Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be amazing at whatever it is they choose to do, and others do not seem to be able to succeed at even a small scale? A key element that consistently comes through within research is a person’s mindset being a deciding factor. Most of those who have achieved greatness worked incredibly hard to get there. They often started from zero and knew nothing. Many were told that they would never amount to anything, because they did not have the right family connections, education background etc. But they believed that they could figure it out and worked hard to do so. Your mindset is everything. Your mindset more than anything else in this world will determine if you will make it or not. If you have a growth mindset the world is literally a world of opportunity and if you have a fixed mindset the world is a place where you have no opportunity.
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
The easiest way to think about those with a growth mindset is that they have the understanding that abilities and understanding can be developed. Simply put, they believe that they can get smarter, become more intelligent, and more talented through putting in time and effort. On the flipside, those with a fixed mindset believe that abilities and understanding are fixed and cannot be changed They often do not believe that intelligence can be enhanced and that you either “have it or you don’t” when it comes to ability and talent. This difference in mindset usually leads to different types of behaviour. If someone has a fixed mindset and believes that to succeed you need to be naturally talented, they are not likely to put in much effort to change or pursue their goals. On the other hand, those who believe they can change these traits are much more willing to put in extra time and effort to pursue their goals. This naturally leads to those with a growth mindset to be more successful than those with a fixed mindset.
Growth Mindset in action
These growth mindset traits are often very easily seen within our day to day interactions. Imagine for example you have your year end review with your boss, and you receive some negative feedback. It could be anything, maybe your boss isn’t happy that you are always turning up late, maybe you have made too many mistakes, or that you lack certain skills in order to perform your job to the highest standard. A person’s initial reaction to this usually reveals their mindset. For example, someone with a fixed mindset will usually have one of a handful of initial reactions. They will get defensive instantly without asking for examples or feel like their boss is being unfair and picking on them and just claim their boss doesn’t know what they are talking about. Or they will agree with the assessment and just say they do not have the ability to be able to ever achieve what is required. Someone with a growth mindset on the other hand would ask for examples of what has gone wrong and why, assess it objectively without emotion, and if the feedback is grounded in some fact work to address that. There is no fear or defensiveness in their actions, as they know if they are not doing something great, then they can just learn how to do it better. Although obviously this only applies if someone’s boss is actually able to make a proper objective assessment, but that’s a whole different topic! This same thought process would apply if your boss gave you a new project or task. A fixed mindset person will be reluctant to take on something new as they do not know how to do it, whereas a growth mindset person will take the view that they can figure it out.
Develop your mindset
The truth is that while a growth mindset is an incredible asset to have, it is not something you can develop overnight. As with anything worth happening, change, especially personal change is a journey and takes time. In order to develop the mindset, you there are some foundational behaviours you can adopt. The first is to continue to develop your self-awareness and to think about the things you are good and bad at and understand why they are strengths or weaknesses. When you become self-aware, you understand the reasons for them being strengths and weaknesses. This will then help you to realise that even though you may not have realised it before, the reason you are good at certain things and bad at others is due to the time you have spent focused on them. Likewise, there may be certain things you just don’t like doing, that is ok, stop doing them!
The next is to see failure as part of the journey. Michael Jordan may be the greatest basketball player of all time, but he missed over 9000 shots and lost 300 games and was even cut from his high school basketball team for not being good enough. It took Edison over 10,000 attempts to create a working lightbulb. It takes time to become good at anything. There is a rule often spoken about within personal development circles that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. If you have had three piano lessons or language lessons each lasting an hour, you are not a failure, you have barely started on your journey.
Finally, it’s incredibly important to be develop your curiosity and ask why. Rather than accepting something is just as it is, find out the root cause as to why something is like it is. We have a device in our pocket that can provide us with the answers to absolutely anything, use it! For example, did you know Thursday is named after the Norse God Thor? Don’t believe me? Use that device in your pocket.