Why You Should Be a “Know-Nothing” at Work

Noelle Ihli

Why You Should Be a “Know-Nothing” at Work 

Dr. Carol Dweck, Author of the Bestselling Mindset, Reveals Why Being a “Know-Nothing” Is a Good Thing 

Being a “know-nothing” might sound like a character flaw—unless you’ve read Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. The author uses the term synonymously with “growth mindset,” which she defines as an openness to new knowledge, experiences, feedback, and challenges. 

The phrase “know-nothing” refers to the idea that no matter your current level of success or knowledge, there is always room to learn and grow. 

On the other end of the spectrum, a “know-it-all,” or “fixed mindset,” shuts out further growth and knowledge, insisting, “I’ve already arrived! This is as far as I’ll go.” 

According to Dweck, we should all strive to be “know-nothings.” Ready to learn how? Read on.

Five Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset

These strategies can help you chip away at a fixed mindset and embrace growth. 

  1. See Failure as an Opportunity

A fixed mindset experiences failure as a rejection or proof of finite abilities. In contrast, a growth mindset embraces failure as a way to gain knowledge and develop grit while reframing setbacks as steppings stones to future success. 

  1. View Intelligence and Talent as Flexible Qualities

If you have a fixed mindset, qualities like intelligence and talent can seem finite. A growth mindset acknowledges that you can learn to do anything through passion and perseverance.  

Any time you think, “I’m just not good at this,” remind yourself that you can cultivate new skills and knowledge if you work hard and dedicate yourself to the task. 

  1. Try New Things

A fixed mindset sticks to the tried and true, rarely venturing beyond the familiar. While this can feel safe, it closes the door to many opportunities. On the other hand, a growth mindset embraces new experiences, knowing that they can lead to insights and personal development. 

The next time you feel anxious about stepping outside your comfort zone, remember that growth often feels uncomfortable at first, but new opportunities wait on the other side! 

  1. Integrate Feedback

In a fixed mindset, constructive feedback can feel threatening, discouraging, or even like a personal attack. A growth mindset, on the other hand, recognizes that constructive feedback isn’t personal but rather an invitation to improve your skills or performance.

To shift your mindset when it comes to critical feedback, ask yourself, “If I didn’t take this personally, how could I see it as valuable information and use it to improve? ” 

  1. Get Inspired by Others’ Success

A fixed mindset feels threatened when someone else succeeds. A growth mindset recognizes that a rising tide lifts all ships, and having successful peers and connections can be instructive and inspiring. 

If you feel discouraged by someone else’s achievements, try asking yourself how to emulate or learn from their success.

Which of Dweck’s five strategies to cultivate a growth mindset could you start using today? Share your favorite quote from this article with us on Twitter using #mindset. 

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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