Every single person has two choices to make when faced with a major setback.
You can withdraw, vow to never take the risk again and let defeat put a permanent cap on your potential…or you can take on a growth mindset.
Carol Dweck explains in Mindset, her latest book on achievement psychology,
“…Those with the growth mindset do not label themselves and throw up their hands. Even though they feel distressed, they’re ready to take risks, confront the challenges and keep working at them…Failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define them. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with and learned from.”
Did you get that?
- Ready to take the risk again.
- Not afraid to confront the challenges.
- Dedicated to keep working at it.
You see, what makes a defining moment is not what happens to us, but how we rise after what’s happened to us.
We’re either going to be the type of people who label ourselves permanently incompetent when things breakdown or embrace the challenge to take on a growth mindset.
Where does the growth mindset apply?
It applies to moving on from the failed relationship that you put so much hope into.
It applies to the idea that you stepped out on and didn’t see the return you expected.
It applies to the paper you got back that you completely bombed.
It applies to that mistake you made (or keep making) on the job.
It applies to all the criticism that’s made you second guess if you’ll ever get anywhere.
It applies all day, every day as we constantly come face to face with where we fall short.
We’re either going to rebound or retract when it looks like we just aren’t good enough.
If you find yourself struggling with making the switch to take on a growth mindset, here are a few places to start:
You can’t let these moments define you.
It’s easy to live with a fixed mindset- a mindset that says, you either have it or you don’t, you either can or you can’t, you either are or you aren’t. This is all-or-nothing thinking. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. There is such a thing as overcoming and overcoming is a process. That process often looks like learning from each setback along the way.
In order to take on a mindset of growth, you cannot cast final judgment on your potential in the face of defeat. If your venture is worth it, you have to believe in working at it. More importantly, you should know that mastery at anything comes from practice, not inherent perfection. You’d think that’s common sense but, on the contrary, our society is obsessed with the end result. Social media would convince us that everyone has “arrived”, as we stream our best moments. But even among the most admirable, nitty gritty work is being done in the unseen.
You always have growth potential. Even when it feels harder to achieve than those around you, it’s not impossible. It just might take a little more effort.
Decide to become the student of your life.
Take a moment to picture yourself as an onlooker of your life. Mentally get out of first person and switch into third person. Become the subject of your research. Many times this is where I make the most use of my journal.
To switch to the growth mindset you are going to have to be willing to search yourself honestly and analyze the situation honestly. The worst thing you could do in these moments are shut down on yourself by either: 1. Denying your role in the failed circumstance or 2. Withdrawing into defeat.
In fact, vulnerability is where we become the best learners of ourselves. In our most raw state, we can discover the root of our flaws. We can take these flaws and make an honest determination of how to be better.
You’re allowed to break down, just don’t unpack and live there. Make it an opportunity to find out what’s inside and use those pieces to rebuild. You can face your shortcomings without allowing them to define you when you understand it’s a part of the growing process.
Let go of approval and commit to growth instead.
It’s a trap to be fueled by praise or defeated by criticism. Neither define you. We’re constantly becoming, changing, growing- so nobody’s opinion can embody who you are.
When you get caught up trying to prove yourself, you make others the judge of your value. And if you begin to look at yourself through the eyes of their approval or disapproval, you’ll never actually find out who you are or what you’re capable of. You’ll just allow others to define your limits.
Don’t commit to approval, commit to growth. The growth that takes place when no one is watching. When you commit to growth, you commit to longevity. It’s a process that eventually outgrows the opinions of men. There’s a stark contrast between making real self-improvement and wanting to be noticed.
Have grace for your journey.
If we were to put failure and growth on a scale, grace would be the balance.
Grace gives us the mercy and allowance to try again, all anew.
Grace gives us the humility to realize we are a work in progress.
Without grace, people turn to two extremes.
They either submit to permanent defeat because their aim was perfection.
They put all confidence in themselves and keep going but are too prideful to ever learn.
People who want to grow aren’t fueled on praise or defeated by imperfection. They’re motivated by improvement and have grace for where they are.
Make room for grace in your journey.
Are you ready to take on a growth mindset? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s chat!