When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Isn’t this a provocative question? And I am sure you don’t know how best to answer this. After all, would taking a different route to work be defined as doing something for the first time? Or would taking on a new role at work be more like it? Why am I even thinking about this? Well, as it turns out, the length of time between new events, and the frequency of having done something for the first time tells us a lot about your mindset.

The Fixed Mindset

According to Prof Carol Dweck of Stanford University, there are two predominant mindsets: the fixed mindset, and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset is framed by the notion that life is a test, so we better not get caught with our pants down. Fixed mindset people will not raise their hands to answer a question in school if they didn’t know the answer. Growing up and taking this concept with them to the workplace, they will not make a decision until they have done proper research. They need to feel that they are in control and hence demand exorbitant ROIs for new projects, even when these are not available in the market. Because they are afraid of failure, they try not to make many decisions. And since decisions are rare, they will reserve them for the “really big ones”. They will manage these decisions with a fine-toothed comb, micro-managing it all the way to insignificance. Instead of becoming a success, the decision is managed to death! And since life is a test and we should avoid failure, this setback will cause the fixed mindset person to retreat further into his already constricted mindset, leading to a very risk-averse and highly tense person.

Embracing growth

Contrast this with those with the growth mindset. These are people who acknowledge that they don’t know everything and so life becomes a journey of learning. They make it a point to look out for areas where they don’t know, and then find out the answers to them. They will try to answer all the questions in school and see how far they get. Since failure is the best teacher, they take failure in their stride. Growing up and taking this concept to the workplace, they will acknowledge that they don’t know the answer to many things but they will formulate a theory and then test them. The hypothesis-driven process will lead them to unchartered territory where they will discover something new. This newness can then lead to bigger discoveries.

So, if you were someone who constantly does something for the first time, then you have a growth mindset.

Let’s look at some famous people who embraced the growth mindset…

  • Leonardo da Vinci

  • Albert Einstein

  • Thomas Edison

  • Nikola Tesla

  • Louis Pasteur

  • Marie Curie

  • Mark Zuckerberg

  • Warren Buffet

And those with the fixed mindset? I can’t name one, can you? I suppose that’s all that matters…

So, when was the last time you did something for the first time? Perhaps it’s time to get going right now!

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