You know that feeling when you face a great opportunity; personal, professional or for your business, and you see how it could change your life, boost your health, wealth and/or happiness?
All you need to do is to say ‘yes’ and go for it. But instead, you give in to that little voice in your head: ‘No, you can’t do it – it’s not your area of expertise’, or ‘You don’t have what it takes’, ‘You’re too old, or too dumb to learn’.
You’re not dumb or too old to learn.
Of course, you’re capable of learning, trying new ways and expanding your horizons. But the old doubts kick in, and that little voice in your head drowns out your dreams: ‘Forget it, you’re not that talented’.
Don’t let that way of thinking kill your hunger for success.
Don’t make the mistake of not pursuing your dreams because you don’t have the ‘talents’ required for achieving the goal.
Moreover, forget all you know about talents and strengths.
You have been misled.
In the world reigned by superheroes, where perfection and immediate success is praised and pursued at all price, we forget that successful people weren’t born that way.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, dispels the myth of talent and ‘special powers’ and unveils the secret to outstanding performance – the blood, sweat, and tears.
Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work, said Albert Einstein. But that’s not all. There is one more thing you need to check before you roll up your sleeves. It’s your mindset.
The right mindset is crucial to success.
Growth Mindset – what’s that all about?
You may have heard of Carol Dweck’s work in the psychology of success area. The evidence from her research clearly points out that the single most important trait that all successful people have in common is their specific mindset.
Dweck’s excellent book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success ) presents Growth And Fixed Mindset – two beliefs systems about human abilities, intelligence, talent.
People with Fixed Mindset perceive all these as inborn, given at birth. The individual just needs to discover these gifts and follow them to achieve success. People with Fixed Mindset, according to Dweck, thrive when they do things within their reach – things they can do really well and be recognized for.
On the other hand, people with Growth Mindset believe you can grow, develop, and master whatever skills and abilities you wish in life. It’s all malleable and you’re the one who can make it happen. These people love stretching themselves, learning, overcoming challenges, working outside the comfort zone and growing. Their path to success is following the joy of growth and personal development.
Dweck is clear in her conclusions – it’s the effort you put in that makes your smart and successful, not your talents or level of intelligence. She gives multiple examples of children and adults who achieved great things just by nurturing the right mindset.
So Growth Mindset is the way to go.
But you can’t just announce to the world: right, from now on I will have a growth mindset. ‘The path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation’, says Dweck (http://bigthink.com/neurobonkers/a-simple-principle-of-educational-psychology-has-been-massively-misunderstood).
What can you do to develop a Growth Mindset?
As Dweck explains, people usually have a mix of two mindsets, and that their mindset can change depending on the context or point in life.
Here are 5 ways in which you can strengthen your growth mindset:
1. Give yourself opportunities to develop Growth Mindset
First things first – without recognizing your way of thinking may need some tweaking, you’re unlikely to achieve anything. But don’t just stop there. Give yourself a chance to grow your Growth Mindset.
- Learn to spot when your thinking is slipping into Fixed Mindset, e.g.
– ‘I love the idea of joining this project, but I don’t have all the skills they need and I’m probably too old to learn’
- Recognize your mindset is your choice, so choose right.
– ‘But this is just one way looking at it. On the other hand, they really appreciate my expertise and experience so far and believe I can do it’.
- Talk back to your Fixed Mindset voice, using Growth mindset logic to argue, e.g.
– ‘Actually, many people managed to learn new things, even at an older age. I’m not dumb, I could try.’
- Take Growth Mindset action.
– ‘How about I start learning about that digital marketing and see how I go?’
The approach described above is often enough to get you back on track with Growth Mindset. However, if your beliefs are more global, more entrenched, you may have a tougher nut to crack.
Mindset is a belief system, which includes so-called core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. These beliefs come from our innate dispositions, childhood experience and/or cultural/societal influence and are often entrenched.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT for short) may have some tools to help you shift those negative beliefs. CBT is typically used in clinical settings by qualified therapists, but also widely applied in multiple self-help techniques aimed at shifting negative core beliefs.
But because these beliefs are often well entrenched, this approach comes with a warning. Time and patience are needed to modify core beliefs, and the outcome may not necessarily be a total makeover, but a reduction in intensity.
Here are a few CBT strategies that challenge negative core beliefs and hence Fixed Mindset thinking ( )
**Disclaimer. The strategies listed below are for your informational purposes only and not intended to be used instead of professional advice. You need to exercise your own judgment before you decide to use any of these. Always seek help from an appropriately qualified professional if needed. **
2. Be a scientist – examine the evidence
Believe you can’t learn new skills or change the way you work? Look at the evidence that supports your negative beliefs and then do the same for the Growth Mindset way of thinking.
This may not necessarily lead to a modification of those beliefs, but is an important start. You can use belief monitoring or recording worksheets to keep track of your thinking.
3. Do a cost-benefit analysis
Look at the costs and benefits of your current way of perceiving yourself and the world around you. Is it worth shifting to Growth Mindset, or would you be better off staying in the Fixed Mindset zone?
Simply draw a 2×2 table and look at the advantages and disadvantages of both: Growth and Fixed Mindsets. With this simple exercise, you can clearly see how the old way of thinking is holding you back, how many great opportunities you let go of because you didn’t believe in your capabilities, how much more you could have achieved with Growth Mindset. It will also show you, what you need to overcome in order to shift your mindset.
4. Act as-if (A.K.A. Fake it ’til you make it)
This is another way of experimenting with your new belief(s). Even if you don’t fully buy into the new mindset, try acting as if you were. Don’t believe you can learn a new language?
Enroll in the language classes and participate, like everyone else. Watch how your confidence and your perception of your capabilities change. Yes, fake it till you make it.
Research shows that if you act as if you were competent and confident in an area, will eventually lead to improved competence and confidence ). This strategy also gives you plenty of opportunities to practice along the way.
5. Ask others for help
This approach can work well after you’ve experimented a little with the growth mindset way of thinking. It may be harder to implement, but it’s worth it.
Make sure you choose people who know you well and care about you enough to do it properly. Ask your nearest and dearest to comment on how your functioning and interactions with people have changed recently. An even better approach is to explore if they’ve noticed how this has further affected you, your level of happiness, fulfillment or whatever it is you’re pursuing.
“Beliefs matter”, writes Dweck. They matter to lasting success in business, work, and life.
Check your mindset regularly. Keep an eye on those thoughts that undermine your efforts and your journey, doubt about your abilities, or just put your down.
Don’t let yourself slip into Fixed Mindset. Don’t get tricked into traveling only the well-known roads. Keep learning and expanding your horizons, look for new challenges, ways of stretching yourself. And you will never run out of runway.
If you want to be successful, Growth Mindset is the only mindset worth bothering about. Everything else is learnable.