Think about the following situation:
It’s a rainy day. You forgot your jacket at home. You got a flat tire as you were riding your bike to school. You arrived late to class. Your professor glared at you. You spilled coffee on the paper you had to turn in, and you burned your hand in the process. You received your score from the past exam, and you got a C-.
How do you feel and react? What’s going through your head?
The attitudes we have during obstacle-ridden days are good illustrators of our mindset. Carol Dweck (2006) found two mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People with fixed mindsets believe that their talents, abilities, and qualities are carved in stone, whereas people with growth mindsets believe that their basic qualities such as talents and intelligence can be cultivated through their efforts (Dweck, 2006). Those with fixed mindsets avoid challenges, give up when obstacles get in their way, ignore criticism, and find the success of others threatening. Those with growth mindsets embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism, and are inspired by the success of others.
With the growth mindset, we can acknowledge our failures and find inspiration to keep improving. For example, getting a D on a paper is not the end-all of your college career. That D shows the potential for improvement and learning. The D might inspire you to work harder and seek out the resources and tools that will help you earn the grade you are capable of achieving. While the grade may be frustrating, your mindset will affect your response to either avoid the challenge or embrace the challenge and improve your work.