What made you accomplish everything you have so far? Is it talent or effort? Is it both?
What you can do doesn’t matter. Your potential doesn’t accomplish anything until effort is involved. However, this isn’t how people with a fixed mindset think. I know I wasn’t used to thinking like this.
See, I was a great performer in class even though I would put in little to no effort into studying. So, I cultivated this dangerous mindset that I didn’t need to do much to accomplish anything in life. And that effort meant my mind isn’t working as excellently as it should be.
In a nutshell, I started thinking effort=untalented.
So I drifted through life putting less effort into everything as years hurried along. Anything I wanted to do would be a chance to prove my brilliance and reflect my personality. What a jerk!
But instead of seeing my dreams come true, they moved farther from me.
Everything that was churning in my mind at that time is what Carol Dweck, a professor at Standford University, calls a fixed mindset. And it’s plaguing the minds of many people, hindering them from achieving what they want.
If that’s you, I want you to start ditching the fixed mindset and embrace the growth mindset. It’s the only way you’ll start getting what you want in life — there’s no other way.
So how can you change a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?
1. Believe You Can Change
One of the worst ways to destroy your dreams is by believing that you cannot do certain things no matter how you try. So you end up not trying at all.
In Dweck’s book, The Mindset, she states:
“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them…”
But to embrace the growth mindset, you have to think that you can learn some things. You might not be excellent at doing that thing as Sam is but it’s worth learning, improving and learning again.
She further explains that:
“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
2. Love A Challenge When It Comes and Turn It To A Learning Break
Stop saying “I hate this challenge” and start viewing it as a test that will propel you forward. That’s what challenges are basically, preparation for more success.
But you have to insist on tackling challenges. You have to find a challenge when life feels stagnant. They are the only way to discover what you are capable of — what you can do when you stretch your abilities.
Challenges are the only measure of what you’re made of.
3. Seek Lessons Instead of Approval
I may tell you to stop seeking approval from others all I want but it won’t help because: what other option do you have? Well, I said it.
Seek to find a lesson in everything you do and your approval-seeking tendencies will fade away with every other irrelevant thing in your life.
To embrace the growth mindset, you have to gradually force yourself to be less of a people-pleaser. And instead of thinking, “Will people like what I do”, think, “What can I learn from this? Do I truly need to do this to grow?”
4. Prioritize Progress Over Perfection
“I don’t want to seem like I am struggling with this. I want to produce perfect results. I want to be the best right from the start.” Do any of these statements sound like you? Well, it has to stop if you want a growth mindset.
There’s a blurry line between great work and perfect work. And although people use perfect to describe incredibly amazing works, the truth is: it’s usually awfully close to perfect — not exactly perfect.
Progress is the only thing that matters in life. Progress in your thinking, your value, your understanding — progress in everything. So:
The best you can do in this life is to give 100 percent of your effort and abilities, check the results and move on.
In Cynthia Marinakos’ article Progress or Perfection? 5 Proven Ways To Keep Calm and Write On, she illustrates how perfection ruins the progress of writing careers and the gradual steps one can take to move forward. Although it’s geared towards writers, it can work in all the areas in life since it focuses on progress.
5. Reward Your Work, Not Results
You gave your 100 percent to a three-month project. It’s now over? Great. Treat yourself because of your discipline, effort, and resilience.
If you want to embrace the growth mindset, you must understand that actions are what matters most. They are the true determinants of your progress. Let me explain this in another way —
See, great results may mean a lot of things. The effort, getting lucky, incompetent opponents, substandard scorekeeping…you name it. So, the results should be about you interpreting them, celebrating the work which caused them, and learning something from the results.
Dweck puts it clearly when she says:
“In a fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail — or if you’re not the best — it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”
6. Know That You Are Always Becoming
If you want to adopt the growth mindset, you must understand that when you’re struggling with something, you are yet to master it. Don’t settle on failure, no. You are still becoming.
In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama states:
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
Yeah, it never ends. At least for those with a growth mindset. Even when you feel like it’s over, gear your mind to think of the next step to becoming.
7. Redefine Genius
Yeah, yeah you mostly were taught that a genius in your life is the kid who didn’t care much about studying but still passed their exams. But have you ever researched where all those geniuses end up in life?
What about Sam who wasn’t the smarty pants in your school? People may be calling him a Digital Marketing Genius right now and you keep wondering how that happened. It’s simple: he embraced the growth mindset.
As you learn more and become great at what you do, people will see it and start calling you a master and genius. Yet all it took was progressive actions.
According to researchers, today’s geniuses need creativity to truly revolutionize the world. This takes practice, stretching existing abilities, and coming up with new ideas ignited by progress.
Why The Growth Mindset?
If you embrace the growth mindset, effort will be fun, life will be fascinating. You would stop bathing in failure and start enjoying your capabilities.
The growth mindset is the most powerful tool you can use in your life. It leads you through an intriguing path of self-discovery until you reach your grave declaring, “That was one hell of a ride!”