Growth Mindset: Attitude for Success

Your attitude is a better predictor of success than your IQ

– Carol Dweck, Stanford Psychologist

The world is full of derelict geniuses, because intellect is no assurance of success. This is because success is all about how you manage obstacles and deal with failure. While intellect inspires a strong cognitive capacity, deep thought, and innovation, without the right attitude to deal with the obstacles faced in the execution of good ideas, not much will come of a brilliant mind. Success truly is about perseverance as much as it is about product concept, as an ability to maintain confidence in yourself or your product in the face of rejection is essential to moving forward.

Carol Dweck, Stanford Psychologist, notes that people can be broadly categorized into two mindsets:

  1. Fixed mindset individuals believe that their abilities are set and unchangeable. This perspective is problematic when one is faced with obstacles, as by thinking that you have a limited, predetermined skill set/traits you are likely to feel hopeless in the face of anything that requires more of you.
  1. Growth mindset individuals on the other hand believe that everything can be improved upon with practice. People with this mindset treat obstacles as opportunities and are confident that they can succeed at tasks outside of their skill set if they put their mind to it. As a result, this psychological adaptability allows people with a growth mindset to outperform those with a fixed mindset, even if they have a lower IQ.

While the fixed mindset views failure as hitting a dead end, the growth mindset sees failure as an opportunity to improve. Dweck describes the growth mindsets response to rejection as follows “failure is information – we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘this didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.'”

The good news is that if you find yourself falling under the fixed mindset category you can learn to become more growth mindset orientated through the following:

You are the source of your power

We all hit low moments where we feel overwhelmed and powerless. The trick is to not get stuck here. While rejection and failure are an inevitable part of being human, we are fully in control of how we react to these emotions or rather the events that cause them. Either we can let negative situations drain us, or we can choose to see them as a learning curve from which we are able to move on with an improved strategy.

If a young Oprah Winfrey was once fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being ‘too emotionally invested in her stories’, and later became one of the world’s most successful talk show hosts – doesn’t that tell you something. This is an important lesson, what one person perceives to be a weakness of yours, another may perceive to be your greatest strength – its all about context. So if you’re not flourishing at present there is nothing wrong with you, there is something wrong with your environment. Your power thus lies in being conscious of your capacity to grow.

Passion is purpose

There will always be someone smarter, more innovative, more talented than yourself – but passion is what separates the good from the great. Absolutely loving what you do exudes an energy that people are drawn to, it inspires those around you as passion tells a story of how you are in your line of work for a purpose as much as a profit and this distinction is what inspires true excellence.

Put one foot forward each day

It is natural to put things off to a later date due to the anxieties of putting oneself out there, and thereby making yourself or your product vulnerable to critique. However the only way to create success is to start somewhere. People with a growth mindset realize that if you wait until you’re ready to start a venture you’ll never get going – so just take a deep breath and go for it, today.

Starting something new can feel like you’re out of your depths. But if you just put one foot forward each day, soon enough you’ll be making strides. You need to get up, get dressed, and show up even on your worst days, always go that extra mile, because if you aren’t improving yourself each and every day, then you’re going to plateau– and who wants to be average.

For more info. on developing a growth mindset see Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success