I’ve never been the smartest, fastest, or most talented person. When I played sports growing up, I was the last player waved in from the bench. I was usually one of the last students to finish tests. I don’t pick up complex concepts on the first attempt.
I don’t fixate on these perceived weaknesses because my abilities aren’t etched in stone. They are malleable. My level of success is determined by what I believe about my potential.
My current skills are mostly irrelevant. I will improve over time if I put in the time to learn the appropriate skills, strategies, and frameworks. This mindset propels me towards greater success.
The growth mindset isn’t a cliche. It’s a belief system that permeates everything you do. It guides your behaviors and reactions. You can develop the growth mindset by crushing your fear of failure, widening your perspective, and choosing process over results.
Crush your fear of failure
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
We should embrace failure. That’s not an open invitation to accept any type of failure. We should seek out mistakes that result from reaching and straining at the edge of our abilities. We’ll fall short in many of these attempts. We’ll stretch our way towards growth.
Most young NBA players are below-average long distance shooters. The process of extending their shooting range takes years. They start by improving their mid range shot.
From there, they step out one foot further from the basket. They slowly make their way out to the three point line. They fail countless times in the practice laboratory as they stretch their shooting abilities.
Players who are afraid to fail will not take the steps required to expand their skill set. They’ll never develop the weakest areas of their game.
When your identity is defined by your results, you develop a fear of making mistakes. This mindset destroys the love of learning.
On the flip side, fostering a passion for growth destroys the fear of failure. With a growth mindset, failures are stepping stones that lead to higher levels of success.
Widen your perspective
“Where we were almost didn’t matter because we were becoming something greater.”
– Will Smith
The fixed mindset shrinks our perspective to the narrow tunnel of the now. It intensifies the present moment. Our identity is riding on this at bat. Our self-image changes like Silly Putty with every outcome.
On the other end of the spectrum, the growth mindset widens your perspective. It enables you to see beyond your current circumstances.
A setback is only one at bat that brings many valuable lessons and feedback. There will be so many other at bats. You will not even remember this one a year from today.
When you cultivate the growth mindset, you shift your attention to who you’re becoming. It removes the pressure of proving yourself to the world.
It releases you from being weighed down by seeking validation from others. When your value and identity aren’t tied to the outcome, you react to challenges differently.
You can flip problems around to spot opportunities and solutions. These problems transform into gifts disguised as challenges.
They present you with an opportunity to sharpen your skills. In the process of overcoming these challenges, you develop skills that will equip you to tackle bigger challenges tomorrow.
Choose process over results
According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, praising students for their intelligence encourages a fixed mindset while praising effort leads to improved performance as well as greater perseverance, confidence, and willingness to attempt challenging assignments.
This message doesn’t just apply to students. We don’t stop growing and developing when we leave school. We should continue to praise ourselves for the right kind of effort.
We should reward ourselves when we follow the right process instead of chasing immediate results. Today, you may not have the necessary skill level to achieve your goal. Through committed, consistent, and strategic effort, you’ll level up your skills.
When you focus on growth instead of shortcomings, you develop a forward looking, optimistic, and resourceful mindset. You look for answers and solutions that guide you towards your goals.
It’s the ultimate glass half-full mentality. It’s the opposite of an empty calories positive thinking philosophy though. It’s a brick by brick building process. The gains materialize when you combine the forward looking mentality with consistent actions that improve your abilities.
Start embracing this powerful mindset today. Start responding to life’s challenges with the same mindset you adopt when you play games on your phone. I don’t attach any meaning or importance to my Tetris results.
My awesome Tetris skills don’t change the way I view or judge myself. When I play, I just try to improve so I can reach the next level. We can apply the same mentality to get to the next level in life.
How do you embrace the growth mindset? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!