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Ever have someone ask you, “What were you thinking?”

Typically, this in response to something we said or did that was a bit odd or goofy or even dangerous. Rarely does someone ask us that question when something goes well!

I recently taught a class at Colorado Free University entitled Finding the True You. It’s a three-hour class designed to help jumpstart the process of discovering your personal mission or purpose. It’s always a fun class to teach because the people who sign up are “in process” — they are looking for something different. Or just something. Anything.

One of the sections I cover has to do with limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves, other people, or the world. For many students, they begin to realize that the force that is holding them back is actually the way they think.

Instead of asking, “What were you thinking?” perhaps we should ask, “How were you thinking?” and “Why were you thinking that way?”

Carol Dweck teaches psychology at Stanford University and has written a well-researched book called Mindset. In it, she talks about two basic mindsets: fixed and growing.

A fixed mindset believes everything is set in stone — your intelligence, abilities, personality, and resources. If you believe you are operating with fixed resources, it will shape how you approach challenges or opportunities.

A growth mindset believes a person can learn, adapt, and adopt new information. In other words, they believe they can grow. Often they believe they will grow.

The difference between the two mindsets is huge.