Sometimes I read two very different books back to back and find unexpected connections.
In Mindset, Carol S. Dweck describes the fixed and growth mindsets and how these two different ways of approaching life can affect our success and happiness.
In the Growth Mindset, we believe that intelligence can be developed, leading to a desire to learn. In this mindset we embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see our efforts as a path to learning and mastery, and welcome feedback. We find lessons and inspiration from the success of others. In the growth mindset, we may reach ever-higher levels of achievement.
In the Fixed Mindset, the belief is that intelligence is static, leading to a desire to appear smart and prove oneself. In this mindset, one has a tendency to avoid challenges, get defensive or give up easily, see effort as fruitless, ignore useful feedback, and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, people with a fixed mindset may plateau early and achieve less than their potential.
On my recent travels to Nova Scotia, I vividly witnessed the results of a growth mindset in the lives of Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell. I visited the Alexander Graham Bell Museum National Historic Site in Baddeck and also read a biography about Bell's wife, Mabel Bell: Alexander's Silent Partner by Lilias M. Toward.
Alexander Graham Bell vigorously pursued his many interests. Extremely curious, he often went off in many directions, much to the regret of his partners and investors. He also persevered even when he had setbacks and failure.
Out of this curiosity came his many inventions and experiments - the telephone, hydrofoils, aeronautics, medical research and education systems for the deaf, to name just a few areas of his work.
Mabel Bell became deaf after contracting scarlet fever as a child. Her parents believed that she could and should be educated just like other children. This was a novel idea at that time. Not only did her parents provide her with an education and a growth mindset, they went on to develop educational opportunities for other deaf children that didn't have the financial resources that they had.
Dweck writes, "In one world, (the fixed mindset) effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you're not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn't need effort. In the other world, (growth mindset) effort is what makes you smart or talented. You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They're powerful beliefs, but they're just something in your mind, and you can change your mind."
Mabel Bell studied hard and exposed herself to many people, ideas, and opportunities over her lifetime. Her belief system allowed her to pursue her own many interests and talents and manage the business affairs and career of Alexander Graham Bell. It was through Bell's efforts and his diligence that he made his many discoveries.
To learn ways to develop and enhance a growth mindset, I encourage you to read and practice the ideas in Dweck's book, Mindset.
Joining you in lifelong learning,