For most of us, life consists of constant moments of analysis, definition, and reevaluation. Basically, we’re always trying to figure ourselves out. A strong sense of self can, in certain contexts, provide great clarity and comfort. Other times, however, we place ourselves in boxes that restrict our options and limit our successes.
One of the great modern insights into achievement and success comes from psychologist Carol Dweck, who introduced the concept of mindset. Mindsets are essentially the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our abilities:
— A fixed mindset believes that abilities are innate and static.
— A growth mindset believes that abilities are able to be improved.
Essentially, as the saying goes, if you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right. Since achievement depends so directly on mindset, we should be careful to cultivate a growth mindset in ourselves and others. Doing so, however, requires more than a cursory understanding of the concepts involved. Eduardo Briceño of Mindset Works helpfully refutes many misconceptions of mindsets in a recent article, but the central premise is worth emphasizing: believe in growth.
Test preparation is the perfect place for a growth mindset. Students who believe that qualities can change and that they can develop their intelligence and abilities have the requisite attitude for tremendous score improvement. Those who reject the premise remain stagnant. Are you feeling fixed in place? Believe in growth, then watch it happen!