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Researchers have identified a key ingredient that often distinguishes those who succeed in the long run, versus those who stop short. It’s called a growth mindset.
A growth mindset isn’t the only factor that determines success. Still, it turns out that the most successful entrepreneurs–Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos–exemplify and understand the traits of a growth mindset. While their critics have plenty to say about leadership lapses and ethics, we can all learn from them.
Growth Mindset Versus Fixed Mindset
Everyone experiences setbacks in life. Your business fails. Your keynote doesn’t go well. You don’t hit your goals at work. You experience a breakup. You get injured. The list is endless.
A growth mindset refers to the attitude we have toward these setbacks, and more importantly, ourselves when they occur. It’s helpful to first distinguish a growth mindset from a fixed mindset.
In a fixed mindset, one interprets failures as personal and terminal. They see failure as evidence there is something wrong with them and decide the goal is no longer worthy, or viable, to pursue. Failure means “there is something wrong with me” and “I should quit” because “I’m flawed and can’t/shouldn’t do this” or “the goal is just not realistic.”
People with a fixed mindset abandon or pause their pursuits when met with challenges.
In contrast, those with a growth mindset see challenges as opportunities. These individuals view setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. In a growth mindset, failure does not mean that “I” am a failure; failure is viewed as an opportunity to become even stronger, smarter, and more skilled.
People with a growth mindset evaluate and adapt their approach while continuing to pursue their goals. These people enjoy the process of learning and growth, in itself.
The good news is that a growth mindset is a trait you can learn. Here are a few practical ways to do so.
1. Focus on where you want to go, versus don’t want to go.
It is easy to keep our focus on avoiding mistakes, failures, or whatever we don’t want to happen to us. This can be useful at times. But it might also be helpful to balance our motivations so that we’re not only repelled by fear and avoidance but also pulled joyfully toward the things we want.
Get clear about your desires–what do you want? What would make you happy in your career or life? Pursue those things endlessly while seeing challenges not as roadblocks, or referendums on who you are, but experiences that will teach you how to keep pursuing your desires and goals with even more knowledge and skill.
2. Put yourself in situations to fail.
You can practice having a growth mindset in low-stakes situations so that you can strengthen your muscle memory for high-stakes situations.
Maybe you’re asked to give a presentation at work. If this is something you’re already comfortable doing, use this as an opportunity to permit yourself to fail. Practice seeing whatever mistakes, big or small, as opportunities to improve for that upcoming keynote. When that keynote happens, that’s an opportunity to improve for the next one, and so on.
Perhaps giving a presentation at work scares the heck out of you. In this case, practice in front of your family or friends, invoking a growth mindset around whatever outcomes you notice.
3. Develop the skill of self-compassion.
The practice of self-compassion is one of the most powerful and reliable ways to support a growth mindset. Self-compassion helps us step back from our experience and take it less personally. By doing so, we’re less caught in the cycle of shame and inadequacy and, contrary to instincts, better equipped to motivate ourselves toward success.
Where to look for business opportunities
When it comes to uncovering business opportunities many times they come in the form of complaints from customers. Complaints are usually a good thing when you view them as possible opportunities. If you want to grow your team’s service culture encourage them to share customer complaints then brainstorm solutions. Help you team see the value in customer complaints. You would much rather they complain to you than post on social media without communicating with you first. Give us a call, we’d love to become a partner in growing your service culture.
BY MATTHEW GOODMAN AND CARL PHILLIPS