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Fixed Mindset

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Most of my life, I was under the assumption that knowledge was fixed and that there was only so much I could do to improve as a person.

Of course, now I realize the limitations of my way of thinking. People with a fixed mindset tend to surround themselves with others that refuse to challenge their limited world-view. In Silicon Valley, for instance, or anywhere outside of Hollywood, there's a win-win mentality. In Washington D.C. and Hollywood, there is a zero-sum mentality because others view each other strangely as competition. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”

In a  competitive culture, there is always a winner and a loser, and, as a result, everyone is trying to be the brightest shining star. In a collaborative culture, there's less focus on individual achievement because the goal is to achieve success for the organization as a whole. 

An easy way to differentiate between the two cultures is to consider compensation plans. In collaborative cultures, bonuses are often based on a combination of individual results and team/divisional results. In competitive cultures team results rarely count; it's all about individual results. 

In essence, an organization can function either like a track team, where an individual athlete, such as the sprinter, gets the gold medal, or like a well-coached basketball team, where everyone works together to achieve a team win.

When you have a growth mindset, you no longer view others as competition because you realize that there's plenty of resources to go around and there's no harm in failing every now and then and sharing the spotlight with those who deserve recognition.

In social science, there's a theory about a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. People who harbor a fixed mindset tend to think that their talents and abilities are God-given or natural. 

Therefore, they do not work hard to improve these traits. People with a growth mindset do not believe that their talents and abilities are fixed. These people think that with enough deliberate practice, they can become more proficient through altering their mindset. 

The realm of possibilities are limitless despite those who claim that college is the sole route to prosperity in this country.

Those that think they can improve tend to do much better in the long-term because their thinking is much more positive. When confronted with bad grades or failing, people with a growth mindset do not take those problems to heart. Instead they learn from those errors and try their best to do better the next time.

After all, singers, athletes, leaders, and others are not born, but made. And, the credentials for these people vary, most of these star performers were dismissed at one point in their careers and decided to use their premature defeat to prove their superiors wrong.

Many people will never attain the level of wealth that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs accrued, but there's no reason why we should all aspire to make it into an Ivy League school, let alone view such a feat as proof of intellectual ability.

If you're using college grades to determine a person's value, how about the fact that over 50 percent of CEOs of major corporations had C or C- averages in college. And that 65 percent of U.S. senators and 75 percent of all U.S. presidents came from the bottom half of their class. How about all those incredibly successful entrepreneurs who never even graduated college, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs? Not to mention those who never made it to college or who didn't graduate from high school, such as Jim Clark who founded Silicon Graphics and Netscape.

Those with a growth mindset do not avoid problems and accept other people's views of reality. People with a growth mindset are the ones that succeed in spite of what everyone thinks about their competency or ability. These people rise above criticism and defy expectations because they believe that failure is the beginning of success.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
-Colin Powell

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