“Mindset” by Carol Dweck

AUTHOR: Carol Dweck

AUTHOR: Carol Dweck

How often do you catch yourself speaking negatively to yourself? When we constantly repeat that we can’t do something, it starts to become real. This internal dialogue can be detrimental to any progress we want to make because our mindset is fixed and we do not let allow ourselves to grow. When we become more open minded, we start to open ourselves up to new possibilities and solutions. As a result, we need to learn to keep growing, learning and changing with our experiences. 

To understand how we can achieve our goals by changing our mindset, we recommend the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck to support Chapter 4 “Know Thyself” of the Diplomatic Planner. Dweck reminds us that we have ultimate control over how our mind grows. Unlike the shape of our skull or the size of our feet, we have the ability to really shape our minds and work on changing this. Our mindset plays a crucial role in how we see ourselves and the world. Our mindset shapes our beliefs and our relationships. 

Dweck describes our mindsets in two forms: fixed versus growth mindset – this is the crux of her book.  

She notes that people with a fixed mindset believe they are born as naturally gifted at some things and incapable of doing others. In contract, someone with a growth mindset believes that they can do anything if they try hard enough. For a growth mindset to truly flourish, we seek change through learning, being active in relationships, and continuing growth in all sorts of form. The ability to not stay stuck in one belief, point of view, attitude, behaviour is very important here. Someone with a fixed mindset is unlikely to change their way and therefore have a very rigid attitude and way of doing things. This rigid way of thinking obstructs them from developing which often leads to them burying their heads in the sand or blaming others.

A person with a fixed mindset believe in talent and that skills are set in stone. This means no further learning is require and anyone without talent is either stupid or incompetent, and will continue to stay like that. A natural aptitude is required and that practice does not make perfect. Since they are quick to judge themselves and other people as being good or bad at something, they assume that others are judging them in the same way, which means constantly seeking approval to protect their egos.

In addition, failure has dramatic repercussions and do not believe that they can learn from their mistakes. Failure devalues them and all past successes, and therefore will make excuses, cheat or lose interest if failure is looking inevitable. As a result, they do not seek help or analyse their own weaknesses because as a finished product, they have nothing else to learn.

Someone with a growth mindset see endless possibilities when there is hard work, dedication and perseverance behind it. The satisfaction of pushing oneself to the limits of potential growth is high on their agenda, even if it means never perfecting something. However, someone with this mindset is aware that it is only through practice and occassional failure that they can improve their skills. They welcome problems and see them as challenges rather than an obstacle, and are willing to put all of their energy behind it to improve the situation. By relishing opportunities, being aware of your weaknesses and be willing to work on improvement, you are putting yourself in a position to be fluid with your learning and growth yourself as a person with each new opportunity. Challenges give people with a growth mindset the opportunity to pursue purpose-filled actions and really strive for the impossible.

The book is filled with examples of people with both fixed and growth mindsets and what to do about it. This includes how to learn whether a child has a growth or fixed mindset, and how to nurture growth as a role model and strategies on how to help a fixed mindset become a little more open minded. The author reminds us that our mindset is not predetermined and can change when we adopt the mindsets of our role models. We must not be a victim of our surroundings when developing our mindset. We can train our brain like any other muscle if we open ourselves to learn one step at a time.

Working towards a growth mindset presents a great opportunity to each out to others for support, talk about our mistakes and faults, and create a plan to achieve our goals. It isn’t easy to re-train our minds from being fixed. You will need to confront difficult issues and getting rid of it can be extremely uncomfortable. As long as we adopt the growth perspective in certain situations, things will improve with time.

“Mindset” is recommended for the purposes of the Diplomatic Planner. The Diplomatic Planner is a 12-month career development for diplomacy and internationals for professionals looking to explore or grow their expertise in the field. Both books are available for purchase via Amazon. For further recommendations, insights, case studies and practicable worksheets, please join the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy via: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/register