Mindset for Success

Ever wondered if there was one defining characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful? In Carol Dweck's new book, Mindset, she makes the case that it's mindset that makes the difference and not just any mindset; there's one in particular.

Stone Mind vs. Grow Mind

Is there some aspect of your life where you feel that your abilities or talents were fixed at birth? Cast in stone, so to speak? For me, it's athletic ability. I've been playing golf for a long time, and I don't seem to be getting any better. But I don't seem to be compelled to take a lesson to figure out how to improve.

Are there other aspects of your life where you feel that you're constantly learning and growing and developing those talents and abilities? For me, it's mental ability. I'm always reading the latest books I can find and trying on new mindsets.

Fixed Mindset

Does this sound familiar? After endless studies in all kinds of environments, Dweck found that we all start out flexible in our approach but at some point, we can develop a fixed mindset about our abilities.

How do you know if you have a fixed mindset in a given area of your life?

  • You think you can learn new things, but you can't really change your abilities or who you are. You either have natural talent or you don't.
  • You think you should know how to do things easily, effortlessly, and immediately.
  • You tend to see difficulty as a sign that it's not right for you.
  • You tend to quit at the first sign of failure.
  • You tend to look at your own successes and other people's failures.
  • You think the world owes you a good life.
  • You find success in winning and nothing else.

Growth Mindset

Dweck also found that some people have a growth mindset about their abilities.

How do you know if you have a growth mindset in a given area of your life?

  • You believe that you can always change, grow and improve your abilities and expand or enrich who you are.
  • You love a challenge and the more difficult or challenging the task, the more you enjoy it because it's an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • You tend to get motivated by failure.
  • You think you earn a good life and the journey is as important as the destination.
  • You find success in learning and improving, not just winning.

Belief-Driven Mindsets

Dweck mentions it briefly, but I think that beliefs create these two mindsets. I started school when I was 5 1/2 years old. Some of the other kids were almost a year older and more physically mature. I was smaller than most and always chosen last for sports. Throughout grade school, junior high and high school I lagged the best athletes by six months to a year. Is it any wonder that I developed a fixed mindset belief that "I'm not good at sports?"

Can you imagine how this limiting belief caused me to avoid tennis or golf or football. Can you imagine how this would prevent me from learning because the belief implies that it would be a waste of time?

In college I took a semester of handball and rose from a complete retard to 3rd best in singles. My double's partner and I took first. That one event put a crimp in my fixed mindset about sports.

What do you believe you're not good at? What event or series of events caused you to develop that limiting belief? What if you could learn to improve and be better at it? How would that make you feel?

Grow Your Mindset

Dweck found that we can unlearn our fixed mindset and learn to develop a growth mindset about our abilities.

Are you in a fixed or a growth minded workplace? It took Kodak a long time to decide to learn about digital cameras and abandon film.

Are you in a fixed or growth minded relationship?

Are you in a fixed or a growth mindset about one or more of your abilities?

Are you passing these fixed mindsets on to your children or grandchildren rather than asking them what did you learn from this?

Those may be the core questions to ask yourself in any situation:
What can I learn from this? How can I improve the next time?

It doesn't matter if it's a missed promotion or a bad golf shot. It doesn't matter if it's a fight with your spouse or a mistake at work. Questions like: How can I improve and what can I learn? can take you a long way toward the success you desire.

If you catch yourself saying: "I'm not good at..." or "I can't .... because....", then you might want to change that limiting belief to "I'm learning to ...." because then everything becomes a learning event, not just a success or failure, a win or a loss.

It's up to you. Only you can decide if you'd prefer to stay stuck in a fixed mindset or to embrace a growth mindset.

Stop the insanity! Change your mind and change your life.

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