Building a Mindset for Success
Want to become more athletic, creative, intelligent, or even artistic? Here’s how!
Through more than thirty years of systematic research, Carol Dweck has been figuring out answers to why some people achieve their potential while equally talented or intelligent others don’t. The key, she found, isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at yourself and your ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed. She describes these two perspectives as the Fixed mindset and the Growth mindset.
Mindsets are beliefs—beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Dweck describes Mindset as the view you adopt of yourself—whether you believe your abilities and characteristics can change (a growth mindset), or whether you believe your abilities and characteristics are set in stone (a fixed mindset).
People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are just givens. They believe they have a certain amount of brains and talent and nothing can change that. If they have a lot, they’re all set, but if they don’t… well, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. People in this mindset:
- Believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits
- Worry about their traits and how adequate they are
- Suggest that talent alone creates success—rather than effort
- Feel they have something to prove to themselves and others
- Can avoid challenges and give up easily
- Can see effort and feedback as fruitless
- Can feel threatened by the success of others
- Don’t change or improve with time
- Could plateau early and not meet their true potential
Examples of Fixed mindsets:
“I’m not good with numbers.”
“It’s harder for me to lose weight.”
“I’m not a natural athlete.”
“I’m not creative.”
“I’m a procrastinator.”
People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, see their qualities as things that can be developed through their dedication and effort. Sure they’re happy if they’re brainy or talented, but that’s just the starting point. People in this mindset:
- Understand that no one has ever accomplished great things, not Mozart, Darwin, or Michael Jordan, without years of passionate practice and learning
- Believe they can get smarter if they work hard to learn
- Embrace challenge and persist in the face of setbacks
- See effort as being the path to mastery
- Learn from feedback and find lessons/inspiration in the success of others
- Have a greater sense of freewill
- Constantly learn and change in striving to achieve their full potential
Examples of Growth mindsets:
“I’m willing to get good at numbers”
“I will get better if I keep at this”
“Failure and setbacks are part of learning”
“I enjoy learning and overcoming challenges and setbacks”
With a growth mindset, you view effort as an essential ingredient on the path to mastery. You don’t shy away from effort; you embrace it. And when you see others succeeding on their path to mastery, you find inspiration and lessons to learn for your own development.
A growth mindset leads you into an upward spiral of continuing developing, reaching ever-higher levels of personal mastery and achievement. These self-actualising individuals have more peak experiences, improved relationships, and greater productivity in their fields of endeavour.
How to Build a Growth Mindset
Think of your brain as a muscle. Muscles need to be nurtured and if you want them to grow, you need to work them and pay attention to them. This is how you develop a growth mindset – train your brain muscle! It’s your daily actions that will change what you believe about yourself and the person you become. It’s about setting a schedule, showing up, and sticking to it. It’s about focusing on building the right identity rather than worrying about getting the right result.
Here are four effective ways to train or focus your mind towards a growth mindset, and move away from a fixed mindset:
1. Be Willing…
Since these are your thoughts, you can change them. This is the essence of personal power: choice and responsibility. As Victor Frankl wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken away from a person but one thing – the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances; to choose one’s own way.” Be willing to change. Be bold. Be willing to make choices. Be willing to take the challenge.
2. Feed the Mindset you want…
The fastest way to change your mindset is to feed the one you want to create. Scientists find that every time you feed a positive mindset, it weakens the negative ones. Professional athletes and top sports people have known this for years. They focus just as much time on their psychological state as their physical, usually with their own mindset coaches and strategies to feed the right mindset for performing at their best.
3. Embrace the change…
You need to have passion for the new mindset you want to create. This creates endorphins in your body that are essential for change. Research has found that endorphins are largely responsible for how you learn, change and retain muscle memory. They give a person heart and meaning and the enthusiasm for change.
4. Hear & challenge your inner voice…
Learn to hear your voice. What are you telling yourself? What beliefs do you have? Start to recognise that you have a choice. Sometimes it helps to write it down so you can more easily identify what it is and then assess the alternatives. Reframe your fixed beliefs with some Growth Mindset statements. Here’s list of questions to help you adopt a growth mindset:
- What can I learn from this?
- What steps can I take to help me succeed?
- Do I know the outcome or goal I’m after?
- What information can I gather? And from where?
- Where can I get constructive feedback?
- If I had a plan to be successful at [blank], what might it look like?
- When will I follow through on my plan?
- Where will I follow through on my plan?
- How will I follow through on my plan?
- What did I learn today?
- What mistake did I make that taught me something?
- Is my current learning strategy working? If not, how can I change it?
- What did I try hard at today?
- What habits must I develop to continue the gains I’ve achieved?
Change your mindset and you can change your life…. So, what mindset are you going to choose?
Dweck, Carol S. (2008). Mindset :the new psychology of success New York : Ballantine Books.
Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.