Which Mindset Do YOU Have?

I have recently read a book that has rocked my world and I want to turn you onto it as well because I think it has HUGE implications for musicians.   I am talking about Dr. Carol S. Dweck’s book, Mindset  Run— don’t walk—to the nearest bookstore and purchase it or log onto Amazon and order it today!

What if it wasn’t our abilities or talent that bring us success, but whether we approach our goals with the most effective mindset?

Dr. Dweck is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation.  Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster that success.   She has spent years studying and researching how people cope with challenges, setbacks, and criticism.  (things musicians know quite a bit about!)  In Mindset, Dr. Dweck asks and answers a bold question, “How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life.”  Curious?  What is this simple belief?

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.  It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

Dr. Dweck describes the two different views or mindsets we adopt.  One leads to one way of thinking and behaving and the other leads to a totally different way of thinking and behaving.  I have summarized the “voice” of the two mindsets in the following chart.  See if you recognize your own voice in any of these statements:

Most likely you recognized statements from both mindsets, but which voice do you identify with the most—Mindset #1 or Mindset #2?   Dr. Dweck calls Mindset #1 the fixed mindset and Mindset #2 the growth mindset.     Performers acting out of the fixed mindset believe that their abilities or talent is carved in stone, or fixed.  This creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over again.   A frightening thought for the performer in the fixed mindset is playing or singing their best and still not succeeding and you know what “not succeeding” means to someone in this mindset?  FAILURE.  We’re not talking “I just messed up.” or “I really tanked in that audition.”  Performers with the fixed mindset identify with their failure and conclude, “I AM the failure.”

Performers acting out of the growth mindset believe that every experience is an opportunity for growth, discovery, and learning.  “The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities—talent, abilities, and skills—are things you can cultivate through your efforts.”  Performers operating out of the growth mindset recognize that years of passion, hard work, and training will result in a lifetime of stretching, learning and developing into what they want to be.  Their focus is definitely on the journey!

The great messages here are:

  • Effort is good and necessary!
  • Success through learning and discovering, is made, not born!
  • If you don’t have the mindset you want, you can CHANGE!

What mindset do YOU have?

What kind of things do you hear yourself saying?

Things that keep you open to learning or things that mean you’re trying to prove that you’re really good enough?

No matter which mindset you are currently in, read this book!   Although it is based on years of research, it is a wonderfully accessible read and chock full of great examples from music, sports, and the headlines.  I really want to hear your response even if you have already read it!  Please leave me a comment.

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  1. Hi Diana

    Like yourself when I uncovered the concept of the growth mindset, suddenly a lot of things fell into place about the learning process.

    What I have also discovered is that the growth mindset is part of something bigger called “the Succeeding Mindset” and consists of 6 aspects, they being:

    Simplicity Thinking
    Growth Mindset
    Proactive Learner
    Internal Motivation
    Inner Peace
    Strong Character Strengths

    and when worked to you can only head up.

    The opposite is “the Failing Mindset” and consists of:

    Complexity Thinking
    Fixed Mindset
    Passive Learner
    External Motivation
    Inner Turmoil
    Weak Character Strengths

    And when working from these aspects, it only drags you down.

    An interesting experiment to try if you want to clear a room and make people uncomfortable is to talk about mindsets and character strengths, especially honesty, integrity and sincerity because at the moment these are taboo subjects which people would rather avoid because it shines a light on peoples lack of each.

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