If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow

This article was in my drafts folder and I just got around to reading it:

WHY do some people reach their creative potential in business while other equally talented peers don’t?

After three decades of painstaking research, the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck believes that the answer to the puzzle lies in how people think about intelligence and talent. Those who believe they were born with all the smarts and gifts they’re ever going to have approach life with what she calls a “fixed mind-set.” Those who believe that their own abilities can expand over time, however, live with a “growth mind-set.”

Guess which ones prove to be most innovative over time.

“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

While some managers apply these principles every day, too many others instead believe that hiring the best and the brightest from top-flight schools guarantees corporate success.

The problem is that, having been identified as geniuses, the anointed become fearful of falling from grace. “It’s hard to move forward creatively and especially to foster teamwork if each person is trying to look like the biggest star in the constellation,” Ms. Dweck says.

But Ms. Dweck does not suggest that recruiters ignore innate talent. Instead, she suggests looking for both talent and a growth mind-set in prospective hires — people with a passion for learning who thrive on challenge and change.

People with a growth mind-set tend to demonstrate the kind of perseverance and resilience required to convert life’s setbacks into future successes. That ability to learn from experience was cited as the No. 1 ingredient for creative achievement in a poll of 143 creativity researchers cited in “Handbook of Creativity” in 1999.

Which leads one to ask: Is it possible to shift from a fixed mind-set to a growth mind-set?

Absolutely, according to Ms. Dweck. But, “it’s not easy to just let go of something that has felt like your self for many years,” she writes. Still, she says, “nothing is better than seeing people find their way to things they value.”

From The New York Times.

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