An Article That Told Me All About My Life

Fixed vs. Growth? It’s all in the mind…

The excitement of being accepted to The Iron Yard has not won off yet surprisingly. I guess when I saw the amount of pre-work I have to complete before class starts in May, there was no time for commitment remorse.

Part of my pre-work was to read an article titled “Fixed vs Growth” and answer 2 questions on my thoughts about the article. My initial reaction was “what does an article have to do with it”; but after I put my ego aside and delved into the article, I was totally blown away.

The article was based on a book titled “Mindset” written by World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, after decades of research on achievement and success. The article went on to describe 2 major mindsets that shape our lives as humans — Fixed vs. Growth.

Fixed Mindset says that’s the way I am, I can’t change, I wasn’t born smart, I don’t have what it takes so I can never be better off in life, failure is not an option so I can’t fail, my goal is ultimate mastery of my skills and then I’m done and just relish in my successes and remember the good old days.

I feel very shamed when I fail and I can’t move on with my life. I feel stuck when I experience crisis, disappointment, or heart break. I feel my world is over so I just enjoy my pity party all day long. The list goes on and on. You get the gist now right?

Growth Mindset on the other hand is the exact opposite of fixed mindset. It believes I wasn’t born smart but I can apply myself and learn how to learn, learn how to be intelligent, learn how to be more productive, learn how to manage money better, learn how to cook, learn how to be a better public speaker, learn how to be a better writer, learn how to go from being a college dropout to being a serial entrepreneur.

Anything I want to be or achieve can be learned. I relish in my failures because it’s free education/life lessons I don’t have to pay for; I am not afraid of failure and I gain no shame from failure because I can learn from everything. I don’t relish in my successes either because it’s also a learning experience. I am a voracious learner and reader.

At this point in the article, I was totally dazed at what I was reading, not knowing what was coming next. The article began to describe the character traits of individuals with these mindsets and it looked something like this:

Fixed Mindset

  • Very Judgmental
  • Never Feeling Adequate
  • Lie to others when they are ashamed of their failure or performance
  • Live life with imposed limitations
  • Believe nothing can be improved so they remain stagnate
  • Make a lot of excuses and love to play the blame game

Growth Mindset

  • Very Open Minded
  • Build good self worth and confidence
  • Acknowledge their inadequacies and improve on them
  • Love Adventure; live a life with no limits; anything is possible
  • Believe anything can be learned and improved
  • Make no excuses and take responsibility for their lives.

I fell out of my sit at this point because, I had never read an article that told me all about my life. The article went on to describe how people with these mindsets behave in relationships — marriage, parenting, business. I could literally here all the fights my husband and I have had in the past rushing through my head. Men he was right!

Yes you guessed right. I had a Fixed Mindset. I always strived to be the best and prove myself growing up with 5 siblings. I always thought it was a middle-child syndrome thing but this article gave me a better perspective. It was all from a fixed mindset.

This leads me to the question — “Are humans born with a dose of fixed vs. growth mindset?” Well, I haven’’t gotten to that chapter in the book yet. Infact, I just ordered my copy of “Mindset” few minutes ago and there is a whole chapter dedicated to this question.

I feel I probably inherited mine or it was reinforced by my parents or the environment I was raised — Nigeria. My parents often read out the list of failures in their circle to me and my siblings as a constant reminder that failure wasn’t an option. Maybe because free education was not provided by the government at any level.

This fixed mindset shaped my life as I grew older. I was constantly working hard to be better than others. I was always a nervous wreck whenever I faced setbacks or failure. I would literally shut down for weeks. Sometimes I never really got over the shame of failure because I felt I could never improve or change.

I was always judging myself and others. I took pride in doing things that showcased my ability so I won’t expose my flaws. On how I hated criticism and any feedback that didn’t praise my ability. I often tuned out, blamed myself and told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Alas! The journey to reprogramming my mind started when I moved to the United States in 2005 to get married to my spouse. The change in environment made me see new and different perspectives and possibilities.

Ten years later, I finally admitted to myself that I had a fixed mindset and there was a better one. I made a commitment to change my mindset from fixed to growth. Its been an interesting journey so far as I voraciously learn and grow. Part of that journey has lead me to The Iron Yard to learn and develop my programming skills. “Intelligence is truly something you have to work for”.