You’ve probably heard it too. Experts talk about it, preachers preach it and people know it: if you want to be successful, you need to change your mindset. Everybody knows that your mindset is crucial for succeeding in life and finding happiness.
But in most conversations about mindset, the main message doesn’t go beyond the commonplace platitudes that simply suggest you must stop thinking negative thoughts and think positive ones instead. Easier said than done, right?
The Problem with Mindset
First, nobody really tells you how to do that and second, we need to take a much broader view in our approach of mindset. It’s far more than merely eliminating negative thoughts and thinking positive ones.
That’s why I’ve always found myself resisting the mainstream talks on mindset. It’s more complex than that. In my blog posts Keys to Personal Transformation and Getting Rid of Toxic Thinking, I explained the power of subconscious mind and how it affects our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Instead of reducing mindset to either positive or negative thoughts, or to believing the right set of doctrines and truths, it is a lot more helpful to look at mindset from the perspective of human potential.
In this blog I will highlight the concept of a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset and how these affect our view of ourselves, our successes, and our personal and our spiritual lives!
IQ vs. Potential
I don’t know if you’ve ever done an IQ test. I haven’t. I’ve always bucked against it for fear the score would be lower than ‘awesome’, and that the result would influence my belief of what I could or couldn’t do in life. Of course, if my IQ would be sky-rocket high, I would think I could take on the whole world! But what if the score was average? I knew I didn’t want to be average in life and therefore I never did the IQ test. Period.
Without knowing, I instinctively did something right. Alfred Binet, the engineer of the modern IQ test, said himself that although intelligence can be measured, human potential cannot. This variable remains an unknown quantity. You cannot measure or predict human potential, it’s inexhaustible regardless of your IQ score. Good news!
No matter where you are at or what your starting point is in life, you can always grow. A growth mindset focuses on expanding one’s territory of knowledge, skill and ability. It taps into the potential to develop, to take on challenges and to advance in life.
On the contrary, the fixed mindset is rather focused on maintaining status quo. Why? Because it holds on to labels. You’ve probably heard people say, “That’s just the way I am, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Wrong. You can. But you cannot if you stay stuck in a fixed mindset and try to find excuses not to grow.
Identify Your Labels
The bad news is that we are mostly conditioned by a fixed mindset. It starts in early childhood education: we are labeled smart or stupid, gifted or average, intellectually brilliant or challenged. What we can and cannot do is assessed by results at a given moment and expressed in grades and rewards. Our assessment or rewarding systems celebrates the results. Pass or fail. They don’t look at the individual’s development, nor do they reward effort – key ingredients to success.
Results or labels, however, don’t say anything about human potential. Winston Churchill failed in elementary school and was labeled as mentally challenged in high school. Albert Einstein was an average student, Thomas Edison’s teacher said he was too stupid to learn anything. But they all reached great heights by developing a growth mindset, by tireless effort, and putting their minds to the task in front of them.
What you believe about yourself and your ability determines your success as well as your approach to life and to learning. Where you are today says nothing about where you can be tomorrow, in five years or in ten years. You will only stay the same if you stay caught in a fixed mindset.
What you can do:
Ask yourself: what labels have others put on me that I have adhered to? What labels have I put on myself? What is it that I truly believe about myself, my potential and what I can do in life?
In my next blog post I will explore more of the growth mindset, how you can develop it and how it can change your future. Stay tuned!
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