Mindsets: A View From Two Eras


This “Remarkable Resource” is taken from the Nov 2019 #happyacademic newsletter.

Source Article: (2019) Carol S Dweck & David S Yeager [LINK]

How can I maximize my changes of being and staying successful in life and work? Why do I feel strong negative emotions about parts of my academic work, other academics or criticism? How can I improve my ability to handle more and more complex work tasks?

This paper reports a historically important scoping review of past scientific research into the growth and fixed mindsets – key theories of intelligence that both explain some of the common reactions people have to success and failure in their work and life- and provide key insights into how to develop perspectives and practices you need to develop your brain’s ability to view difficulties more positively as learning and growth opportunities.

The papers is important because of the benefits developing your growth mindset can have. While we cover some of this research in How to be a Happy Academic – this wide-ranging review provides an up-to-date and extremely credible account of this body of key research. Anyone seeking to get better at learning, handling failure better, and increasing your chances of success should read it.

Key Messages

A large and diverse body of scientific research from across disciplines and decades consistently supports the high influence that growth over fixed mindsets can have on a person’s reactions to setbacks, capacity and inclination to improve, and overall wellbeing. To feel and be better, develop your growth mindset.

There is a growing body of high-quality evidence from interventions and programs (both in-person and electronic) which indicates that an individuals’ growth mindset in a given situation can be increased.

There is strong and consistent evidence that growth mindsets are not only held by individuals but are also evident in work cultures. These cultures influence hiring processes with the dominant mindset of most individuals tending to be mindset that is both dominant in the working culture and more common in new employees.

Key Applications

Do you say self improvement and learning’s important or even that you have a growth mindset but not devote regular and substantial time and effort to your own professional development. Prioritize your own learning more by allocating enough time to it in your calendar to reflect it’s importance: minimally one hour per week but hopefully much more! This is likely the most valuable priority you can set. While it’s tempting to always do more “real work” / email / writing – this ultimately gives less payback.

Do you or your emotions sometimes feel a slave to others’ compliments and negative feedback? It’s possible for us all to develop our growth mindsets. Recognizing everyone has more fixed mindsets in particular situations, identify the situations you get most defensive about and consider how you can develop your growth mindset in these more. Avoid expecting that it’s other people who must change and more consciously focus on: how you can develop how you see and handle these situations. Our most difficult learning often happens in the places we find hardest.
Consider how you can work to reduce fixed mindset thinking and behaviours in your working cultures – is success in outcomes celebrated or invoked more than learning, effort and progress? This common indication of fixed mindset working cultures can be challenged when you focus more on what you and others learned and improved in work situations or feedback.

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