I've been meaning to write about this for some time, and then I came across Terry Gault's excellent article applying Carol Dweck's research to public speaking and decided just to forward you there!
In a nutshell, Dweck says that most of us operate from one of two basic mindsets. The person with the fixed mindset says, "I am who I am. I can't change." This person believes that intelligence is fixed.
If the person is successful in school, work, life, she believes that she doesn't have to try harder, practice more, or learn anything new, because she's inherently bright and doesn't need to work at it. A successful person with a fixed mindset is afraid to take risks because it might damage the reputation of success she already has.
If the person with the fixed mindset is not successful or less intelligent, she believes that there's no point in trying harder because there's no likelihood of change or improvement.
However, the person with the growth mindset sees the possibilities of developing her talent, skill, intelligence.
The person with the growth mindset who struggles in school or work knows that if she keeps working at it, she'll accomplish her goals. The person with the growth mindset who is already successful keeps working hard to continue to improve and grow.
Read this article to understand Dweck's fascinating research, then read Gault's article to see how he applies it to public speaking.
Also, see my previous post on talent vs. skill.
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