Becoming Is Better than Being: Elevate from a Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset.

July 03, 2019


“Talent isn’t passed down in the gene, it’s passed down in the mindset” 
Carol Dweck

I guess moments like these when you’re feeling lost and completely unsure of yourself is the perfect time to delve into the topic of mindset. Call it faith or happenstance but everything I’ve experienced this past week perfectly aligned with today’s topic. I haven’t been feeling my best as of late and my mindset about what I’m capable of doing with my life has been rocked a bit. With a new month upon us and half the year spent, this was a great opportunity to let go of the mental burden and free me from ruminating thoughts while being open about what’s going on. So, here’s the scoop:

Growing up I’ve had an ongoing problem where my knee dislocates for no apparent reason. I could be walking like normal when without notice, my left knee is no longer in its rightful place sending pain and confusion surging through my body. Throughout my adolescences, I avoided high contact sports and basically any type of activity that required heavy use of my legs for long periods of time. I quit doing dance even though I loved it and never pursued playing basketball despite growing interest in it. I’ve lived with a phobia of getting injured and acutely sensitive to people touching or making contact with my knees.

Late last year leading up to the new year, I saw an increase in knee pain and the number of close calls with dislocating it. Last month my left knee dislocated while walking into my bedroom and recently this past Friday while walking back to my desk at work. Not only has my knee been an issue but I’ve been dealing with joint pains in my right wrist as well. Sometimes it’s painful to draw or paint and it’s very problematic when doing digital work or during yoga practice. I haven’t been as physically active as in the past which in some ways plays a part in the decline of my physical health. The lack of affordability of health insurance and health care prevents me from seeking the medical attention needed to get my joints in good shape. I’m getting older and my body doesn’t heal in the way it once did so I’m faced with the challenge of trying to physically take care of my body while using my hands and physical strength to pursue this labor-intensive passion of mine.

Being faced with these physical alignments, it’s hard not to think of how fragile we are. I’m completely aware of how limited our time is here and I’m trying to put my best foot forward by not being so hard on myself but it’s difficult. I am willing to acknowledgment that I’m getting older and still have goals ahead of me that require being physically and mentally capable of staying in the game, but I can’t help but think of time as fleeting.

So what does all of this have to do with mindset?

Ever since reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, I’ve been obsessed with the notion of how our thinking affects our behavior. In her book, Carol explains that your perceptions or beliefs about your abilities and qualities shape the way you operate in life. Mindset is the viewpoint that you adopt for yourself that determines the way you live your life, see the world and make decisions. One of my biggest complaints with everything I’m learning to do is how long it will take me to do these things. I held onto this idea that people were born with their inherent talents and if you weren’t awesome at doing something then it wasn’t meant to be. Not once did I consider that skill and talent were a byproduct of time and continuous dedication. The concept that people could get better and grow into being a badass in their desired filed with practice seemed foreign. I was more so consumed with the results of effort rather than the process that goes behind growth.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

There are two types of mindset that people tend to have: Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset. In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.

A fixed mindset is a belief that your qualities are set in stone and cannot be changed which creates the urgency to continuously prove yourself. Those with a fixed mindset assume that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static and can’t be changed in any meaningful way. In other words, people with fixed mindsets believe that we are born with a fixed amount of intelligence, therefore, they avoid challenging themselves because if you only have a certain amount of intelligence, moral character, talent or success, you need to be validated in those areas. Striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Those with a growth mindset believe that everyone can change and grow through application and experience. Failure and challenges are viewed as a learning experience and an opportunity to expand. A growth mindset creates a passion for learning rather than a search for approval or validation and is founded on the belief that your basic qualities are cultivable with dedication, time and a commitment to getting better.

“As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road.” 
Carol Dweck

For a very long time, I was operating from a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. My self-talk included phrases such as “I can never be as good as ­­­____” “It would take me a lifetime to get to that level” and “what’s the point of working that hard if I will never be that good.” I had very limited belief in what I was capable of and for years it kept me stuck but wanting more. This past week I felt myself falling back into that mindset due to everything that’s been building with my physical health. I put myself down and briefly felt hopeless. What helped me take back control was rechanneling thoughts into action and making a conscious decision not downplay my accomplishments or entertain a mindset that didn’t promote growth. The mind really does control the way we act and if you think you’re not deserving of the things you want in life; you will cease to achieve it. Though my physical health is not where I want it to be, it will not prevent me from expanding in life.

Now that we are in a brand-new month and halfway through the year, how will you elevate your mindset from fixed to growth and get started on your goals? What steps can you take today to put you on the path of glowing up? If you’re unsure of where to begin, I recommend reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  It will help you identify where your thinking falls so you can apply these principals in your life. Have you read the book or have any takeaways? I would love to hear from another fellow curious creative. Comment and let me know of your experience in elevating your mindset and how it's impacted your creative process.

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