Many individuals dream of accomplishing something important in their lives but fail to act constructively on their desires and ambitions. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has done important research to learn more about how the power of personal beliefs influence our abilities and affect our potential for personal growth.
While individuals may be aware of some beliefs about themselves, other concepts of our capabilities may be influenced by unconscious choices that are affected by our awareness, personality, the company we keep, and the narratives that we have heard. For example, according to research by two Cornell University professors, Wansink and Sobal, a study of people’s eating habits revealed that individuals thought they only made 15 food choices each day when in reality they actually made over 200 food choice decisions.
Dweck acknowledges that our lack of awareness of our own beliefs influence our decision making. She was interested in studying how people’s attitudes about their potential affected them. From her studies, she concluded that some people have what she termed as a “fixed mindset.” People who consider their character, intelligence level, and creativity as fixed attributes or a permanent condition that is basically unchangeable in life indicate this group’s fixed attitude.
Dweck also learned that other individuals believed they possessed the ability to improve themselves. The people who considered their capacity to improve were identified as having a “growth mindset.” This attitude supports the belief that those basic abilities can be significantly changed through dedication and hard work.
Basic intelligence and talent are starting points for learning. Dedication to accomplishment allows people to experience the improvement that they desire. Two identified factors that are keys to creating change are resilience and motivation. Struggling through difficulties of development in an area of improvement allows Individuals to eventually experience small wins that lead to success. Such accomplishments tend to reinforce the power of their belief, the benefits of an expanded self-concept, as well as the enjoyment of creating new relationships.
Clearly, people can manage their ability to focus attention, to become more self-aware, to improve their memory, and to use critical thinking to enhance their decision-making and judgment. Efforts to realize personal improvements require both motivation and persistence. Tapping into internal motivators that contribute to the improvement of individuals’ cognitive abilities may provide help needed to sustain that effort.
Consider how a sense of duty to others can inspire one to continue in the face of difficulty. Using a goal setting strategy that requires accountability can also spur us into action. Do not forget that the mirror offers a daily reminder of our self-respect that can provide a reminder of resolve with positive self-talk. Recall promises we make to ourselves that are as important as those we make to others.
Learning becomes a life-long aspect of personal development. We all need to acknowledge that we are learning in order to improve our intellectual abilities and improve our lives.
Dweck argues in her book Mindset that people who believe their innate abilities are unchanging makes them compelled to prove themselves adequate to meet the challenges of life. Reaching potential in the face of challenges can involve a number of personal changes.
Reaching our potential may be more of a matter of developing self-awareness and building on strengths. Growth can more easily occur when following interests and choosing to develop skills and expertise.
Embracing the belief that greater accomplishments are possible is the first step. Explore how you can unlock your potential for achievement with a growth mindset.