You’ve probably heard that success the product of talent, knowledge, intelligence, perseverance, or innovation. You may have even heard that the secret to success is a positive attitude. But what does that mean?
Simply believing that you’re destined for success may not be enough to make you successful, but what can help, according to researchers at Stanford University, is having a growth mindset. When you have a growth mindset, you believe that you’re capable of improving yourself and your surroundings with enough effort. You tend to interpret failures and setbacks as learning experiences, rather than indictments. And if you don’t think that sounds like you, don’t worry — there are steps you can take to change your mindset and empower yourself for success.
What’s Your Mindset?
Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, has devoted her career to studying the link between attitude and performance. Her latest research suggests that attitude, even more than IQ or other factors, could be the secret to a person’s success.
According to Dweck, most people have either a fixed or a growth mindset. If you’re a member of the first group, you believe yourself to be incapable of change. You believe that you are, right now, who you’re always going to be. That’s not necessarily a big deal, but it can present an extra hurdle when you’re faced with a challenge or asked to adapt to new circumstances, because instead of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, you’ll simply become overwhelmed and shut down, because you’ll be operating under the assumption that if you can’t do something already, you’ll never be able to do it. Why try to grow or change to meet a new challenge when you don’t even believe that growth is possible?
However, if you have a growth mindset, you believe that individual growth and change are possible. When you face new circumstances or a new challenge, you embrace them, treating them as chances to learn and grow. If you fail in an endeavor, you don’t give up; you consider yourself a problem solver, so you look for the lessons in your mistakes and failures, instead. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dweck has found that people with a growth mindset are more likely to succeed in their endeavors than people with a fixed mindset, even if they’re not as smart, talented, or knowledgeable as their fixed-mindset counterparts.
Don’t Let Failure Get the Better of You
So, let’s say you have big dreams, but feel stifled by a sense of helplessness or a lack of confidence in your own ability to adapt and change. It’s possible you have a fixed mindset; it’s also possible you’re experiencing a normal moment of helplessness that we all sometimes face. The key is not how you feel when you experience a setback or meet with a challenge, but in how you behave afterward.
No matter how discouraged you might feel, don’t let failure hold you back. Every successful person experiences failure and rejection, often many times before they find success. When you fail, try again. When you make a mistake, use it as a learning opportunity. It can be hard to keep trying and failing again and again, but remember — often the only difference between a failure and a success is the willingness to get back up in the morning and go back to work.
One important reason why those with growth mindsets are more likely to succeed is that they don’t let fear cripple them into inaction. Everyone experiences anxiety, fear, and uncertainty on the path to success, but the key is to take action instead of dwelling on those feelings. When you’re feeling paralyzed, break out of that paralysis by taking actionable steps toward your goals — research no GMAT online MBA programs, work on your business plan, or brainstorm solutions to a problem you may be facing. Taking action will turn your worry into positive energy.
If you really want to succeed, it’s vitally important to keep giving it all you’ve got, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Push yourself every day; if you’re not improving, you’re stagnating, or worse. At the very least, you can’t move toward your goals if you’re standing still.
Success is more than just a matter of being smart and talented. You need the right mindset to succeed. Fortunately, your mindset is malleable — you can change it to suit your needs, now and in the future.