How You can Become Better
A couple months ago I wrote about being a failure. We took a sneak peek into Dr. Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The idea was that there are two types of people. Those that see failure as a permanent reflection of their abilities, and those that see it as a growing opportunity. The sad reality is that a majority of people are in the fixed mindset category.
That doesn’t have to be the case. The first step to moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is understanding the two, and then carefully training yourself to make a conscious effort into the growth mindset. Here’s how you can get started.
Moving from Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset
Your first step is to read Dr. Dweck’s book. It’s packed with knowledge and far more than I can extrapolate in a simple blog post. It’s not your typical dry psychology book either, it moves along quickly, it’s entertaining, and it’s not that hard to read.
In the meantime, examine your own life, and determine how you react to certain situations.
How You View Competition
From a business standpoint, you will always have competition. As our society and economy moves more toward a global perspective, that competition only gets tougher and tougher. When you encounter your competitors, do you cower? Do you get anxious? Do you see them as trying to, “steal your piece of pie?” Are they to be taken out and destroyed so that you can prosper? When they get business that you wanted, are you mad and think life is unfair? If so, you’re suffering from a fixed mindset.
Instead of seeing competition as bad, change your thinking. Instead of cowering, make friends. Instead of being anxious, learn from what they do. Instead of seeing resources as limited, realize that when they get a slice of pie, it doesn’t take away from the entire pie. Encourage them and help them to grow. When they get business, examine what they did and then change your approach so in the future you will do better. In the growth mindset, competition isn’t just good; it’s the only way to prosper.
How You View Shutdowns
When you were single, or if you’re single, how many times did you attempt a relationship and fail? When you did, what thoughts went through your head? Did you feel unworthy? Did you try to tell yourself, “I’m just not good looking?” Did you feel that you were rejected and your worth diminished? Did your self esteem take a hit? If so, you went through perfectly normal reactions; rejection hurts. But where you go from there could be the difference between being stuck in the fixed mindset, or progressing to the growth mindset.
Instead, take a look at the relationship attempt. Too many men approach a girl for a date, get turned down, and then try the exact same approach the next time. The result is often the same. Instead of feeling unworthy, ask yourself what could make you more appealing to the opposite sex. Instead of feeling ugly, determine if you need to work harder on your hygiene or fitness. Instead of feeling diminished, understand that there are things going on in the other person’s life that you don’t know. Instead of lowering your self esteem, remind yourself of everything that you have to offer. Learning from setbacks is what helps us move to a growth mindset.
How You View Skills and Intelligence
One of the most misleading aspects of educational society today is that some kids are smart, some are not. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are some biological differences in the way that we process information, everyone has the ability to learn and develop new skills. If you try something new, or try to learn something new, and fail, how do you react? Do you give up easily? Do you succumb to the notion that “some people just aren’t smart?” Do you say that you’re just not talented? Do you give up and move on to something else? If you feel that you weren’t born with the innate ability to do something, then you are suffering from the fixed mindset.
Instead, see each attempt as a new stab at learning. Our brains have ways of forming new connections, something science doesn’t fully understand. Instead of giving up, find the areas of weakness and practice them. Instead of saying that you’re not smart, identify what you don’t know and learn it. Instead of saying that you have no talent, practice until you are talented. Instead of giving up, master it. There is no such thing as innate ability; there is only the growth mindset that to become a top performer you have to work at it.
Develop Your Skills and Abilities
When I was in grade school, middle school, and even into high school, I was a mediocre writer. I could pay attention to grammar, but putting thoughts onto paper in a well developed manner wasn’t my strength. As I progressed in school I (unintentionally) took the hard writing classes. I still felt that I wasn’t a very good writer since I could never get better than a “B” on my papers. I stuck to it, practiced, and grew.
When I got to college, where I “knew” that I would be even further behind because the academics were going to be much harder, I suddenly was able to write “A” papers. Those “hard” classes in high school were shaping and forming me into a better writer without me even realizing it. Through college I wrote a lot, by my calculations the second semester of my senior year I wrote 72 papers (between 3 and 15 pages of length).
Now as a writer in Billings, MT, I continue to hone my skills. I practice every day knowing that the more I write, the better I will become. There aren’t people that are born talented writers; there are just those that have put in the time to become better.