“The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity” ~Joshua Waitzkin (Child Chess Master)

In a society that prides itself on its competitive edge, it can be the easy choice to just stick with what you know. I can remember doing this as a child, only wanting to do things that I knew I was good at. Now as I get older, I really appreciate how limiting that thinking is. Instead of saying things like, “I’m not a math person or I’m horrible with directions”. I can shift into the growth mindset and embrace the power of yet. Now I say, “I haven’t mastered math…yet”. And in that subtle shift opens a whole world of possibilities.

In these two fantastic TEDTalks by Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve and  The Power of Belief Mindset and Success by Eduardo Briceno, they explore the power of yet and the growth mindset. The growth mindset is coming from a place knowing that qualities can be developed. Instead of looking at failure has a negative, it is seen as a necessary part of human growth and development.  This is in stark contrast to the fixed mindset that believes our skills and talents are static. In this view, success is outcome focused.

Why is failure important?

While this may sound a little harsh, failure teaches us that we are not special. Of course, we are all precious snowflakes, but in failure, we can see the effect of our ego on our decisions. In her research, Carol Dweck found that children who were only praised for their successes, would lose interest or pretend they were incapable, when they were not good at something quickly. But when the children were praised for their learning and development or when the feedback was process related, the children were more likely to keep trying. Going back to my childhood, I can remember being resistant to trying new things because that seemed too risky. What if I wasn’t good enough? Hmmmm….

How do you define success?

An important part of embracing the growth mindset is to challenge your definition of success. Do you value  in process, learning, development or do you value outcome and meeting expectations? So often our ideas about success is influenced by others people’s valuation of our worth. Or at least our perception of that valuation. As much as we try to manage or manipulate another person’s perception of ourselves, we really have no control over it. Their perception is in alignment with their story; with their experiences. This is becoming increasingly evident with our use of social media platforms. We use them to show the highlight reel of our lives. Rarely are we posting our epic failures, or our learning and development process.

So I ask you to look at a challenge you are facing right now. What is the mindset underneath it? Is your focus only on the outcome or can you see the value in the more qualitative aspects of the endevor? We have the ability to learn and develop, our capabilities are not fixed. See if you can change your language around the conversation from, “I can’t do this,” to “I haven’t figured it out….yet.”

3 Things to Change Mindset

– Recognized that the growth mindset is beneficial and supported by science

– Learn & teach others on how to develop our abilities

– Listen for your fixed mindset voice


(c) Can Stock Photo