Fixed theory means that you believe people succeed more because of natural talent than because of hard work, motivation, and dedication. Someone with a fixed mindset might think that intelligence, creativity, fitness and a slew of other traits are things people are born with.
People who have a growth theory believe that their capabilities can change and improve overtime. These people tend to see challenges as learning opportunities and successful peers as inspiration rather than threats. People with a growth mindset believe that dreams come through hard work.
I do believe that people with a growth mindset are more likely to fulfill their goals and be more happy in life than those with a fixed mindset but this isn’t a debate on which theory is better. There are reasons to have a fixed mindset on certain things and there are reasons to have a growth mindset on certain things.
If you are a man who is 6’0 or shorter by your senior year in high school then it’s okay to have a fixed mindset that you will not make it to the NBA and you should consider other career goals. The NBA is a sport that is designed for taller than average men. If you are 6’9 then it’s okay to have a growth mindset on playing in the NBA because you naturally have the height that many basketball teams want. All you have to do is develop your basketball skills.
The majority of dreams come true through hard work and not merely through natural talent, but there are things in life that cannot be accomplished through hard work and that you have to be gifted at. Like singing. You can’t practice your way to being a great singer. Most successful singers were born with a good voice and they developed their vocals to better tones and whatnot. There are some people who were born with an okay voice and practiced their way to something better, but it’s as clear as day and night between those who were born with a singing voice and those who practiced their voice.
I have a fixed mindset about being a singer. I wasn’t born with a passion to sing and no one ever told me that I can sing. And it would take too much effort for me to practice my way to a decent singing voice.
Now, when it comes to creative writing I used to have a fixed mindset but now I have a growth mindset. One day I was reading a book by Ted Dekker and I love the story so much that I felt like I could write a novel of my own. I got real excited thinking about myself being a published writer and having my story turn into a worldwide hit movie like Harry Potter and Twilight.
So that excitement drove me to start writing my story. But once writers block hit, or when things in life happened that caused me to miss a few days of writing and I have to back track to remember where I was going with the story, and when I realized that once I finished the first draft I would have to read the whole story and write another draft and possibly a third one–I developed a fixed theory and started doubting myself. Like if writing is my passion then why don’t I love writing everyday? Why do I dread writing somedays? Why do I struggle to write 1,000 to 2,000 words? Surely Stephen King and James Patterson wake up anxious everyday to get back to their story.
Even the great writers have writers block and have to make a deliberate decision to write rather than just feeling jolly to write everyday. This is why many people never finish their novel because once the adrenaline from thinking of an awesome story idea wears off and you reached a hard point where you don’t know how to move the story forward, or you feel like you’re not writing enough words everyday or on the days that you write, people tend to give up on the process altogether believing that they don’t have the natural talent to finish writing a story. If writing is your goal, then I’ll tell you now that it is 90% consistent hard work and 10% talent.
The only talent to writing is having the ability to create story ideas and awesome characters, and plot and so on. The rest of being a writer is the hard work it takes to write multiple drafts, to meet writing goals, to not get distracted when you have writers block.
In 2012 I bought an electric guitar in hopes of being good enough to play some of my favorite songs. I would practice for about ten minutes then get distracted from something else. In 2014 I joined the Army, left my guitar at home and I haven’t touched a guitar since.
When I bought that guitar I had a fixed theory about becoming a guitarist. I was already 23, I didn’t feel like it was too late to learn but I also felt like I would have more time to practice if I had started as a kid. I was super excited thinking about being good at playing the guitar, but my motivation diminished when I actually had to sit down and practice when I really wish I could just magically start playing my favorite songs.
If I had a growth theory about playing the guitar then I would take pride in the journey in learning the basics even things I didn’t want to do like learn how to read music. I would have understood that if I wanted to play like my favorite rock stars then I would have to dedicate at least 1 to 2 hours everyday practicing the basics of guitar playing like posture, hand movements, etc. It has been 8 years since I bought my guitar. If I had kept a growth mindset since then, then I most likely would be pretty good by now and able to play live.
With my newfound growth theory I can say that I’m 28 now, so in five years I’ll be 33. If I make a practice plan for the next five years then I should be able to play some of my favorite rock songs in five years. I have to get out of this mindset of instantly wanting to be a rockstar and realize that I don’t have to have natural talent to be a musician. All I need is to understand my circumstances now and make the best of the process.