SUCCESS POINT: Mindset – The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck, in her book “Mindset”, talked about a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset and she said that “for 20 years her research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and as a result your life?”

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – 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 better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things that 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 an experience. Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset. Powerful stuff.

Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.

When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world – the world fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.

In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It’s means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.

In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.

You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They are powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind. So how do you do it? Putting in the time (the years perhaps) of passion, toil, and training.

Malcolm Gladwell, an author and New York writer, has suggested that as a society we value natural, effortless accomplishment over achievement through effort. We endow our heroes with superhuman abilities that lead them inevitably towards their greatness. It’s as if Midori Goto popped out of the womb fiddling, Michael Jordan dribbling, and Picasso doodling. This captures the fixed mindset perfectly. And it’s everywhere.

Did you know that Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children? That Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was completely uncoordinated and graceless as a child? That the photographer Cindy Sherman, who has been on virtually every list of the most important artists of the 20th century, failed her first photography course? That Geraldine Page, one of the greatest actresses, was advised to give it up for the lack of talent?

Michael Gelb, in his book “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” tells us: “Genius is made, not born.” You’re not born with natural talent. It comes from EXTREMELY hard work.

The growth-minded athletes, CEO’s, musicians, or scientists all loved what they did, whereas many of the fixed-minded ones did not.

Many growth-minded people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They got there as a result of doing what they love. It’s ironic: The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do.

This point is also crucial. In the 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 (love) what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.

How do you act when you feel depressed? Do you work harder at things in your life or do you let them go? Next time you feel low, put yourself in a growth mindset – think about learning, challenging, confronting obstacles. Think about effort as a positive, constructive force, not as a big drag. Try it out.

Michael Jordan embraced his failures. In fact, in one of his favorite ads for Nike, he says: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot, and missed.” You can be sure that each time, he went back and practiced the shot 100 times. So embrace your failures but then put in the extra work to be better next time.

Think of something you need to do, something you want to learn, or a problem you want to confront. What is it? Now make a concrete plan. When will you follow through on your plan? Where will you do it? How will you do it? Think about it in vivid detail.

These concrete plans – plans you can visualize – about when, where, and how you are going to do something lead to really high levels of follow-through, which, of course, up the chances of success.

So the idea is not only to make a growth-minded plan, but also to visualize, in a concrete way, how you’re going to carry it out. Planning. It’s huge. So make a concrete plan.

So, why not make changing your mindset one of your primary projects!? What would you need to do to re-wire your brain and create a growth mindset?!

Oh, and when/if things don’t quite go as you had in mind and life kicks your butt and you’re tempted to give up on your plan? Remember this gem from Dr. Dweck: “It would be nice if this didn’t happen, but it’s irrelevant. It might be easier to mobilize for action if I felt better but it doesn’t matter. The plan is the plan. In the book “Mindset” there were depressed students with the growth mindset? The worst they felt, the more they did the constructive thing. The less they felt like it, the more they made themselves do it. So, the critical thing is to make a concrete, growth-oriented plan, and stick to it.

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