If you’ve just gotten your head around the whole idea of having a ‘growth mindset’; that is the idea that your particular talents are not necessarily fixed from birth but depend on your attitude to learning and growth, I’m sorry but there’s another mindset to learn, and this one benefits us all, especially now.
Where cultivating a ‘growth’ rather than a ‘fixed’ mindset is all about knowing that success in learning and life tends to be about knowing that you are more than a collection of innate strengths and weaknesses. Benefit Mindset embraces the idea that the empowering and interdependent nature of growth allows each one of us to contribute not only to our own fulfilment as people, but to the larger environment that promotes and supports it. It’s the transformational and exponential nature of the theory of benefit mindset that I find the most interesting; and the most important in these times of extreme change and ‘disruption’.
Benefit mindset is a theory that takes the idea of learning in the individual through a constructive ‘growth mindset’ to a broader world-view. Just as growth is interdependent with the world it inhabits, so too it contributes to the world in a generative and self-fulfilling way. A benefit mindset holds the belief that growth and its benefit to the individual is, as we are all interdependent of each other, of benefit to all.
Rather than the zero-sum-equation idea that your gain is another individual’s loss and vice versa, benefit mentality embraces the idea that we are greater the sum of our individual parts and, in fact, our parts are not separate but contribute to an infinite whole. It’s a timeless and transformational idea, fit for a time that is more about change than consistency.
“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
Along with growth mindset (and perhaps its over-achieving child, benefit mindset) ‘disruption’ is a term that is being used more and more often to describe the unique period we are experiencing (or ‘enduring’ is perhaps a better word). The term is used to try to describe the indescribable ie. the fact that there is so much seismic change happening in our world in so many ways; globally, nationally and locally, that this change actually seeks to disrupt the status quo in ways that we can’t possibly predict or fully understand.
I’m sure you’re more than aware of these dramatic changes; the craziness of the Trump post-truth era, the pandemic, climate change and extreme weather, late-stage capitalism and the chasm of wealth between rich and poor, changing gender roles and norms….the list goes on. Many believe that how this ‘disruption’ differs from the normal ‘change-is-the-only-constant’ norms that we have had to adapt to, particularly over the last century, is that the change that we are experiencing now is profound and transformational. How this change is impacting, inducing and compounding change in other seemingly separate yet interdependent global systems is the great unknown.
What we do know is the global scale and diverse nature of our current period of disruption means we need to meet it with a different mindset, one that is about a holistic and transformational change in mindset.
This period of disruption will not bring us a ‘new normal’ or allow us to resume a mindset of individual benefit as separate from, or even in opposition to mutual gain.
Disruption isn’t just about direness and destruction, but an opportunity to grow and transform, for the benefit of all.
Peter Wingate emigrated to Yarraville before it was even trendy and has a stubborn mission to engage, encourage and enhance its unique community. He is (very slowly) completing a Masters of Education in Equity, Diversity and Social Change at UniMelb and is a founder member and executive with the Australian Progressives.