Published: 02nd September 2019
Here's how the 'learning mindset' can help you top the class
People with a Fixed Mindset believe the effort is fruitless – how can they be ‘smart’ if they work hard? On the other hand, people with a Learning Mindset see effort as the key to mastery
‘So how’re things juniors?’ asked Rakesh in the college canteen. ‘Are you two planning to top your class this year?’
Rahul laughed. ‘Rakesh bhaiyya, I’ve always been an average student. I won’t suddenly turn intelligent.’
Rinku asked. ‘Rakesh bhaiyya, is that true? Will Rahul always be average?’
‘Rahul can top too,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘There’s a way.’
‘What?’ said Rahul. ‘Are you serious?’
‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘That’s what Dr. Carol Dweck says in her book ‘Mindset’. She says intelligence is not fixed. The more you use it the better it gets.’
‘Wow!’ Said Rinku. ‘How?’
‘We have two mindsets,’ said Rakesh. ‘Fixed mindset and the Learning or Growth mindset. It’s which Mindset we choose that makes the difference.’
‘What’s the Fixed Mindset?’ asked Rahul.
‘People with the fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed, and cannot be improved. That’s’ not true. Whatever level you are at today – in academics, sports, arts etc - is because of the exposure, training and hours you’ve have put in to master the subject. But that can be changed. What stops you from getting better than average is the Fixed Mindset.’
‘How?’ asked Rinku.
‘People with the Fixed Mindset desire to look ‘smart’ i.e. do not try anything new for fear of failing,’ said Rakesh. ‘They believe they can achieve excellence without extra effort, which is not possible. They avoid tough challenges because they do not look ‘smart’ when they fail or struggle. They compete against lesser players to look good. They don’t ask for help because it makes them look foolish. They ignore criticism, blame others and find excuses. To me, that’s a sure way to stop growing. You agree?’
‘Yes,’ sighed Rahul. ‘Not ‘smart’ at all. What’s the growth mindset then?’
‘People with the Growth Mindset only desire to learn and grow constantly - not look ‘smart’. They take on tougher challenges without fearing failure because they want to learn. They work doubly hard to tackle a tough challenge. They play with better players, persist, and seek help from every source. They learn from criticism, from successful players. Over a period of time, they will top.’
‘Oh!’ said Rahul. ‘It involves work.’
‘Yes, the main difference is effort. People with a Fixed Mindset believe the effort is fruitless – how can they be ‘smart’ if they work hard? On the other hand, people with a Learning Mindset see effort as the key to mastery. Take two people with the same intelligence – one working one hour a day and the other, five hours a day. With a Fixed Mindset, it translates to 30 hours a month and not seeking help to fix shortcomings. For the Learning Mindset, it is 150 hours a month, seeking help from every source and constant growth. Who do you think will top?’
‘The Growth Mindset,’ said Rinku. ‘Even an average mind can get that.’
‘So, Rahul?’ said Rakesh.
‘I’ll adopt the Learning Mindset right away bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I can top too. No excuses.’
‘Congratulations topper,’ said Rakesh. ‘Go for it then.’