Is there one way to
achieve success in whatever you do? According to a growing body of work by Stanford
psychologist Carol Dweck, there might just be…
And that is to start off with the right mindset.
Think of your mindset as the lens through which you see the world. This lens selectively organises and encodes information to give you a unique view that affects the way you respond to the world. These responses are your behaviours, and they can change your path in life.
So what lens do you want to look through to give you the biggest chance at success?
Dweck has pioneered the research into a mindset she calls ‘Growth Mindset’ - this is the belief that abilities aren’t fixed traits and people aren’t born gifted, but talents are built…through effort and persistence.
People with a growth mindset tend to achieve more in their lives, because they care less about making mistakes, and more about what they’re learning. This leads to more resilient, more confident, less stressed individuals. When whole organisations take on a growth mindset, it leads to a more empowered, committed, collaborative and innovative workforce.
If you’re thinking, “Oh
that sounds great, I wish I had a growth mindset, but I just don’t think like
that”, then 1) you’re doing it wrong, and 2) good thing you’re reading this
blog because it’ll teach you how you can get your very own growth mindset.
Step 1: Challenge your assumptions
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.” – Henry Ford
We often make assumptions in life, and we make assumptions about ourselves too. The first step to changing your mindset is to re-evaluate those assumptions you’ve made about yourself. Don’t think you’re creative? When was the last time you worked on a creative project? Dismantle those assumptions, and instead assume that you’re capable of anything should you put your mind to it.
Step 2: Change your story
“The voice in the head tells a story that the body believes in and reacts to.” – Eckhart Tolle
Make the choice to change what the voice in your head says. When the voice says “I won’t be able to do it, I’m not smart enough”, answer back with “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.” When the voice says “It’s not my fault”, tell it “If I don’t take responsibility for my part in it, I can’t fix it. Let me learn whatever I can.” How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is your choice. And when you’ve made that choice, your behaviour will respond to it. Start speaking back to that fixed-mindset voice.
Step 3: Try and fail
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
If you don’t test ideas, you’ll never know how successful they could be. You could be sitting on the best idea since sliced bread (or toasted sourdough bread with smashed avocado!).
You’re not going to get things perfect first time. Don’t let that stop you from trying something out. The only way you’ll get to something great is by correcting your mistakes, tweaking the things that just weren’t quite right, and trying again and again.
Step 4: Learn
“Improve by 1% a day, and in just 70 days, you’re twice as good.” – Alan Weiss
Learning is vital after failure so that when you try again you’re one step closer to success. Be explicit about what went wrong, what you’ve learnt, and how you’ll make a change next time you try.
But also don’t limit learning to when you’ve failed. Every day we can learn new things, hone our skills, and develop our thinking. Continuous learning is what we need to meet the ever-demanding expectations of the world around us, and added up over time, this will amount to huge leaps in capability.
Mindful learning, regular reflection, and plenty of questions is what you need to strive for. And don’t forget to keep asking for feedback along the way.
Step 5. Persevere
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
As your mindset develops into a growth mindset, you will naturally persist more with challenges. Because every failure is an opportunity to change something for the better. But start off with the knowledge that you won’t get to where you want to be without a lot of hard work.
Step 6. Spread the mindset
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.” – J. W. Goethe
A growth mindset doesn’t just help you achieve success but those around you too. Your mindset is infectious.
If you have a growth mindset, you’ll believe that friends, colleagues and teams can achieve great things if they put the work in. And because you know that it takes effort and practice to do those great things, you’ll spend more time teaching and coaching others and keep encouraging them to persist. This gives others the skills they need to flourish and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Beware that a fixed mindset is infectious too. If you believe that someone failed at a task because they’re not capable, nobody will be willing to admit mistakes. Sound familiar? See how this would stifle innovation as well? Be the change you want to see and spread your growth mindset to your team.
Having a mindset for growth will lead to success.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead - try it out.
*The Right Mindset for Success