Since publishing Mindset in 2006, Carol Dweck’s fixed and growth mindset theory has become legendary. Her best-selling book has over 1.8 million copies in print. Walk into school’s all over the world and you’ll likely find student made growth mindset posters on the wall. It’s become a core strategy at global companies such as Microsoft, Google and NASA.
Dweck’s message is simple, which perhaps accounts for its popularity. A fixed mindset is a psychological roadblock that limits our capacity for learning, whereas a growth mindset enables us to fulfil our potential in life. In Dweck’s words; “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
Today, however, a decade after Mindset was published, an increasing number of people are questioning what it means to grow and fulfil our potential. Rather than focusing on growth alone, this community of people are finding that there is real value, in being of value – to ourselves, to others, to nature and to the future. Together they are redefining what it means to be a success; aspiring to not only be the best in the world, but also to be the best for the world. Together they share a Benefit Mindset.

What is a benefit mindset?

In a Benefit Mindset, we not only seek to fulfil our potential, but choose to do it in a way that contributes to the wellbeing of others and society as a whole. We question ‘why’ we do what we do and believe in doing good things for good reasons.
A benefit mindset is symbolised by the everyday leader. We believe in creating a good society and healthy ecosystems through our everyday interactions. We are compassionate presences, trustworthy companions and aware contributors. We are the open-minded and open-hearted ones that show up, see what is needed and take wise action.
This complimentary evolution of the fixed and growth mindset is not to suggest aspirations for development are less important. Rather, a benefit mindset challenges us to consider how we can position our development within a life-affirming context. Whereas a growth mindset encourages development, a benefit mindset encourages development in service of life. We believe in using our strengths and our development to make valuable contributions to others and the world.

Me & We

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.” — Martin Luther King Jr
A source belief at the centre of a benefit mindset is that we are relational beings living in a profoundly interconnected world. We see the inseparable nature of everything and recognise no bodies life is just their life. Our lives are inextricably linked with others, nature and future generations, and interdependency is built into the fabric of who we are. We seek to live in ways that embraces all people, regardless of race, gender or class – and source great meaning from the knowledge we are one with all of life;

Creating ecosystems of wellbeing

“Not only is it the case that happy people are more willing to help others, but as I generally point out, helping others is the best way to help yourself, the best way to promote your own happiness. It is you, yourself, who will receive the benefit.” — Dalai Lama
When we do good by others, the people we help not only receive a benefit, but we also receive a benefit in terms of our own health and wellbeing. In this way, by acting virtuously, we can create what psychologist Barbara Fredrickson calls an upward spiral. The more well we are, the greater our capacity for doing good. And the more good we do, the greater our capacity for being well. Fredrickson states; “as we do good in the world, that affects our cellular makeup and the functioning of our hearts. There is deep interconnection between what we do, what we feel and how physically healthy we are.”

Everyday leadership

“School is about producing leaders. It doesn’t mean bosses; it means people who can genuinely make a profound transformative contribution to their society as a part of how they live their lives” — Peter Senge
Another strength of adopting a benefit mindset is how it invites us to see ourselves, not only as learners, but also as leaders in everyday life. We are not only ready to learn, but we are also ready to lead in our everyday relations with others. For example; the willingness to express universal values – the willingness to be kind – the willingness to listen deeply – are examples of everyday leadership. We all know how to express values, be kind and listen deeply to some degree. However, choosing to wholeheartedly express these dignifying qualities when opportunities arise, is an act of everyday leadership.

Shared purpose

“Everyone yearns for — and needs — a purpose that can be embodied, a meaning that can be lived.” — Bill Plotkin
Whereas a fixed mindset focuses us on what we do, and a growth mindset focuses us on process and how we do something, a benefit mindset invites us to step into a shared sense of why we do what we do. Why does this matter? Because shared purpose is a launching pad into a meaningful life. We make our lives most meaningful when we connect ourselves with important causes that are bigger than the self. Furthermore, when we have meaning in life, we don’t have to push ourselves to get things done. Rather, shared purpose energises us and engages our creativity and passions in the service of something that really matters.

A liberating framework

“If you want to change how a person thinks, give up. You cannot change how another thinks. Give them a tool the use of which will gradually cause them over time to think differently.” —  Buckminster Fuller
A central intent behind this evolution of the fixed and growth mindset was to create a simple tool that integrates the vital importance of learning and leadership. A map and compass for helping us make subtle yet profound shifts in the way we choose to live our lives. Something that once we let it in, it invites us to ask deeper questions about what it means to be a human being living in a profoundly interconnected world.
Organisations and schools all over the world are using this framework, and we’ve seen it lead to transformative conversations that help people shift how they see their place in the world.
Want to bring this way of being to your organisation, school or community? Check out our programs, resources or contact us today.