Carol Dweck

It's All In Your Mind(set)

I recently watched a TED Talk by Carol Dweck, a psychologist and researcher in the field of motivation, entitled "The Power of Believing That You Can Improve."  While the focus of her talk was on changing the culture around educating children, I was intrigued at how her premise could be applied to nonprofits, especially smaller nonprofits. Dweck refers to how different mindsets can lead to different results.  In her view of a fixed mindset, basic qualities, such as intelligence or talent, are traits that define everything. People with a fixed mindset document their intelligence and skills instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone can lead to success—without effort.  They are frustrated and stymied by their mistakes. I've seen many organizations try to succeed with this attitude, and never quite get there.

In contrast, with a growth mindset, basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. They learn from their errors and adapt as a result. This view creates a drive to grow and improve and a resilience that is the key to great accomplishment. Most great people (and great organizations) have these qualities.

Simply by adopting a growth mindset- the belief that you can improve- you can create a culture where problems or obstacles are viewed as something that hasn't been solved yet.  In fact, Dweck proposes that we use "not yet" as a measurement (or a grade, in the education arena) along the continuum of readiness to grow or adopt new abilities.

Organizations need leaders who can not only grasp the "big picture" but be able to respond to it in an open way. Having (or developing) a growth mindset can be integral to growth and success.

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