If you are already familiar with the concept of the growth mindset, use the table of content to skip ahead to the relevant chapter.
If you want to be successful in whatever area in your life, a growth mindset is extremely helpful.
It not only sets you up for rewards and reaching your goals, but it also makes sure that even if you don’t get what you desire, you don’t perceive it as a failure.
In fact, you look bad on all the positive things you encountered on your journey.
So instead of feeling bad that you couldn’t quite pass that final exam, barely couldn’t get rid of that stubborn belly fat in time for summer, or weren’t able to maintain your relationship with your ex, you look back and see the progress these challenges offered you.
You look back on the skills you have acquired and the knowledge you have gained about yourself.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
As I already teased at the way of thinking a growth mindset brings with it, let’s further illustrate this idea.
Using the example of primary school, there are two “types” of mindsets when it comes to kids trying to learn basic math, language, and more.
The first type of mindset is called a “fixed mindset“.
A fixed mindset distinguishes itself from the growth mindset pretty heavily.
You could even go as far and think of these two types of mindsets as opposites.
The fixed mindset is characterized by very lopsided thinking patterns.
Either you win, or you lose.
Either you succeed or fail.
Either you feel incredible, or shitty.
To stay with the example of kids in primary school, not passing a math test would be considered a failure while passing it would be a full-blown win.
Now some of you might feel like this sort of thinking is an accurate picture of the school system and society as a whole, but more of that later.
Contrary to this very fixed and unflexible approach, the growth mindset offers an appealing alternative.
As I said in the introduction when adopting a growth mindset the end results start to matter less. They lose part of their value.
At first glance, this might not seem like a very sustainable approach.
If a kid is not motivated by the possibilities of success, and all the feelings of relief and accomplishment that come with it, how will it ever achieve anything?
Well, to answer that, we have to detach ourselves of the idea of winning and losing and start to think more in terms of real-life application.
It is true, that once you pass the test it might give you better grades, which can eventually lead to better opportunities and qualifications.
But does it actually, and full-heartedly qualify you in the truest sense of the word?
Maybe someone passed it because he had a lucky day, someone might have cheated his way to his diploma.
Perhaps the only reason Kid A has better grades than Kid B is that he has more forgiving teachers who are easy to give out exceptional grades for mediocre work.
Also, I bet everyone knows somebody who just passed a final exam because he only studied a fraction of the material that was relevant, which just happened to miraculously be the exact topic the exam dealt with.
Looking back at my high school days, there were countless occasions of these above-mentioned examples.
So what are the consequences of randomness and unfairness deciding over who gets a passing grade and who doesn’t?
First of all, you have many people that look more qualified than they are.
On paper, they have all this knowledge needed to pass the exams and get the diploma. In reality, though, they might only be able to apply very little of that knowledge and the techniques they supposedly have.
On the other hand, you find qualified and motivated people, who just happened to have bad luck and therefore are less attractive on paper.
Now, if you would do a real-life comparison of the skillsets of both people, the passing grade or degree they have consequently not always depicts who is more qualified for the job.
And while it is extremely difficult to have a system that negates randomness and unfairness, you can start and try to integrate more fairness towards yourself for your own sake.
By adopting a growth mindset, you stop to make your well-being depending on the end result, but rather on the knowledge and skills you have acquired.
To come back to the example of primary school once more, a kid with a growth mindset would not look at an exam as a do or die situation.
In fact, no matter the outcome, it would feel good about learning how to apply multiplication. Because, after all, that’s what these tests are designed for. To make sure that you learn something.
In this situation, the kid can still feel happy about passing the test, because it does show that he properly learned the skills to master, and is ready to apply them.
If the kid failed, however, it would look at it as a challenge to acquire the necessary knowledge. Additionally, instead of viewing the process as done, finishing with a disappointing result, it would think of the process still ongoing, still needing a little bit extra time to “get there”.
In summary, the growth mindset is concerned with focusing on acquiring skills and knowledge. It is focused on improving your real-life skillset, instead of looking at on-paper results that try to tell you how much you are worth.
To give another view on the topic, and to provide another explanation, watch this TedTalk about the topic at hand.
The benefits of a growth mindset
So why the hassle? Isn’t it just easier to focus on results that will help you with finding a job and make you look good and attractive?
Why accept failure when all you want is winning?
In order to reap the rewards of a growth mindset, you first have to alter your perception of winning and losing.
For someone with a growth mindset, winning is gaining new skills, knowledge, and challenging their views and opinions constantly.
If you are stuck in the same thought patterns and prejudices, not willing to change your opinion on anything, then winning and losing will stay very black-and-white for you.
Once you have successfully done that, you are ready for your journey of self-improvement and sustainable success.
A major thing, many people forget to factor in is, that adopting a growth mindset will most likely improve your overall results.
Because you stop studying, preparing, and working to achieve the goal of getting a pass. Instead, you study to actually get familiar with the topics and content that the exam deals with.
This will make you pay closer attention to little details, and set you up to understand the whole topic thoroughly.
Consequently, your chances of passing the test are very high because your motivation to acquire the necessary knowledge made you comprehensively tackle the task at hand.
If you do it because you want to educate yourself, and you want to be a knowledgable person, you will make sure to know the ins and outs of whatever you are dealing with.
On top of that, after graduating, you will be even more valuable in real-life than you look on paper. A great foundation for a prosperous career.
Another very good example to illustrate the power of a growth mindset is learning a language.
Learning a completely foreign language requires a great deal of tenacity and perseverance. It is very time-consuming and at the same time unforgiving.
It takes tremendous afford to even start thinking about having a conversation in that language.
Therefore, while most people have a foreign language in school, only a slim percentage are confident in their respective skills.
If you only ever study whatever is necessary to pass the exams and get along just fine, you may do some homework here and there, perhaps copying it from a classmate, and you properly cram for your test starting approximately 1 week in advance.
By doing this, you will get your certificates and, on paper, are able to speak the language to a satisfying degree.
One of the effects of this style of learning, doing it because you have to, while only contributing time to it very sporadically, is that you will forget most of the things you learned.
This is due to only utilizing the short-term memory to get those results.
With a growth mindset, as you might be able to guess by now, you would be focussed on actually learning the language long term.
Contributing time to it regularly and doing it for your own benefits.
Everyone knows how beneficial and attractive it is to speak multiple languages. Both, in relationships and in business.
Moreover, if you can actually talk in that language, you don’t have to fear getting tested on your language skills in your job interview.
The bottom line is, therefore, that a growth mindset does not only protect you from being devastated by failures, it also is the best way to become a truly knowledgeable and skillful person.
How to develop a growth mindset
At this point, I hope that you are burning to adapt to a growth mindset.
And some of you might already have one. To some, it’s a natural thing. They had it from a child’s age.
For others, like me, that doesn’t mean that we are unable to get there.
Looking back several years, I was someone with a fixed-mindset, too.
Always looking at results. always weighing wins against losses.
Today though, I have changed. One way to prove this is this exact blog.
There is always the possibility of this project failing and the time invested in it not bringing up any results.
Anyhow, if that is the case, I will not view this as a huge time sink that I regret. I look back at all the skills I have developed and learned and what they will bring me in the future.
This way, I ensure that whatever this project turns out to be, it will be a success for me, personally.
But how did I get there?
To be honest, it is not one of the easiest things to do, but once you do it, it gets addicting and exciting.
You simply let go.
You let go of trying to prove everyone wrong all the time
You let go of choosing the easy path instead of properly learning.
You emphasize the process, not the result.
You make space to redefine your outlook on life.
You open yourself up to change your opinions.
You admit your imperfections and try to work on them.
You try to see things from different perspectives and cultivate critical thinking.
And most importantly, you learn. A lot.
Don’t be satisfied with having half a skill, half of the knowledge, to study barely enough to pass.
As you can see, a growth mindset brings many advantages with it.
- It gives you a more forgiving, positive, outlook on life
- It makes you skillful and knowledgeable
- It will improve your results
- It will make you even better than your results suggest
- It’s exciting and thrilling because there are so many things worth knowing and opening up to
I hope you enjoyed the read and thank you!