Do You Fear Learning?

What happens when you meet someone, or work with someone who just never sees eye-to-eye with you? You probably learn to avoid conversations with them, right? Have you ever seen that colleague alone in the break-room and said to yourself “I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life” and decide not to go in? Or maybe you’re not the type to avoid…Maybe you keep having conversations with them, but you find yourself getting frustrated and later ask yourself why you still bother making the effort. But why do we really react this way to people around us?


We look to be around those who are on our wavelength because it’s familiar, it’s comfortable, and it makes us feel good! And that’s great— until we do this with all parts of our lives…  Let’s face it. We distance ourselves from those who challenge us, who contradict us, who simply have opposing views or different ways of doing things because of the discomfort we experience when they are around, right? It’s uncomfortable to be put in a vulnerable position where you may be forced to show that in fact, you don’t have a solution to the problem at work, you don’t have all the answers, you don’t know what should be done next— and that’s the problem. Egos get in the way of growth and self-improvement.

So, how do we come to grow from those who don’t seem to get along with us? It’s difficult to accept that we can grow from being exposed to people and situations that make us extremely uncomfortable. In fact, it takes lots of practice and commitment. It isn’t easy, but it’s worthwhile and it all comes down to understanding where you fall within the dichotomy of mindset.

The Fixed and Growth Mindsets

Image result for mindset book

The concept of mindset is beautifully elaborated in a book written by Dr. Carol Dweck called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I highly recommend reading this book regardless of your answers to all of these questions. And if you’re registered with an academic institution like McGill, you can log in to your library services and read the ebook for free.

So, how do you know if you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?


Here’s a quick run-down of the characteristics typically of each mindset.

  • Dweck describes a fixed mindset as the belief that your level of intelligence cannot change.

-Holding on to such a belief means that you are likely to want to appear “smart” as much as possible as you want to validate what you believe you have.

-This means you are likely to get defensive in situations that challenge you, or you avoid those situations completely.

-Constructive or negative feedback may threaten you and you feel bitter about others’ success.

-At the same time, you believe that putting more effort into something is useless because you have tried your best, and your best did not get you the results you expected.


  • In Dweck’s terms, a growth mindset is the belief that intelligence can be developed.

-Holding this belief likely leads you to welcome difficult situations and to persist if they become more challenging than expected, or to persist when confronted with a setback rather than give up.

-You are likely to view criticism and feedback as valuable and essential to your growth and improvement, and that your continued effort will eventually result in mastery of your goal.

-Most importantly and probably most beautifully is that you will see others’ successes as opportunities to take away lessons or as inspiration for your own goals.

-A growth mindset is essentially a belief in learning and the possibility of change.

Can I be more growth minded?

Everyone has the ability to become more growth minded! The first step is to be grateful when something difficult comes your way, or when someone presents you with information you are not comfortable hearing because it’s a test, and you have a choice to make. You can run away, or you take that opportunity as a means of developing yourself for the better. It can be as simple as just listening to the person speak without interrupting.

Anyone and anything can present you with an opportunity to learn, to improve, and to grow as a person. When you allow yourself to hear others, to listen to others, and to reflect on what you received, you are gifting yourself with limitless opportunities to reach higher levels of achievement.

The next time you notice someone shutting you out for your ideas, think about the mindsets. Don’t get frustrated. Understand that change is difficult, and that many just want to remain in their comfort zone.

What do you think about mindset?


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