Competence Mindsets - Deepstash

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Competence Mindsets

A mindset is a set of beliefs or assumptions—entrepreneurial, capitalist, global, environmental—that guide your perceptions, thoughts, and actions. Fortunately, a belief in one's competence and agency (the highest form of competence) can be learned and developed.

Two widely studied mindsets hold particular relevance to competence and agency. To have a fixed mindset is to believe that intelligence and other personal attributes and abilities are set in stone. In contrast, a growth mindset motivates and allows you to strengthen your competence through learning.


268 reads


The Passive Mindset

“I don’t think much about my competence in this domain and probably won’t try to improve.”

This can result from a fixed mindset and believing we have little chance of improving or not deeming improvement in that area to be necessary. We might have checked out of a previous...


160 reads

The Capable Mindset

“I can perform adequately and improve if I put my mind to it.”

This mindset may or may not be grounded in reality. This indicates reasonable confidence but sometimes overconfidence. A capable mindset probably feels good but may not translate into high motivation and effect...


157 reads

The Most-Productive Mindset

An agentic mindset—believing that we have a realistic chance to succeed and can competently apply the four pillars of agency—is the most productive of various competence-related mindsets. These mindsets influence, for better or worse, job performance, careers, and even efforts to...


249 reads

The Empowered Mindset

“I have the skills and freedom to perform well and get even better.”

Being truly empowered is more than a feeling; it requires adequate autonomy, support, resources, and opportunities. Having these empowerment tools at our disposal is not the same as applying them effectiv...


169 reads

The 5 Levels Of Competence-Related Mindsets

  1. The Declining (or Decremental) Mindset: “My ability to perform is or soon will be slipping away.”
  2. The Passive Mindset: “I don’t think much about my competence in this domain and probably won’t try to improve.”
  3. The Capable Mindset


206 reads

Fully Fledged Agency - The 4 Pillars

Fully fledged agency requires believing we can achieve our goal and engaging in the following activities:

  1. Forethought: deciding to take on a challenge, thinking ahead, setting goals, and making plans.
  2. Implementation: taking fi...


337 reads

Being Agentic

In the psychological sense, agency entails a category of beliefs, a mindset. More profoundly, genuine agency includes the strategies and actions that accomplish what we want and bring us what we need.

Feeling that we have agency is nice. But feeling agentic...


497 reads

The Agentic Mindset

”I have the skills and resources I need (or can obtain them), I feel motivated to apply them, and I am acting in ways that will accomplish what is needed.”

Full agency requires enacting all four agency pillars to accomplish your goals.


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Moving Up And Down The Hierarchy Is, In Fact, Natural

Someone might feel strong agency in their job but be less sure about their long-term career and helpless about climate change.

We should always remember that beliefs and feelings can change, shifting and fluctuating over time and from challenge to challenge. Changin...


201 reads

The Declining (or Decremental) Mindset

“My ability to perform is or soon will be slipping away.”

Examples of declining (technically, decremenral) mindsets include believing that specific physical or mental abilities are declining and not expecting a turnaround, the same outlook regarding technical skills or ene...


172 reads

A Hierarchy of Competence Mindsets

A Hierarchy of Competence Mindsets

Fixed and growth mindsets can influence whether a person will move upward in the hierarchy of competence mindsets shown in the accompanying figure.

The figure above distinguishes 5 mindsets representing different levels of competence, arranged from weakest competence at the...


243 reads

Sometimes Changes Don’t Bring About Changes

A declining mindset may or may not be accurate. Sometimes turning around a decline isn’t possible. Or facts and circumstances can improve with concerted effort and practice. Changing your mindset doesn't magically bring about desired changes.

Still, a shift in minds...


181 reads




“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison

Human agency is a mindset plus a set of learnable actions that help us attain what we want in life. Whatever our “level”, we can hold steady, decline, or grow.

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Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset:

  • tend to understand basic abilities as malleable, and believe they can be developed over time.
  • love new challenges and view setbacks as opportunities to learn.
  • display better self-esteem, more resilie...

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