Extensive research shows that most successful people have a mindset that is positive and optimistic. They believe they have control over their lives, not that events control them. They believe that being successful helps everyone and exploits no one.
Most successful people have a mindset focused on growth and learning what they need to achieve all their goals. They have a mindset that asks, “Why not?” “What can I learn from this?” “What if?” They have confidence in their abilities to do what is necessary to win.
Most successful people don’t believe they are in competition with everyone they meet. They understand they are creating the extraordinary life they want. They don’t have to take from someone else to do that. They don’t believe everyone is out to get them.
I have declared myself a Dionarap.
* One who believes that everyone is out to help him.
(OK, it’s just paranoid spelled backwards. You got me.)
Did you hear about the optimist and the pessimist living next door to each other? They both had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to get to work on time at similar jobs. The optimist jumped up when he heard the opportunity clock go off. He pulled the blinds open and yelled, “Good morning, God!” The pessimist hit the snooze on his alarm clock five times before he finally dragged himself out of bed. He peeked through his blinds and growled, “Good god, it’s morning.”
Who do you think is going to have a better day?
Get ready for an amazing insight coming at you. People with a good, positive, optimistic attitude tend to enjoy their day more and accomplish more than people with a negative, depressing, pessimistic attitude. See, I told you—deep insight. You’re welcome.
Growth and Fixed Mindsets
Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, suggests there are two types of mindsets. A fixed mindset believes that your intelligence, talents, skills, and personality are largely set and there is little you can do to change them. A growth mindset believes that you can learn, grow, and improve anything through effort, experience, and practice. There may be upper limits we can reach based on what we were born with, but nothing is set in stone.
Guess which mindset Professor Dweck’s research showed was seen more in successful people?
Mindset explains that people with a fixed mindset play it safe to protect their positive beliefs about themselves. If you’re smart, things come easy to you. So if something is hard, it’s better not to do it. Otherwise, you will have to conclude you’re not smart.
Dweck found that when these people didn’t do well at something, it threatened their belief in their fixed intelligence so much that some of them would even lie about their performance to protect themselves.
Have you ever had a boss who took all the credit but none of the blame? If he received constructive criticism, he would blame the messenger? When you brought a new idea, he would reject it immediately and even become angry with you for trying to move the company to keep up with the times? Those are some of the traits of a fixed mindset manager.
People with the growth mindset are more willing to try new things and struggle with hard tasks. They get excited about learning and getting better. They’re willing to take more risks because every little failure they might endure isn’t proof that they’re not smart. It’s just a bump in the road as they learn, grow, and become smarter. Growth mindset people actually enjoy that process.
This type of manager welcomes new ideas and sees them as opportunities for everyone on the team, including him, to stretch, learn, and grow. He can take criticism in stride knowing that we all have weak spots and with hard work we can develop new skills and get better where we need to. He can share credit with his employees because he doesn’t have to prove he’s the smartest person in the room.
Which type of manager do you want to be, or work for?
The growth mindset leads you to try new things, take on new challenges, learn from criticism, share credit with your team, and keep pace with changes in your field.
The fixed mindset leads you to play it safe, react angrily to criticism, blame others and circumstances for your failures, and avoid new challenges and new ideas for fear of having your intelligence and abilities questioned or threatened.
Well, that’s just great, Greg. Reading this, I have figured out that I’m a fixed mindset person. So I guess I’m not going to succeed.
Whoa, tap the brakes, Speed Racer. That type of thinking is the fixed mindset thinking. You’re born one way and that’s it. Well, I have good news for you. Almost no one has a totally fixed mindset; we are all somewhere on the continuum between fixed and growth. Here’s some more good news: You can choose your mindset. It’s not set in stone.
When you are about to try something new, get yourself into the growth mindset before you begin. Tell yourself you are about to learn and grow. You might not get it right immediately, but if you put in the effort you will succeed. When you make a mistake, tell yourself you just learned something and you’re now one step closer to reaching your goal.
Then pay attention to your self-talk; you can catch yourself making limiting, fixed mindset statements and stop them in their tracks. Imagine you have an opportunity to lead a new project at work. There are some new concepts involved in it and you’re not sure about it. Your fixed mindset thoughts might say, This is risky. What if I fail? I’ll be a failure. Maybe I’m just not smart enough or talented enough to do this.
When you notice these thoughts yell, Stop! Replace those thoughts with growth mindset thoughts. Say to yourself, This is a great opportunity for me. I may not know everything about this right now, but with hard work I can learn what I need. This will be a great chance to grow and expand my skills.
(If this post resonated with you, check out my book, GO! How to Find and Pursue Your Passionate Purpose, available in paperback and audiobook.)