Do you sometimes feel like you’re not good enough? Have you ever lost motivation because you didn’t succeed? Of course, we all have.
Then how is it that some people succeed? Perhaps they have better genetics. Or maybe they were born with some innate ability that makes it easier for them.
In reality, the biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is their mindset. Everybody fails, but the key is the way you react to failure.
The growth mindset is an idea that the way you react to setbacks has a significant effect on your future success. And by fostering a growth mindset, you can succeed in school, sports, business, or fitness… practically anything you set your mind to.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
A fixed mindset is when you believe your skills and success are predetermined or cast in stone. Whereas a growth mindset is when you believe you can cultivate your skills to become successful.
For example, imagine playing the game of poker for the first time. After a few hands you’ve had only bad cards and you still don’t fully understand the rules. How would you respond in this situation?
Would you react like someone with a fixed mindset and think, “Poker is too hard… I’m not good at it so I might as well quit.” The fixed mindset person believes their bad luck is proof that they’re not good enough to win. And they might feel judged based on their lack of ability at the start.
In addition, if something doesn’t come easy right away, then it’s not meant to be. And it’s hard for them to see that they can learn how to win. For someone with a fixed mindset, success means not failing.
Or would you react like someone with a growth mindset and think, “Poker is challenging… I can’t wait to play more and get better!” The growth mindset person knows their bad luck isn’t tied to their skill or chances of winning. And they believe, with practice, they can learn how to win. For them, success means learning.
If you found yourself relating to the fixed mindset person, don’t feel bad. Admittedly that’s pretty much me every time I try to play poker. Indeed none of us has a growth mindset in every situation.
But it’s important to realize that your mindset is flexible. Therefore, you can change your mindset and change your results.
How the Growth Mindset Changes Your Results
From a young age, we’re led to believe that some abilities you either have or you don’t. We get judged based on metrics and scores which measure a fixed point in time. Then those judgments could determine our success in life.
However, your abilities are not fixed. And you don’t have to let past judgments define where you go in the future. When you believe you can improve, you are more likely to succeed.
It turns out that you can increase your intelligence1 just like you can improve your physical abilities. In one study, researchers held mindset workshops in a school with declining grades. A group of 7th-graders was taught that their brain is like a muscle. And that they can make it grow through training and learning new things.
As a result of their mindset training, this group of students improved their math grades. At the same time, the control students’ grades continued to decline2.
Adapted from Blackwell, et al., 2007
Perhaps nowhere is the growth mindset more tangible than in sports. So often an athlete’s success is attributed to their physical gifts. Clearly, something that sets them apart from the average person. However, this is the fixed mindset on display.
After all, if fixed traits were all it took to be successful in sports, then there would be no need to practice. And those less physically gifted would never succeed. But time and again, we see examples of the underdog coming out on top.
In fact, some of the world’s greatest athletes didn’t start out with the best natural talent. Such as NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was barely recruited out of high school. After almost giving up football, he went to play for a junior college. Then, when he was eventually drafted by the Green Bay Packers, he sat on the bench for 3 years.
Yet, Rodgers maintained a growth mindset. He learned from his coaches and veteran mentors. Since becoming the starting quarterback in 2008, he has the NFL’s all-time highest passer rating and the best touchdown to interception ratio in NFL history.
It goes to show, the most successful athletes are not always the ones with the most talent from the start. More often they overcame setbacks and adversity which taught them that talent alone is not enough. In order to succeed, you have to be willing to work hard regardless of your skill level. And that requires a growth mindset.
90% of startups fail, according to Forbes3. And of those that survive, few make a profit in their first year.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in starting my own business. So I know that if someone has a fixed mindset, they’ll give up long before they make it. As with the poker game, they’ll think, “I gave it my best shot and I didn’t succeed… so I should cut my losses and quit.”
Instead, it’s imperative to have a growth mindset in a competitive business world. To see yourself and your business as something flexible that can change and grow.
With this in mind, you make continuous improvements – even though most of them will fail. Because you learn from each failure and correct course until all those failures amount to success.
Even if you don’t own a business, a fixed mindset will hold you back. The fear of failure or being judged as not qualified can prevent you from pursuing career growth.
With a growth mindset, however, you repeatedly take on new challenges. Because you know that trying and failing doesn’t make you less qualified… if anything, it makes your resume more impressive.
In the fitness world, you hear a lot of talk about genetics. Often people with a fixed mindset blame their genes when they fail to lose weight or gain muscle. Moreover, they believe that their physical fitness is more or less predetermined.
However, your genetics are more like the make and model of a car. You may start off with an unsexy base model sedan. But with some minor upgrades and a little tune-up, you can transform from average into awe-inspiring. The same is true of your body with proper diet and exercise.
On the other hand, you could start out with a souped-up sports car. But if you put diesel fuel in the gas tank and don’t change the oil, you won’t get very far.
What I’m getting at, is that being fit isn’t all about having good genetics. Instead, it requires consistent effort and a growth mindset. The belief that success is about improving on your personal best. And not judging yourself based on someone else’s starting point.
The examples of how a growth mindset changes your results could go on and on. But let’s assume you’re ready to change your mindset. How exactly do you go about doing that?
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
Training your brain to have a growth mindset is no different than training your muscles in the gym. With consistent activity, you can rewire your brain to think positve4.
To do this, start your morning by taking 10 or 15 minutes to do something to reframe your mind and set yourself up for success. Here are 5 activities you can do to start your day off right.
1. Listen to a 15-minute motivational podcast
2. Journal about the positive changes you want to make
3. Read one chapter of a self-improvement book
4. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for
5. Exercise for 10 minutes5
Better yet, combine two or more of these activities to supercharge your morning routine. For example, listen to a motivational podcast or a self-improvement audiobook while you do your morning cardio.