Believe You Can Change

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Our society pressures us to fit into types. You are athletic or artistic. You are an introvert or extrovert. You are emotional or logical. You are creative or rational. You are idealistic or realistic. You are a marketer or an engineer. They tell you that you can have only either of them. They talk us into thinking that you cannot have a bilateral character. They imply that your ability is fixed and you cannot change it.

Don't let them limit your potential. If you want to change, start from believing that you can change. This is not a BS motivational speech kind of thing. It is backed by science.

Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University found that people who believe they can change(growth mindset) perform better than those who believe that their abilities are fixed(fixed mindset).

In her study, she gave children a series of puzzles. They all solved the first easy one correctly. But the second one was too difficult to solve for all of them. Interestingly, those kids had a different reaction to the hard puzzle. It was clear that the kids with a growth mindset were excited by the challenge, while the kids with a fixed mindset were dismayed. Everyone failed to solve the second puzzle, but the experience of being challenged had different effects. This is where this experiment gets fascinating. She gave the third puzzle, which was easy to solve. Nearly all of the kids with a growth mindset solved the puzzle, but the kids with a fixed mindset had been discouraged by the inability to solve the hard problems that many of them failed to solve it.

In short, this experiment has shown that when challenged by difficult material, kids with a growth mindset are far more likely to rise to the level of the game, while kids with a fixed mindset are more brittle and prone to quit.

The good news is that Dweck also found that just teaching people this concept made them perform better. Teach yourself that your brain is like a muscle that can grow as you stress it. If you think about it, our true potential is unknown in any skill. How can anyone possibly foresee what can be accomplished with our effort?

So believe you can change.