Admitting I am ignorant

About fifteen years ago I read the book entitled Mindset by Carol Dweck, which was very disturbing to me. She gives research that supports the idea that children often develop a fixed mindset or a growth mindset depending on how they were raised. The growth mindset was demonstrated through a continued willingness to learn and reconsider what they believed.  So they took risks and were willing to be wrong as long as they learned.  On the other hand, the fixed mindset was demonstrated by wanting others to believe they were capable. These children were careful to not put themselves in situations where they would appear incompetent or risk failure.  They were more concerned with looking competent than learning new things.

What was impressive about her research on these two groups of children was that she followed them for ten to twenty years.  She discovered that as those children grew into adulthood they continued to demonstrate these attributes, albeit in more disguised manners. As these children reached adulthood, they ended up with very different perspectives or mindsets.  The fixed mindset individuals experienced less satisfaction relationally, academically, and professionally, while the growth mindset individuals achieved higher fulfillment in these same areas.  Simply because one group was willing to try new things, fail, and learn, they were more successful than the group which was more concerned about appearing competent. 

What bothered me about her research was that I realized in some areas of my life I clearly had a fixed mindset. But, in other areas I had a growth mindset. This is true for most of us; it isn’t that we have only one mindset in all our lives, but we may approach different areas of our lives from either of these two mindsets. Her book opened my eyes and helped me learn to admit that I am ignorant rather than “faking it till you make it!”.  In too many areas I covered up or denied my mistakes rather than acknowledging them and asking others to help me learn.  I was so struck by this that I developed a scale on one of the TrueWiring instruments, the Growth Propensity Scale (GPS), which seeks to measure this concept.  It has helped others greatly.

A recent book by Dan Sullivan, The Laws of Lifetime Growth, 2nd edition*, was helpful to me as he identifies ten principles that can promote a growth mindset.  He calls them ten laws, but I struggle with that label (which is the subject of my next blog).  They are:

  1. Always Make Your Future Bigger Than Your Past
  2. Always Make Your Learning Greater Than Your Experience
  3. Always Make Your Contribution Bigger Than Your Reward
  4. Always Make Your Performance Greater Than Your Applause
  5. Always Make Your Gratitude Greater Than Your Success
  6. Always Make Your Enjoyment Greater Than Your Effort
  7. Always Make Your Cooperation Greater Than Your Status
  8. Always Make Your Confidence Greater Than Your Comfort
  9. Always Make Your Purpose Greater Than Your Money
  10. Always Make Your Questions Bigger Than Your Answers

The book is easy to read and oversimplified; but, I do believe these ten principles, when properly understood and applied to our lives, develop our growth mindset and can starve our fixed mindset.  At least many of these principles were principles I have had to learn to apply personally.

I am much freer these days to admit I am ignorant than I was earlier in my life.  This is ironic as I know a whole lot more now than I did then.  Thanks, Carol Dweck.

*Sullivan, Dan; Nomura, Catherine. The Laws of Lifetime Growth. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.






2 responses to “Admitting I am ignorant”

  1. Scott Evans Avatar
    Scott Evans

    Awesome ! Greg I’m learning more about myself than I want to know ! Thank you brother !

  2. Gregory Wiens Avatar
    Gregory Wiens

    That is kind of what growth often feels like 🙂

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