Have you ever been told you’re clever? Have you ever thought ‘I’m so great at this, I don’t need to even try to be successful’? Nice as they are to hear, statements like this actually inhibit your ability to exceed your current capabilities. They create a belief system that handicaps your mental fortitude; it’s called […]
Have you ever been told you’re clever? Have you ever thought ‘I’m so great at this, I don’t need to even try to be successful’? Nice as they are to hear, statements like this actually inhibit your ability to exceed your current capabilities. They create a belief system that handicaps your mental fortitude; it’s called a fixed mindset and it’s keeping you from reaching and ultimately outgrowing your potential.
There’s growing evidence to show that how we are educated to think about intelligence and effort shapes our responses to adversity. When children believe they can get smarter, they know that making an effort improves their performance despite any failures along the way. However, if they believe everyone has a fixed level of intelligence and ability, they dismiss effort as pointless, and failure as a reason to give up. These beliefs carry on into adulthood and cause us to put ourselves into boxes labelled ‘good at maths’ or ‘can’t learn to juggle’.
On the other hand, when we learn to prioritise growth and learning over the misleading binary of either success or failure, we break out of our boxes. It’s all about deciding that effort trumps ability. Choose a growth mindset and discover just how much you’re capable of.
- I view challenges as opportunities. We all like things to go smoothly, but it’s the challenging situations that offer us the best chance to develop and grow. Plan for your projects to work out, but be mentally prepared to take on any obstacles that arise.
- I am self-aware. Self-awareness about your skills and abilities will help you understand what mental roadblocks you need to work through to accomplish all you’re capable of. For example, if you have a short attention span, set a work routine in place that manages or utilises this tendency by scheduling shorter task blocks and acknowledging when you need to take a break to gather your thoughts.
- I replace the word ‘failing’ with ‘learning’. Instead of seeing mistakes or failures as setbacks, recognise that they’re a positive chance to learn and grow. Constant success is a sign that you may not be pushing yourself. Decide whether you’re happy where you are – if you’re not, it’s time to start thinking about where you need to grow.
- I reward actions, not traits. Think less about what talents you have and more about the projects you complete. Consider your talents not as accomplishments themselves but as the tools you have to achieve great things.
- I give encouraging feedback. If you’re giving feedback, make sure it’s helpful. There’s little to be gained from telling someone they’re doing something wrong. Help them figure out how to do it better. You might also learn something along the way.
- I can’t do it… yet. Learn to love the word ‘yet’. Next time you talk about something you don’t know how to do, add ‘yet’ to your sentence and see what a difference it makes to your attitude towards the task. ‘I don’t know how to juggle’ versus ‘I don’t know how to juggle yet’ – the latter sets you up for future success.
- I take risks and embrace learning. Lose your fear of publicly failing. Chances are if you’re pushing yourself, it’ll happen at some point; accept this likelihood and get ready to learn from it when it does. A time will come when you lose your anxiety and only see how you can become stronger for it.
- I cultivate resilience and grit. These are the big ones. Resilience is the ability to adapt to adversity and setbacks, while grit is the drive that sustains your effort towards your long term goals. A growth mindset is all about the effort you put in and how the ability to stay resilient, perseverant and optimistic will help you flourish. Challenge yourself to stay emotionally and mentally open for all opportunities.