Mindset is an interesting phenomenon. There are countless articles and bits of research that discuss the relationship between how we view ourselves, the opportunities around us, our potential and the quality of our thoughts, psychology, and ultimately our lives as a whole.
A Professor of Psychology at Stanford, Carol Dweck, in her book “Mindset”, said,
“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you commit to and accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life?”
The power lies in the mindset you choose: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
Regarding the fixed mindset Dweck says,
“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics…I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”
Regarding the growth mindset she says,
“There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
Which mindset will you choose to have?
If you have a growth mindset, you know that with some effort you can change the way you think about things, and ultimately change your life.
The question really boils down to whether you think you can or not. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
Think about your children. Which mindset do you want them to have? Of course you want them to have a growth mindset. Why wouldn’t you want that for yourself?
One of the easiest ways to instill a growth mindset into your children is to focus your praise on the work and effort they put in instead of their accomplishments. Praising the work and effort emphasizes what’s really important to the child.
Praising work and effort, tells them that’s the right thing to do.
It tells them to always keep working, always keep putting in the effort, always keep learning.
Like most parents, I question if I ever get it right with my kids. My wife, Taryn, and I got confirmation when our daughter recently came to us with some good news. Last year, she tried out for tennis, and unfortunately, didn’t make the team. Had she had a fixed mindset, she would have quit after that rejection. However, she tried out for volleyball this year, and she made the team. She commented to us, “I’m not the best on the team, but I’ll get better.” (Insert proud father smile here.) I think she has the right mindset.
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, in talking about his rough upbringing said, “I’ve been really lucky. And I really genuinely believe, that if you tell people that they have what it takes to succeed, they’ll prove you right.”
He believes this because that’s what he was told. Do you see the mindset in that quote? If people’s mindset is “I have what it takes if I put in a little effort”, he believes they will succeed.
Why not do the same for yourself? Wake up tomorrow morning and tell yourself, “I have what it takes to succeed. Today I’m going to work on a better me.”
Then do it again the next day. And the next.