I recently came across a concept that was so blow-your-mind-good I HAD to share.

According to Carol Dweck Ph.D., an author & Stanford professor, most of us walk around with either a “fixed” or “growth” mindset.

Dweck writes, “People with fixed mindset believe talents and abilities are inborn and carved in stone. Growth mindset people believe success is a result of effort as much as, or more than aptitude.”

I grew up with a fixed mindset, always believing “truths” like, “I’m not good at foreign languages,” “I’m not athletic,” and “I can’t sing” (ok I really can’t).

After learning the fixed mindset concept, I can TOTALLY see how the idea that my talents were “God given” and set in stone limited me.

Which begs the question – did I pass this fixed mindset onto my teenage son?

It appears so.

According to Dr. Dweck, the number 1 priority for Fixed Mindset kids is to look smart at all times (and at all costs) and that’s certainly the case for him.

Turns out the fixed mindset is a poison pill we feed our kids!

He hates (and I do mean hates) not knowing what he’s doing, hates looking like he’s failing, doesn’t want to look stupid and/or fall behind.

Ugh!

It stings just to write that because I fear that we (hubby and I) have taught him this fixed mindset by overpraising his results.

This has led him to stop trying and/or give up too soon if his fears get triggered.

Again according to Dr. Dweck, the Growth Mindset kids believe the goal is to LEARN at all times and at all costs. I want that for my boy!

>>I want him to know life is about effort and passion, not about inborn ability.

>>I want him to understand that he can keep going, keep trying, and keep putting in the effort – even if an activity feels a bit hard or “unnatural” at first.

>>I want him to get that talent and skill are NOT set in stone, but actually take time to hone and develop.

So I have begun by introducing this concept to him. We talked about being an intentional growth mindset family, we practice using Growth Mindset language with each other, and we point out when we see someone use fixed mindset words. And most of all? My husband and I are rewiring our own brains to praise our son’s effort rather than his results.

This process feels so much better and I know it’s ultimately supporting my son to really be anything he wants to be (which at the moment is a basketball-playing gemologist who sells real estate and moonlights as a YouTube sensation – I know he can do it!).

P.S.- Funny thing also happened along with way…instilling the importance of a growth mindset in my son has started to rub off on me! I find myself with a whole new (and far more empowering) attitude about my abilities as a coach, speaker, and author! While I was once consumed by self, doubt, I now feel a deeper sense that NOTHING is off limits for me or unimaginable!

Lisa Smith
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Lisa Smith