In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson shares practical advice for not letting other people affect your state of mind. In You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero shares how limiting beliefs get in the way of making the type of money you really want.
Whenever the gurus of the world talk about mindsets, they’re talking about your personal beliefs and how they can get in the way of finding success or achieving personal satisfaction.
Before talking about the benefits of cultivating a growth mindset, it helps to start by first defining the opposite situation: a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset involves a self-imposed limitation — like what Sincero discusses in terms of personal finance. As Carol Dweck wrote in her book MindSet: The New Psychology of Success, “It assumes that our character, intelligence and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way”.
Also, according to Dweck, a growth mindset is “the tendency to believe that you can grow.” This is the mindset that I’ve adopted as an ecommerce entrepreneur, one that I firmly believe you can also embody — with the right path forward.
Doing battle with an existing fixed mindset
Before you can embrace a growth mindset, you need to be able to admit to yourself if you’re currently stuck in a fixed mindset.
For those operating with a fixed mindset, the belief is that effort is not required to succeed because intellect cannot be changed. Those with a fixed mindset truly believe that their existing talent, skills and intelligence alone can lead them to success — so long as they stay in their lane.
People with a growth mindset believe that going after challenges provides the ability to see failure as part of learning and growth — instead of it being evidence of unintelligence. This mindset offers permission to experiment, with the understanding that intelligence and skill develop with time and experience. As a result, people operating with a growth mindset give themselves permission to increase their efforts when they believe in something.
To be sure, most people are operating with both mindsets simultaneously — a different mindset for different aspects of their lives. The key to overcoming limiting beliefs is to first recognize them, then to consciously choose to think a different way.
Acknowledge your weakness.
Staying in your comfort zone makes it hard for growth to happen. Consider this example: Recall a time when you were in school and were dealing with a subject that you struggled with. Perhaps you told people, “I’m just not a science person” after dealing with a string of bad test grades.
If you ever want to get better, you must first stop with the excuses — they’ll keep you exactly where you are.
If you were to instead tell yourself, “I’m currently struggling with science, but I know that I could be better with more practice,” you’re putting yourself in the right direction to get a good grade on your next test (assuming you follow through with that extra practice).
It helps to give yourself a specific reason to get over your limiting mindsets (e.g. “I want to get a better grade on my science tests”).
Of course, the process to successfully adopt a growth mindset is a bit more complicated than that — so let’s dig in a bit deeper.
Learn to see challenges as opportunities.
For those with a growth mindset, challenges are seen as an opportunity to grow and learn, rather than just being an obstacle. People with growth mindsets aren’t afraid to push themselves outside of their comfort zones — they embrace the opportunity to learn from however the experience eventually shakes out.
When’s the last time you were challenged to do something outside of your comfort zone? Even if it was terrifying to put yourself out there, you’ll likely find that it all turned out for the best in the end — better than if you hadn’t taken a chance. Even if you failed.
More on that, next.
Learn how to accept failure.
If you learn how to accept challenges and see them as opportunities, you must also learn to accept failure and be willing to take risks. After all, failure is part of growth and fearing failure will ultimately get in the way of doing what’s best for your business.
To truly create a growth mindset, you must accept that no matter how hard you try to do something, it won’t always turn out the way you’d hoped.
Don’t seek approval. Focus on learning.
People with a fixed mindset spend a lot of time worrying about what other people will say about their intelligence and talent. In order to embrace a growth mindset, you must learn how to stop being concerned about what other people think and about getting their approval.
So, focus on your own learning and growth. Instead of spending your precious time thinking about other people, use this time to improve yourself for your own benefit.
Learn how to effectively accept (and use) criticism.
Most people can’t accept criticism without getting offended. But, in order to cultivate a growth mindset, you must learn not to take criticism as a negative thing. Instead, accept that criticism is a way to learn and improve.
Smart businesses encourage feedback, ratings and reviews. Whenever they’re negative, growth-focused businesses use this information to make improvements.
Focus on the process, not the result.
Rather than being too concerned with whether you’re achieving the result you desire, focus more on the process of achieving that result. Learn how to enjoy the learning process and seek out ideas to make improvements as you go.
Create time for daily reflection.
At the end of every day, spend some time thinking about what went well … and what didn’t. If you don’t create time to reflect, it’s hard to learn. Creating a routine around reflection can help you to understand how your own actions may be impeding your success, before they become a major issue.
Whether you’re an employee at a company or have started your own venture, the ability to move from a fixed mindset to one that’s focused on growth is necessary to overcome limiting thoughts. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine what you’re capable of — nobody else can tell you otherwise.