When I was growing up I had a friend called Ben. He was one of them kids who seemed to have been born under a lucky star. You know the type; always picked as captain when we played football, always got good grades, and had loads of mates. As we grew up he was the first one of us to drive, buy a house, and get a job, which as time went on turned into his own amazingly well-paid business, followed by another bigger business. Within a couple of years he had bought an even bigger house with his beautiful wife, and a flash car. You know how it goes – in fact, you probably know a ‘Ben’ yourself; someone who oozes confidence, tries their hand at anything, and never seems to fail, he was the Golden Boy! He had a growth Mindset!
If truth be told it cheesed a lot of his mates off, especially Josh. Josh was the anti-Ben; lacking in any self belief, convinced he would fail at everything before he even tried, and constantly moaning about Ben’s achievements compared to his own – “It’s alright for him”, “Some people have all the luck”, “Why doesn’t that sort of stuff happen to me?”
The assumption that some people are just lucky and others aren’t is a dangerous one. It leads to complacency and resignation. The reason Ben achieved highly in all areas of his life and Josh didn’t was down to mindset. Ben always believed he could do it if he tried, he wasn’t afraid to learn new things, he wasn’t scared of new experiences, he strived, and worked hard. In short, he believed he could do anything he set his mind to. Josh didn’t. Josh believed his own limitations – limitations he himself had set. This is what is known as a Fixed Mindset.
People with a fixed mindset believe that whatever qualities they have are fixed traits that cannot be changed. If you are a ‘Josh’, you will believe that it is Ben’s natural talents alone that have got him where he is today, and that effort was not required. Do you have a fixed mindset? Here are some of the signs:
- You believe that your basic abilities and talents are fixed traits
- You have a fear of looking dumb – this holds you back from trying new things, you are worried about others’ perceptions of you
- You want to appear intelligent, but you believe that your intelligence is fixed and cannot be modified
Can you see how closed that mindset is? It’s boxing you in and stopping you from achieving what is easily within your reach. Your own mind is what is stopping you; so change it. Now.
Ben had a Growth Mindset; an underlying belief that effort on his part would lead to success, that he could grow smarter with time and experience. He put in the extra time – football practice, extra driving lessons, school work, and in time applied those rules to his personal and work life. Do you have a growth mindset?
- You believe that your abilities and intelligence can be developed with learning, effort, and persistence
- You believe everyone can become smarter and more accomplished if they try
- You believe that basic abilities are a starting point for potential
If you have identified yourself as having a fixed mindset it means your fixed beliefs about yourself are holding you back from positive change. It means you probably avoid situations where those traits that you think are fixed (intelligence, your weight, a bad habit) could cause you to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
So, how can you create a growth mindset? Here are some tips to help you.
- Acknowledge and Embrace Your Weaknesses – we all have them, but knowing what they are means you can change them. Create specific habits to tackle your limitations head on. Make modest goals and give yourself a set time to accomplish them. Be honest about your limitations and it will help you to form the belief that you are 100% capable of changing them and accomplishing any major goal.
- View Challenges as Opportunities – The more we challenge ourselves the more opportunities we have to learn about ourselves. Don’t use excuses to stay in your comfort zone – accept that new job offer, call that new contact you’ve been meaning to all week, and see the opportunities open up before your very eyes.
- Use The Right Learning Strategies For YOU – There are various styles of learning, and they aren’t all right for everyone. Maybe you are a visual learner and need to spend hours watching YouTube tutorials, or maybe reading articles works for you. Perhaps you are someone who needs to learn as part of a group, or maybe learning alone is the best way for your brain to soak up the information. When you know what works best for you, you can get better at studying, and your knowledge will begin to expand.
- Remember Your Brain Changes Throughout Your Life – Be aware that your brain is constantly changing and it will help you to adopt a growth mindset. Your brain is constantly forming new connections allowing it to make adjustments when you are faced with new situations.
- Prioritise Learning Over Seeking Approval – Don’t worry about what others think of you, focus on bettering yourself for your own benefit.
- Work With Purpose – Always work with purpose so that you have the motivation to keep working. Ask yourself on a regular basis what is the purpose of the work you are doing. Do you just enjoy it, or is it part of a bigger goal?
- Learn to Receive Constructive Criticism – Think of criticism as a way to learn. It makes you aware of your faults so that you can focus on improving them. Don’t take constructive criticism personally; often people are trying to help rather than trying to cut you down.
- Need For Improvement Does Not Equal Failure – Needing to improve doesn’t mean you have failed. It just means you are not quite there yet.
- Learning is “Brain Training” – The more you learn, the more you are training your brain to act a certain way and make various connections. It is vital to be open to the idea of manipulating your brain to keep up with current trends as the world evolves and changes.
- Develop a Gritty Attitude – If you have passion for what you are doing it will give you the perseverance to see it though. If you want to be successful in your field having a deep interest in your work is one of the most important things to keep you motivated each day. If you want to accomplish your long-term goals, you have to have the ‘grit’ to keep you on track and make it happen.
- Never Stop Learning – Growth-minded people continue to create new goals so that they stay motivated and interested. Never stop learning! Set a new goal for every goal you accomplish – that is the secret of a growth mindset.
- Remember That it Will Take Time – Nothing worth doing comes quickly and easily, so be realistic about how long it will take to learn the information you are interested in and to achieve your goals. You might have to try several different learning methods, or keep trying new techniques until something sticks – but stay focused on the process.
Anyone can develop a growth mindset, you just have to be willing and committed to changing your beliefs about what you are able to do. Do not stay in your little box where you were born with all the talents and abilities you will ever have – break out and grow! Take action to learn and stay motivated and focus on how it will benefit you in the long run to achieve more success throughout your life.
If you’ve found yourself stuck in life, it could be that a fixed mindset is what’s holding you back. The mind is a hugely powerful thing, and allowing it to grow could see you soon achieving more success throughout all avenues of your life.