According to recent research by Carol Dweck, there are two types of students.
Both types may show a lot of promise at first, but only one of the types typically goes on to achieve impressive results in their lives.
The other type tends to achieve less and less over time.
What are these two types of students? Those with a fixed mindset, and those with a growth mindset.
Students with a fixed mindset struggle more as time goes on, held back by anxiety and stress. They believe that their abilities are fixed, so if they fail at a task then that must mean they are incapable of it and should never try it again.
Meanwhile, students with a growth mindset flourish even when challenge increases. They believe that their abilities grow through trying new things, even if they fail. They tend to see failure as uncomfortable but useful and important.
"You’re in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way." —Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
As a result, according to Dweck's findings, students with growth mindsets are able to achieve results up to 3 times better than students with fixed mindsets. And that gap widens further over time.
Discovering what type of mindset you have could be the most important thing you do today.
Take the interactive test below to get started.
1. You're born with a certain amount of intelligence and it isn't something that can be changed.
2. Intelligence can increase or decrease depending on whether or not you spend time exercising your mind.
3. You can learn new things but you can't change your underlying level of intelligence.
4. Learning new things can increase your underlying intelligence.
5. Talent is something you're born with, not something you can develop.
6. If you practice something for long enough, you can develop a talent for it.
7. People who are good at a particular skill were born with a higher level of natural ability.
8. People who are good at a particular skill have spent a lot of time practising that skill, regardless of natural ability.
The findings of older research could be playing a part here. As a society, we used to believe that intelligence was very much fixed and that there was little point trying to 'become something that you're not'.
However, newer research is much more encouraging. There are studies on large numbers of subjects that show that mindset has a powerful impact on achievement. We can, in fact, become more than we were—no matter our age or initial ability levels.
Learning more about the latest research into how the brain works might inspire you. Read on to get started, and make sure to watch the short videos included below.
Having a growth mindset is a huge benefit in life, so make sure you keep it up.
Create daily reminders for yourself of the positive effects of this mindset. And help yourself even more by helping others whenever you can, to feel more positive about any challenges they're facing.
The quiz above is inspired by the work of Carol Dweck.
"Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training." —Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
The video below shows Carol Dweck herself giving a talk at a TED conference. She outlines her theories, research and findings in an engaging way. You can put her ideas into practice straight away (which means you'll be sure to get the top score in the quiz next time!).
This process is called 'neurogenesis' and scientists used to think it wasn't possible. However, the most recent research has found that it does actually happen.
The video below explains (in a way that's easy for non-scientists to understand) "the gift of neural plasticity -- the ways in which your brain actually changes at the cellular level as you learn".
Remind yourself daily, or whenever you're thinking about a challenging task, that success relies on persistence and coping with failure in a healthy way. Bookmark articles and videos that make you feel more positive about learning. Then you can return to them if you find yourself feeling discouraged.
Some people might be gifted with a natural talent but most people aren't—yet they can still become excellent if they keep practicing.
It's important to find your allies, too. These are people who support and motivate you, to help you if you feel discouraged in the face of a steep new challenge. They might also remind you not to worry too much about failures when they happen. After all, failures are usually the best opportunities to learn something that will make your next attempt a successful one.
"Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning." —Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Share in the comments, and don't forget to let us know your top tactics for keeping your mindset positive.