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Mindset Definition, Types of Mindset, Growth, and Fixed Mindsets

What is mindset? Now, before I answer that question what is mindset? Let us look at, some of the differences, in outlook that is prevailing among people. Now, look at some of the examples, that I am going to quote and then try to see, what differentiates the attitude or outlook of the persons involved in the following cases. Now, in the first case, a famous shoe company sent two of its representatives to an island, to explore the chance of establishing a new unit.

The first representative, as soon as he reached the island, said in a very regretful tone, he sent the message, "No chance since nobody wears shoes on the island!" Whereas, the second representative, as soon as he reached the island, said in a very elated tone, he was very happy and sent the following message saying, that "Splendid opportunity since no one wears shoes!" If you look at it, the same situation, the same place, two different people, now why, one is thinking that it is completely lacking in opportunity and another one is just jumping in joy and then thinking that it’s full of opportunity. What is it? 

Now, look at the other examples, looking at a rose garden, one person said, "So beautiful, full of roses! But as the other person remarked: "So frightful, full of thorns!" Again, the same rose garden, what is it making these two people, tell different things? The same sun, one person felt that it was scorching heat and causing him lethargy, the other person found it very warm, pleasant and energetic! The same rain that was falling on all the people, one person found very depressing and unwelcome. He was wondering if one rain would leave him. 

Mindset Definition, Types of Mindset, Growth, and Fixed Mindsets
image source: pexels.com

The other person found it refreshing and most welcomed and he started writing a poem. Now, the same objects, same situation, same environment, why is it that people are responding in different ways? What is it making them look at the same thing differently? The answer is, that the difference lies in mindset. Now, what is mindset? After looking at various definitions, instead of giving you all the definitions immediately, I just thought that I will put you in a proper frame to understand what is a mindset, by giving a very overall comprehensive view of mindset. As I understand mindset: It refers to one’s attitude, one’s idea, notion, disposition, inclination, intention, habit, tendency, propensity, outlook, worldview, philosophy of life, way of thinking, way of observing, or way of interpreting.

Perspective, mood, state of mind, and mentality conditions one to act or respond in a manner that tells upon the personality of a person. What I am trying to tell you, it could be your attitude, it could be the idea that you have in your mind, it’s the notion, right notion, wrong notion, disposition, your tendency, your propensity to do something, and your inclination to something that is coming naturally, spontaneously in you to do something, the intention that you have, something that you have formed as a kind of habit, something that has developed as a kind of outlook, a worldview, a philosophy of life. That’s the way you look at things, in general, your way of thinking, your way of interpreting, the way even you observe things, like, if you look at the example in the rose garden, one person was observing only the thorns, the other person was observing only the flowers. 

The way you even observed, the perspective that you have, you can look at the sun as scorching, you can see the sun as something that is very warming, and energetic. The mood that sets in you, the same environment rain can make you feel depressive, can make you feel very inspired and write a poem. The state of mind, the mentality, the conditions want to act or respond in a manner that tells upon the personality of a person. 

Now, the way you think, the way you act on the environment, and the way you respond are actually telling what you have inside your mind. The belief that you have, and is about what I try to call a mindset. In fact, it’s not me who is trying to call it, it’s been already used and then popularized by one very famous psychologist Carol Dweck. I will talk about her, sooner or later. But, before we discuss her book, look at some dictionary definitions of mindset.

The free dictionary.com talks about mindset as, "a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations." It’s a habitual or characteristic mental attitude." This means that, even if you don’t think much about it, you have already patterned, okay, that is the way you will behave, your behavior in a given circumstance is becoming very anticipatory which determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.

Cambridge Online Dictionary says that "it’s a person’s way of thinking and their opinions." The way a person will think, and the way a person will give his or her opinion. That amounts to mindset. If you slightly go back and look at how the word actually originated and if you look at the history of mindset, it meant habits of mind formed by previous experience. In your own experience, you look at somebody, with whom you had some kind of faith, but then you learned that, that somebody actually created you.

Now, you have an experience of disappointment, betrayal, and then, every time in the future when you look at a similar person you tend to develop a stereotype of that facial or that kind of person’s physical structure. And you try to associate that and your mind has formed a kind of habit to think negatively about that kind of person.

Habits of mind formed by previous experience account for mindset. How do you identify certain types of mindsets? In fact, you can use mindset to any kind of habit, any kind of behavior, any kind of attitude that is shown, you may have a defense or offense mindset. If you have a defense or defensive mindset, you generally try to avoid conflicts. Even, while driving, you can be on the defensive or on the offensive, if you are on the defensive, you generally give way to others who want to overtake you, you are not in a hurry, you just, go at a normal speed. And, even if somebody is coming in front, you are willing to wait, till the person goes, although, the one who comes in the front is coming in a very aggressive manner, it doesn’t matter for you.

If you have an offense mindset, you are aggressive, you want to dominate, you want to put forward your views first, you want to be hurt, you want to establish that you know, you should be first, and you should be on the center stage, so you want to start everything first. And, you want the other person to be a passive receiver. You can have an environmentalist mindset, if you have that kind of environmentalist mindset, you have a concern for the environment, so you know that plastic is harmful. 

When you go to the shop, you avoid taking materials in a plastic bag, and then you go shopping with your own bag, or you go for paper bags, or you can go for anything that can be easily disposed of and recycled, but, not that will harm the environment. You will look forward to spending time in a natural surroundings and all that, if you have a technological mindset, you may believe in the technological singularity, that technology is going to dominate and technology is going to overpower everything else in the world.

It is a mindset because you have your own beliefs, and you have your own experience, and thought processes to think so. You may have the same mindset as so many people, who are in the class, who are in a group, you may have a different mindset than the rest of the people. Most geniuses if you look at, always thought ahead of the peer group, and they had a different kind of mindset. You may have a positive mindset, you may have a negative mindset, you may have an abundance mindset or the poverty mindset, or a scarcity mindset. Even in the previous course, I talked much about this.

The abundance mindset and the scarcity mindset: when you have an abundance mindset, you always believe that you will always have your own treasure. You don’t have to fight with others, if you work hard, you will get your reward. In the scarcity mindset, there is a thinking that, resources are scarce, so you have to be in the rat race, you have to fight with others and to get even what you actually deserve to get.

In that kind of thinking there is cutthroat competition, a very negative way of looking at other people, whereas, in the abundance mindset, the competition is healthy in the mindset that is poverty, or that is believing in the scarcity of resources. One thinks that only by killing the other person all energy and enthusiasm, so this person can establish himself or herself. You also have a growth mindset, that you tend to take a mindset of the group, okay, when you are not in the group, you tend to behave in a different manner.

There may be a public mindset, as opposed to a private mindset, there is a press mindset. Generally, when we talk about the press mindset, we know that how the press is just focused on highlighting something and there are times, when you see all newspapers, all media channels, will carry one single news throughout, as if nothing else is happening in the world. The press mindset is to be harping on something, focusing on something, and then blowing it up out of proportion.

Generally, we sort of associate, a kind of negative connotation to press mindset and so on. But, the most important mindset that you need to know, and that I am going to introduce this and that is very relevant for developing, as well as enhancing your soft skills and personality, is about, developing a growth mindset as against a fixed mindset. The most important mindset type that we will be discussing in this course is fixed and growth mindset. I will tell more about fixed and growth mindsets in the coming lecture, but again, before we go to that, I just want to tell you about the importance of mindset as such. Can we escape having a mindset? First of all, no! All of us have mindsets, okay! 

Even as I talk to you I have my own mindset, I have my own opinion, views, and perspective of even looking at this course. Now, you may have your own mindsets when you are receiving things. All of us have our own mindsets; and we work according to our own assumptions, our own perceptions, our own opinions— which are formed from our previous experiences or knowledge gained from the peer groups, whether we gather experience and form our own opinions, or we accumulate knowledge from the peer group. We make inferences from them and then act accordingly. We develop our own group mindset. All of us have mindsets and if you ask me the question, whether it is good or bad to have a mindset, first of all, you understand, that such a question is irrelevant.

Once I have said that all of us have mindsets. All of us possess it, but what is the relevance of asking such a question whether it is good to bad, whether it is good or bad to have a mindset. Instead of asking that, one should realize that either we should have a good mindset or a bad mindset, or is there something like that. To answer that I would say that, having a mindset, instead of putting relative terms as to whether it is a good mindset or a bad mindset. Having a mindset in general results in favorable things around you. Okay! That will give you favorable results, and a positive response from the people around, is always desirable, in that sense.

We are always interacting with our circumstances, we are always interacting with people around us, the environment. In the interaction, if you get a favorable positive response, whatever mindset you have maybe a desirable one. However, a mindset that brings in poor results and appears to be harmful to the people around, may not be desirable! A mindset of a dictator, the mindset of a serial killer, so these are all going to harm society as such. And, then even with a scarcity mindset, if you are supposed to work in a group, so you will always try to pull down others. Even, if they are better than you, you will not learn from them.

The harmful mindset, if I can elaborate more on that can eventually develop a kind of mental inertia and it gets frozen or fossilized and yields to a paradigm. What do I mean by having a harmful mindset? Anything that develops in the form of mental inertia, which means after some time, the mind will not progress, the mind will not think further, it gets frozen, it is not in a state of flux or thoughts get fossilized and you cannot change the pattern of thinking at all, and it yields to a paradigm, a pattern, which will result in actual patterning of behavior and repeated responses.

Time and again you will not change, you will not alter, you will not learn from a failed behavior, so you will continue to do the same thing, because, the mindset has let itself into mental inertia. In short, we can say that it has already become a fixed mindset, it becomes fixed, and then, there is inertia that has developed, and it is not able to grow further.

This is where I would like to introduce the famous book by Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist and based on her research on achievement and success published in 2006, her path-breaking book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. What is her focus on the book? She differentiates people with a growth mindset and those with fixed mindsets. In a fixed mindset, people believe that their abilities are fixed, They cannot change, and they do not flourish in life, whereas in, growth mindset people, as they believe that their abilities can be developed through hard work, good strategies, mentorship, contribution to outstanding achievements.

Now, the entire book is dedicated to how one should develop this. What are the limitations in keeping a fixed mindset and all that? Again, we will discuss those things in the coming lessons. But, before I go to that, this is another interesting thought on how to check whether you have a growth mindset or you have a fixed mindset and this is from Chloe Chong: I have given the detail at the end of this lecture, if you want you can just even go to the link and it is available online and it is in the form of an interesting infographic. It is in the form of pictures. The contents thought is something that goes like this— that tries to differentiate the fixed mind people with growth mindset people. There are eight points. Now, just see where you fit?

In the fixed mindset people normally try to avoid challenges. Whenever there is a challenge, they will try to avoid it, they will run away, and they will hide. Whereas, the growth mindset people, they welcome challenges because they see challenges as opportunities to change and grow. Fixed mindset people like status quo.

They hate changes. Any new thing that is introduced, however, new it may be, anything that will bring about change at a personal level, professional level, they hate it. Whereas growth mindset people embrace changes, they look forward to changes. They want to change themselves, change the environment, and make the place much better than it was before. Fixed mindset people focus on limitations. They always look at shortcomings, they always look at drawbacks in a situation. With a growth mindset people, look for opportunities.

Remember the first example I gave; Island people are not wearing shoes fixed mindset person who went as a representative thought that this is a major limitation because they cannot have a shoe factory there, as nobody will be wearing shoes. But, whereas, the growth mindset representative looked at that as, an enormous possibility of an opportunity to establish a big unit there because people are not wearing shoes; it only needs to tell them the importance of wearing and then make them enjoy wearing that, and once you make them do and then, there is a huge market and demand for failing shoes.

Fixed mindset people think that they cannot do anything, to change the situation, so they will not even do anything. They will not attempt to do anything to change it. Whereas growth mindset people think everything is possible even in a tight corner, even in a desperate situation, they will seek desperate remedies. They will try to find out some way or other to come out of that situation. Whereas fixed mindset people think that situation cannot be improved, and then, they accept it.

However, fixed mindset people do not accept criticism, so if anybody criticizes, if anybody points out some of their limitations, and drawbacks, in them, so they will react in a negative manner. They don’t even accept, they will try to find fault with the other person, and then they will try to snub. They will not receive it. Whereas, growth mindset people; treasure feedback, value feedback, use feedback to develop themselves, and would learn eagerly from the feedback that is given to them.

Fixed mindset people, they always prefer to stay in their comfort zone, they do not want to try anything new, because they are used to doing something the same way, the routine rut that they are used to. They do not want to change themselves, they do not want to try anything by coming out of their comfort zone. Whereas growth mindset people, they love to explore new things, they want to try out. If something is risky so that is all the more challenging, they just love to explore new things. Fixed mindset people, think their efforts are futile attempts, especially in a situation where they are bound to fail, so they may think that why try?

It is futile, it is hopeless to even try; the situation will not improve, and I am going to fail anyway. Whereas, growth mindset people, even if they know that there is this risk of failure, would fail, because they know that they can learn from some failures and they will work hard to develop themselves to achieve success in the future. They will make the same failure a howling success in the future, so they learn from the situation that cost them failure. They use new strategies, they will take feedback from mentors, from people who have already crossed that situation and they will work hard to change that failure into a huge success.

Fixed mindset people's attitude toward learning is different from the growth mindset people. Fixed mind people: interestingly, they stop learning after school or college. They think that learning is finished, once your school is over, once your college is over, they think that learning is finished, if they study till 12th standard, they think that after that they don’t have to learn anything or if they finish the graduation, they think that by graduation the learning is over. Whereas growth mindset people, for them, learning is a lifelong process and they keep learning till the end of their life. In fact, they devote every day, at least one hour up to three hours, to read new things, keeping themselves up-to-date, learning what is new what is happening what is setting the trend what is it that they have not learned so far? what is it that can even learn something like even a foreign language?

You will see a growth mindset in people learning even at the age of 60 or 70 and then they don’t mind learning it even just for the sake of learning or just for one small visit to a foreign country. Or just for the fun of watching a movie without getting it translated, or just reading that novel in the original language. So they keep learning, till the end of their life. Now, this is a brief catalog, a brief way of categorizing fixed mindset people and growth mindset people, and then you just see, where you fit in, especially if you are fitting in the fixed mindset people category. Then, you need to realize that, you need to slowly move towards this side of the growth mindset people. Again I will tell you, why it should be done and how it should be done in the coming lecture. But, in the meanwhile, let me conclude this lecture, with a very interesting thought from the author of this book Mindset-Carol Dweck. 

Quote-unquote from her, she says, "I have always been deeply moved by outstanding achievement and saddened by wasted potential" just think about this. What does she mean by this? "I have always been moved by outstanding achievement and saddened by wasted potential"? For further reference, I would suggest, that you may go to the site of Carol Dweck online and then I have given you the link. Where you can just know brief things about, what is mindset? Whether you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset, and then if you have time, you can buy the book, read from the book on your own the book, Mindset itself. And most interestingly, I would suggest that find some time to watch this TED talk ok there is a lecture by Carol Dweck.

Watch that lecture that’s about "The Power of Believing You Can Improve" meaning you can change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and then the brief information that I produced is from Chloe Chong on "8 Signs You Have A Growth Mindset That Makes You Mentally Stronger" is also available on lifehack.org, which, you can go for further reference and then look at the way it’s told to you, in a very pictorial manner.

Now, with this thought, on mindset, I would like you to give a deep thought about your own beliefs and then your own values and just ask yourself, where are you in terms of mindset? And then in the next lecture, let us look more at, what you can do, in case you are in a fixed one, and why you should change this fixed mindset? See you in the next lesson, until then, Bye! Have a nice day! And try to change your mindset if it is fixed.