I’ve been revisiting some articles written about growth versus fixed mind sets and considering the relevance to NLP. AS an NLP Trainer understanding these concepts can be really helpful in recognising where student’s and/or clients are in their individual processes.
What are the definitions of each type of mind set?
First, the fixed mind set is characterised by beliefs that skills, qualities and abilities are set in stone and not changeable. Take the example of a person who believes they are unable to do simple a maths problem.
On the face of it the client is presenting with a simple “limiting belief” however if they also have a generalised fixed mind set underpinning this the change work may be more multi layered.
A growth mind set as the name implies allows for growth and development. In other words, a person with a growth mind set accepts that skills, qualities and abilities can be improved with practice, training and experience.
Much of the early study was conducted by Carol Dweck and how a fixed mind set can be seen as a mental block that can be reinforced or removed. Of particular interest was her work around praise and the impact it had on children in school.
She reported that children praised as being bright or talented were far more likely to give up if faced with a challenge. This kind of praise appeared to foster a fixed mind set. Children praised for effort, hard work and perseverance were more likely to keep going if presented with a challenge (indicating a growth mind set).
Children with a growth mindset show increased motivation in class and were more likely to get better test scores than the fixed mind set group. The fixed mind set group did less preparation before tests than the growth mind set group. While the difference in test scores may seem obvious when observed this was not the case for the children involved.
The connection between effort and results remained hidden for the fixed mind set group. Dweck suggested that even if children have been praised for being intelligent they tend to give up if they are unable to solve a problem immediately.
Returning to my original point, as an NLP Trainer being mindful of the likelihood of some students starting from a place of fixed mind set consider how you might begin loosening up this potential mental block to learning.
Create stories, metaphors and examples that gently challenge fixed mind sets before introducing interventions. When encouraging students include praise and feedback that promotes the growth mindset such as sharing how you worked to develop your skills by practicing and revising.
Perhaps even more important, teach your students about this concept directly so they can begin to consciously and unconsciously make internal shifts that will help them both personally and as an NLP Practitioner.