get to shape them and turn our world into whatever we desire. Today begin’s part of a series I’ll call “Positive Paradigms”, these paradigms (or belief sets) are beliefs about life, and about the world that will produce a positive and empowering effect on our lives.
Do you believe in talent? Do you often find yourself saying things like, “I’m not good at math”, “I’m not a people person”, “I’ve never been good at cooking”, or “I am too nice”? If you have ever found yourself saying one of these things or a similar statement, then you may have what is called a fixed mindset. Fixed mindset people believe that talent is inherited and that you are either good or bad at things. Even positive and effective people will often say they aren’t good at something, but the issue lies in how you say what you feel. When we state that we are no good at something, we make a final statement, we leave no room for change or improvement. The student who says he is no good at math has already doomed himself to being bad at math.
There are two distinctive mindsets about talent: Fixed mindset, and GROWTH mindset. To put it quite simply, people with a fixed mindset believe that talent is a special trait that is inherited or developed early on in life, they believe that skill is inherited not developed. If you believe that skill cannot be developed, then you won’t try to develop it at all.
So what do people with a growth mindset believe? They believe that skill is developed, not inherited. The benefits of this belief set can be staggering. Imagine having difficulty with math homework, but instead of becoming discouraged because you are no good, you become excited because you now have an opportunity to improve your skills. Imagine a world where adversity is welcomed, because challenging situations make you better.
For the person with a fixed mindset challenges are scary and unwelcome, after all, a challenge only serves to show how good or not good you are at something. If you believe that skill is talent, and that its inherited, then failing to perform well means you don’t have talent: it means you are no good. With the growth mindset we can welcome challenges, because challenge develops us and hones our skills. Failure is not a measure of how good at something we are, but instead is a learning opportunity to practice a new skill. People with growth mindsets believe if they aren’t good at something, practice will make them good. People with fixed mindsets believe if you aren’t good at something it’s because you weren’t born with it.
When you adopt a growth mindset, when you realize that skill is developed through hard work, dedication, practice, and time, you are truly free to do anything. I truly believe that I could be anything in life I choose. I am not good at arts and crafts, but I know if I decide to I can practice and over time I will. I know I didn’t do well in math as a kid, but if I choose to practice and improve I can, I know that the first time I did brazilian jiu-jitsu I was terrible, but I know today I am very skilled and knowledgable. All things can be developed: skills, character traits, physical attributes, knowledge, and crafts. It doesn’t matter what you are currently doing, or what you have historically been no good at, if you commit to getting better and practicing, you will get better, you will develop what you want.
When you realize that you can be good at anything, you can be whatever and whoever you want, you can master any skill or craft: you are free. There is no more overwhelming fear of inadequacy or judgement, because even if others judge you as no good, if you keep practicing you will prove them wrong eventually. Many people carry a fixed mindset, they believe talent is inherited and either you are good at something or you aren’t, these people will often hate you for trying and they will often harshly judge people who achieve success (especially if they came from nothing). Paradigms are powerful and our minds will only support evidence that support our beliefs. Just know that anything you want to be good at, you can. The world is yours.
You can read more about growth and fixed mindset here.