Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has spent decades studying how people approach learning and, more specifically, how they deal with failure. Her research, outlined in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, concludes that early in life individuals develop a fixed or growth mindset – and this one factor influences their approach to life and learning, as well as their capacity to succeed.
People with a fixed mindset believe that they were born with a set amount of intelligence and talent, and certain character traits, that cannot be expanded or enhanced. They feel an urgency to benchmark their capabilities and prove they are as (or more) gifted than others. This often becomes a “consuming goal to prove themselves – in the classroom, in their careers and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality or character.” These are the people who obsessed over their undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, and measure their success by titles, salaries and prestige of their law school and law firm. Fixed mindset lawyers are resistant to change, and their fear of failure makes them less resilient.
Those with a growth mindset believe that their innate intelligence, character traits and capabilities are just starting points. They focus on cultivating their capabilities through effort and collaboration with others in their firm, practice group and even counterparts in other professions. Their growth mindset “creates a passion for learning…for stretching themselves and sticking to the project at hand, even (or especially) when things are not going well.” Lawyers with a growth mindset embrace change and tend to be quite resilient. [Read more…]