Chances are that you are more of a growth mindset type of person. I doubt you'd be reading these articles about mindset and mastery if you weren't. But whether we like it or not, having a fixed or growth mindset isn't an absolute. We will exhibit traits of each given different situations.
Today we're going to look at what having a fixed mindset does to our ability to learn. Generally speaking, if you look at one of the fixed mindset traits, it will be the belief that intelligence and talent are fixed. This means you're born with a certain level of capability and that's it. Some people will just be better, and some people will never get there.
There's something fascinating about this belief. It actually changes the way our brain learns.
One of my favourite quotes is:
"Whether You Think You Can, or Think You Can’t … You’re Right"
How your brain is affected by a fixed mindset
Interesting research has shown that those who associate themselves with a fixed mindset trait have a different response in their brain when they make errors on a task.
When someone makes a mistake, the brain has two processing signals as a result. The first is recognition of the error and the second seems to indicate that the person is consciously aware of the mistake with a goal of trying to make it right. Both these signals happen within about 250ms of the mistake happening.
What's interesting here is that those who believe that they can learn from mistakes—a growth mindset trait—had a stronger secondary signal. This allowed them to be consciously aware of the mistake and to figure out how to correct it by paying more attention.
What is unclear is whether reframing your understanding of mindset from a fixed to a growth will inherently boost the secondary signal. But it does clearly show that your mindset has a direct correlation to your ability to pay attention and improve your learning.
Without this signal, the mistakes are more likely to go unnoticed, or no corrective action is learned. Thus preventing you from improving.
Today's Ah-Ha moment
A fixed mindset isn't just a fancy term use to describe traits, but has a direct correlation to our brain's ability to pay attention and learn from mistakes. The question is whether you can train your brain to pay more attention when making mistakes, helping your learning. And of course, the growth mindset readers will naturally think this is possible.
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