Maybe your entire life you’ve been told that you’re a genius who will succeed at anything. Perhaps school came easily to you and you acknowledged your stroke of genius for many successes. If you think this is a positive mindset which will help you pass the EPPP, you’re wrong.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve been told your entire life that you’re almost good enough but not quite. Perhaps school was full of failing grades but you excused yourself from trying harder because you just weren’t good enough anyway. If you think is a negative mindset which will hinder your EPPP score, you’re onto something.
The point is that, in these scenarios, the mind is working against both the genius and the failure.
So, what is the right mindset to pass the EPPP?
In her research on mindset and success, Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist, finds that a growth mindset can determine success and a fixed mindset can determine failure.
A growth mindset believes in learning and effort. It says “I can learn to do anything.” A fixed mindset believes in limited capabilities. It says “I’m either good at it or I’m not” or “My potential is predetermined.” Both the genius and the skeptic alike believe in their predetermined potential and therefore have a fixed mindset.
Robert Puff, Ph.D., explores these fixed mindset examples further in his Psychology Today article, “Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset.”
Puff gives two examples of what a fixed mindset looks like. The first is “Jim.” Throughout his life, Jim has been told that he isn’t smart. When Jim excels at math, he is surprised. Rather than learning more about math and excelling further, Jim reminds himself that he isn’t smart. He doesn’t study for any of his math tests or do any of his homework and, therefore, fails math which ultimately reaffirms his believe that he isn’t smart. His mindset about his initial success affected his future success.
The second example is “Lotus.” Lotus is told her entire life that she is a genius. She excels at school, reaffirming her believe that she is a genius, and she eventually gets into Harvard. When she attends Harvard, however, the competition is high and she does not excel as easily as she did in high school. She receives grades worse than she thought capable for herself. Lotus now believes she wasn’t a genius after all and continues to struggle at Harvard. Her mindset about her initial success affected her future success.
Neither of these fixed mindset examples blamed their learning and progress for their success or failure. They both blamed their identity and fell into the cycle of the fixed mindset. If both Jim and Lotus had seen opportunities for progress in their failures and successes, they may have continued succeeding.
As you prepare to pass the EPPP, don’t be a prophet of your own failure by placing your identity in innate capability or incapability.
Dweck outlines what a growth mindset is in Harvard Business Review’s article “What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means.” She outlines three myths about growth mindset that actually cause people to have a fixed mindset.
The first myth is that you already have, and will always have, a growth mindset. She says
People often confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook — qualities they believe they’ve simply always had.
Dweck calls this a “false growth mindset” and claims everyone is a mixture of both fixed and growth mindsets; a mixture which “continually evolves with experience.” In order to achieve what we seek, we must acknowledge that a purely growth mindset does not exist.
The second myth is that “a growth mindset is just about praising and rewarding effort.” Dweck believes that, because outcomes matter, it is crucial to reward learning and progress not just effort because not all effort is productive. She says
Unproductive effort is never a good thing. It’s critical to reward not just effort but learning and progress, and to emphasize the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward effectively.
The third and final myth is that good things will happen if you simply attach yourself to a growth mindset. Although mission statements are valuable, what happens when employees do not meet set goals? Perhaps you have a goal of passing your next two EPPP practice exams. What if you don’t? Instead of rewarding the passing score or dwelling on the failed one, someone with a growth mindset looks back on the process to place blame and move forward. Dweck says:
Organizations that embody a growth mindset encourage appropriate risk-taking, knowing that some risks won’t work out. They reward employees for important and useful lessons learned, even if a project does not meet its original goals. They support collaboration across organizational boundaries rather than competition among employees or units.
Even if you don’t pass your next practice exam, reward yourself for the lessons learned and the opportunities for growth. If you do pass, reward the progress. Having this mindset of growth will ultimately help you reach your goal of passing the EPPP.