As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. A well laid out infographic can communicate very effectively what may have taken years of research to conclude. A great example of this is the one by Nigel Holmes of Carol Dweck’s model on mindsets that I recently came across, and think every entrepreneur should hang in their office. In fact, the way the world is going, with technology redefining the economic interaction landscape for us today and for generations to come, I believe everyone involved in raising or educating the new generations should post it in a place where they can see it frequently.
The graphic summarizes two sets of people: in one hand, believers that intelligence is static, who will avoid challenges, give up easily, ignore negative feedback, see no value in effort and feel threatened by the success of others. They have a deterministic view of the world and are condemned to not achieving their full potential. On the other hand, believers that intelligence can be developed, who will embrace challenges, persist over setbacks, learn from other’s criticism, value effort as a path to mastery and find inspiration and learn from the success of others. These people have a greater sense of free will, and will reach higher levels of achievement.
The first group is defined as having a fixed mindset, versus the second group’s growth mindset. A growth mindset leads to a desire to learn, and adopt the behaviors explained above. The fixed mindset leads to a desire to look smart. And looks aren’t everything, as you should know.
Where do you fall in this model? If you are reading this it is very likely you are an aspiring entrepreneur. You may have adopted most of the behaviors I explain above, which I took straight from the graphic (that you should look up online, IMHO).
Do you take negative criticism well? Does taking it well mean you nod, agree, and not get visibly upset by the criticizer, but then go on without pondering change? That reaction, I think, does not fully cut it. That is what Dweck would call “catching yourself” in an automatic pattern of thought that could hinder your growth. That is your fixed mindset voice speaking to you. Suddenly, you are in the “devil and the angel” on each shoulder scene, in your favorite Warner Brothers cartoon.
What can you do? Dweck suggests you learn to hear your fixed mindset voice. This is the voice that tells you that things are too difficult, and there’s no sense in changing because you’ve come to this point successfully doing things the old way. You need to then recognize you have a choice. What you believe, about what brought you successfully to this point, you believe out of habit, and it may not be right all the time. You then need to challenge the fixed mindset voice. Think about all the obstacles you overcame in the past through hard work, practice, study and persistence. Then choose the action that corresponds to the growth mindset action. Embrace the challenge brought on by criticism, take it one step at a time.
Again, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think the one which I describe here is a good example of that. But sometimes, the right couple of words at the right time, are conversely worth a thousand pictures, as is usually the case when uttered by growth minded individuals. So, take your pick, get a print of this picture and paste it to your wall, or, follow Steve Job’s final advice to the Stanford 2005 graduates: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”