Cultivating a Growth Mindset
We learned that EQ is a better predictor of success than IQ. That is, you need to get along in order to get ahead. But can you actually become more emotionally intelligent? The answer is yes — if you believe your personality can change over time.
Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck studies people’s self-theories — she calls them ‘mindsets’ — and the crucial role they play in how people function in the world.
The two types of mindsets
Some people believe they can improve their abilities through effort and education. They love learning new things, embrace challenges, learn from feedback, and are inspired by other people’s successes. They have what Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset’.
Others believe that their qualities are carved in stone. They believe strongly in talent and see effort as fruitless. They tend to avoid challenges and ignore feedback that could help them improve. These people have what she calls a ‘fixed mindset’.
A growth mindset empowers you to learn and to grow. A fixed mindset keeps you in your comfort zone and prevents you from living up to your full potential.
Growth mindset and EQ
“People say to me all the time, ‘I’m not a people person,’ or ‘I’m not good at managing my emotions,’ unaware that they’re expressing a fixed mindset,” writes Peter Salovey, social psychologist at Yale and a pioneer in EQ research.
Salovey seems to suggest that a fixed mindset is limiting, and also incompatible with how your brain really works. For example, it goes against all evidence of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change even after you become an adult. And it ignores a growing body of research that shows that, when people adopt a growth mindset, they become more motivated to learn and perform better on challenging tasks.
So, step 1 to increasing your EQ is believing it’s possible. Here are the others:
2. Identify opportunities for growth
To develop your EQ, you need to have a clear picture of where you are right now. One way to do that is to record in a diary social situations in which you were either successful or unsuccessful at understanding yourself and others. What were your thoughts? What were your emotions? What were your behaviors?
3. Be flexible
Don’t be afraid to try new things just because you might fail. Allowing yourself to make mistakes means that you’re taking on appropriate challenges, and you’re in constant learning mode. Experiment with different strategies and pay close attention to which ones work.
4. Expect results
People with a growth mindset know they are going to fail from time to time, but they know that eventually all their effort will pay off. Expecting results is what keeps you motivated. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?
Tomorrow, you’ll learn about the importance of getting feedback to figure out where you stand and where you need to improve.
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