What I’m referring to here is whether you are more of a fixed or a growth mindset. Let me explain. A while back a friend asked me if I could do a ‘pawtrait’ for her. It was commissioned as a gift and it was a toughie! See, I’d only picked up a paint brush around four months before and what she wanted was a painting of a rather fluffy dog. Now, I had done ‘pawtraits’ before, but the subjects had always been short haired dogs. I’d never tried anything that required me to get the texture and movement of the fur in quite this way.
I said yes. Then I panicked! Thoughts bounced around my head “can I do this?” “what if I can’t?” “will it undermine the confidence I had built in my artwork?” It was a risk, and I took it. I got to work and I made many, many mistakes. I watched tutorials, I practiced, I tried again. I learned. It became a labour of love. A challenge I would not be beaten by.
It only struck me afterwards that I had operated in a growth mindset. A mindset where, rather than be beaten at the first failed attempt, I learned, I improved and I succeeded. There were days where I would doubt myself, but I persevered. And the finished product was beautiful (sadly I can’t show you as it is a Christmas gift, so I’ve added some different paintings to catch your eye instead! )
When we are in a growth mindset we see challenges as opportunities to learn, to improve, to do better. We are resilient to the mistakes and open to new insights. This is the mindset of greatness. In society today it is easy to look at all the successful people and assume they just kind of ‘made it’ by some miracle, or by some talent they were born with.
This is rarely the case. Most successful people have tried and failed and tried again. They have stuck with it. They have taken the knocks, learned the lessons, got back up and kept going. They have kept moving, however slowly, towards their goal. Talent is developed, not freely given. It takes commitment, work and courage to keep going when things don’t quite go to plan. These are the opportunities to grow and to thrive.
So what then, is fixed mindset? Pretty much the opposite. It is a mindset that expects to do something perfectly first time, and when things don’t go to plan people with a fixed mindset will simply give up. The thing is, life isn’t always easy. We do take knocks and we do make mistakes. That is allowed. But developing a growth mindset helps to keep us resilient when the knocks occur. As Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I either win, or learn.”