Innovating Through Artistry

How do we change and grow?

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow on July 8, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Why do some people reach their creative potential and find a vehicle to share it and others struggle and stay stagnant? Do those who excel have a gene that allows them to flourish?

It seems to me that if you are open to change and growth and not believing your ideas and capacity for change is limited to existing in a box, that you are more likely to be able to create a destiny you desire.

After three decades of painstaking research, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck believes that the answer lies more in how people think about intelligence and talent. She says there are two types of individuals: those who believe they were born with all the smarts and gifts they’re ever going to have who approach life with a “fixed mind-set,” and those who believe that their own abilities can expand over time who live with a “growth mind-set.”

Can you guess which ones prove to be most innovative over time?

“Society is obsessed with the idea of talent and genius and people who are ‘naturals’ with innate ability,” says Ms. Dweck, who is known for research that crosses the boundaries of personal, social and developmental psychology.

“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

The problem is for those having been identified as geniuses, because “the anointed” become fearful of falling from grace. “It’s hard to move forward creatively and especially to foster teamwork if each person is trying to look like the biggest star in the constellation,” Ms. Dweck says.

In her 2006 book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” she shows how adopting either a fixed or growth attitude toward talent can profoundly affect all aspects of a person’s life, from parenting and romantic relationships to success at school and on the job.

This sounds like a pretty interesting book but is it possible to shift from a fixed mind-set to a growth mind-set?

Absolutely, according to Ms. Dweck. But, “it’s not easy to just let go of something that has felt like your self for many years,” she writes. Still, she says, “nothing is better than seeing people find their way to things they value.”

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