I want you to recall the day you were accepted into the university. Imagine the adrenalin that was rushing through your spine. You seating in front of your computer, opening the email from the admission board and then seeing the phrase, “You have been accepted…”. I can bet that was one of the happiest days of your life. Thereafter, you start taking college courses and you discover it’s not as easy as you’ve anticipated. Though some are able to handle the stress effectively, many find themselves drowning in the sea of endless term papers, research papers and other academic works. And before you know, they begin to doubt their abilities and their results begin to suffer. Upon closer inspection, this downward spiral is as a result of nurturing the wrong mindset. Our goal in this post is to explore the role mindset plays in academics and how to develop the right mindset.
What is Mindset
A mindset can be defined as the way in which a person perceives the world around them. It’s the sets of attitudes that define how you respond to external factors. In her famous book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck explores two types of mindset and how they influence our response to drawbacks. Let’s quickly examine them.
A fixed-mindset is based on the belief that your qualities are fixed and there’s little to nothing you can do about it. Have you ever been in a situation where your lecturer turns in your term paper and you felt like a complete failure because you got a D? You have a voice in your head telling you that you don’t have what it takes to excel in that course. That’s how the fixed-mindset operate! The problem with this approach is that you’re on a never-ending journey to continually prove yourself. Anytime you do great, your ecstatic, however, when you perform poorly, you feel miserable and dejected.
On the other hand, a growth mindset is based on the belief that your qualities can be improved by putting in adequate effort. In this mindset, your current circumstances do not define you as an individual. It does not tell you what you can or can’t do. Here, you don’t have to prove anything to anybody because you know that you can substantially improve on your performance. Let’s go back to our previous example of getting a D in a term paper. A growth-oriented person sees this as an indication that there’s still a lot to learn about the course. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you won’t feel the pain of failure. Rather they will never allow it to define who they are. They see it as a challenge to learn more and do better in the exam.
A Real-Life Story
When I was in college, there was this guy named Daniel. He was super-smart, with an IQ of 145+. When we started off everything was great for him but tragedy struck when he failed a course in our second year. Eventually, he became depressed and it had a devastating effect on his studies. In retrospect, I realize that he had a fixed-mindset and so, every good grade he got was a testament to how smart he was. And when things didn’t go out as planned, his little failure affected his personality and he tagged himself as a failure. That’s what a fixed-mindset does; it limits your potential!
Developing a Growth Mindset
As a turns out, most people develop a fixed-mindset during their childhood, therefore, it pretty hard to break but it’s not impossible. First, you have to recognize if you have one. This way, you’ll know when it’s having a say on your self-worth and you can call yourself to caution. It is important to reinforce into your years that a growth-mindset does not support laziness. It suggests that you give your best in whatever you do and see any drawback as an opportunity to learn. So, when next you’re writing a dissertation or a report or a term paper, give it your absolute best. And if you do not reach your expectations, rather than consider yourself a failure, see it as an opportunity to learn. This way, you’ll have a richer academic experience in college. What’s more, these lessons transcend academic success. It will also help you to live a life of joy and fulfilment.
- Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.