Many psychologists believe that humans operate in two types of mindsets: fixed or growth. The difference between the two depends on how we handle challenges, failure and success. Let’s say two children are given a challenging math problem (with one having a fixed mindset and the other a growth mindset).
The child with the fixed mindset believes his ability has a limit and once that limit is reached he is worthless. But the child with the growth mindset believes if the problem exceeds his current ability then he can elevate his ability through learning to eventually solve it, even if it takes time.
Many millionaires believe having a growth mindset is the reason they were able to overcome failure and setbacks.
All of us know someone who is stuck in an obvious fixed mindset, but it can harder for us to recognize parts of our own fixed mindsets.
Here are 5 new habits to practice to get out of your comfort zone and into the growth mindset most successful people exercise:
- Remove your self-worth from the outcome
The biggest difference between having a growth mindset and a fixed one is how we connect our self-worth to our success. A person with a growth mindset is not crippled when they make a mistake because they do not take the failure as personal one. They consider it as an opportunity to improve themselves. People with fixed mindsets often lose hope when handling their failures because they see it as a reflection of their personal ability. Everyone is able to learn and to improve. Do not let mistakes steal your motivation and rob you of success.
- Visualize your success
The law of attraction says if you channel your energy into an outcome, it will manifest. If you have a fixed mindset, you may only see as far as you have come, with no real belief you can achieve beyond your current status. However, a person with the growth mindset visualizes gaining the skills and opportunities needed in order to be successful – even if it seems impossible from where they are now. A person with a growth mindset believes they can learn to do anything and does not let fear or anxiety paralyze their lives because of unfamiliarity or invalidation.
Remember: If your dreams do not scare you, they aren’t big enough.
- Use positive language
One the biggest reasons why people fail to progress is because they shoot their opportunities down before they can even take them. Negative language about ourselves comes from our own doubt that we have the ability and fear that the world will know we do not have the ability. A person with a growth mindset views the potential mistake as a learning experience versus a fixed mindset who views the mistake as a failure. Positively validate your ability, even if it is lower than what the task requires because that task does not define you, your mindset does.
- Accept challenges
Do not let a fixed and fearful mindset lead you down a path that is less satisfying simply because it is easy. Life is about risk and reward. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward… and therefore the bigger the lesson if you fail. No human is perfect. So making mistakes is a large part of life. In fact, many millionaires have multiple failure stories that led them to their first big success. A person with a fixed mindset will lament about their shortcomings and miss the lesson on how to improve. A person with a growth mindset will automatically start to look for alternative solutions after a failure because they know it only indicates they need to gain more skill and knowledge.
- Check your thoughts
Our behavior is consistent with our beliefs. It is not easy to unlearn behavior that contributes to a fixed mindset but not impossible if you practice consistency. The most important habit to form in order to change your mindset is checking your thoughts and consciously acknowledging the behaviors you want to change. Once you are aware, then you will be compelled to implement the new behavior. And over time you will find yourself checking less and growing more.
Undertaking a personality change is a tall task, even for the most flexible person. But your attitude about making the change is the change itself. Learn from your mistakes, be grateful for the opportunity to exercise your skills and always stay positive to feed your new growth mindset.
Prof. Sinu Nambiar
Indira College of Engineering and Management, Pune.