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How we handle failure is more important than how we handle success. We are all going to experience failure at some point in our lives, and our attitude about that failure is what determines whether we bounce back or fall hard.
Success is often attributed to hard work, but the truth is that mindset is what makes it all happen. According to Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University, there are two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset is what allows us to see failure as opportunity and not letting it stop us on our drive to success.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required. Those with a fixed mindset avoid difficult tasks so they can avoid mistakes.
Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can get smarter, they realize that their effort has an effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement. The growth mindset person allows challenges to make them stronger and find opportunity to grow through failure.
Which mindset have you been employing? Are you fixed and limiting yourself or are you growth minded, seeing opportunity in all the good and the bad?
Being prepared with a growth mindset will strengthen your perseverance and ability to bounce back when you face failure.
25 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections. Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them.
2. View challenges as opportunities. Having a growth mindset means relishing opportunities for self-improvement. Learn more about how to fail well.
3. Try different learning tactics. There’s no one-size-fits-all model for learning. What works for one person may not work for you. Learn about learning strategies.
4. Follow the research on brain plasticity. The brain isn’t fixed; the mind shouldn’t be either.
5. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.” When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.
6. Stop seeking approval. When you prioritize approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth.
7. Value the process over the end result. Intelligent people enjoy the learning process, and don’t mind when it continues beyond an expected time frame.
8. Cultivate a sense of purpose.
Dweck’s research also showed that those with a growth mindset had a greater sense of purpose. Keep the big picture in mind.
9. Celebrate growth with others. If you truly appreciate growth, you’ll want to share your progress with others.
10. Emphasize growth over speed. Learning fast isn’t the same as learning well, and learning well sometimes requires allowing time for mistakes.
11. Reward actions, not traits. Take a look around at your colleagues, your friends, coworkers, business partners and employees.
When they’re doing something smart, not just being smart mention it to them. Tell them! Reward them with your words.
12. Redefine “genius.” The myth’s been busted: genius requires hard work, not talent alone.
13. Portray criticism as positive. You don’t have to use that hackneyed term, “constructive criticism,” but you do have to believe in the concept.
14. Disassociate improvement from failure. Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure.
15. Take regular opportunities for reflection. Reflect on your learning at least once a day.
16. Place effort before talent. Hard work should always be rewarded before inherent skill.
17. Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training.” The brain is like a muscle that needs to be worked out, just like the body.
18. Cultivate grit. People with that extra bit of determination will be more likely to seek approval from themselves rather than others.
19. Abandon the image. “Naturally smart” sounds just about as believable as “spontaneous generation.” You won’t achieve the image if you’re not ready for the work.
20. Use the word “yet.” Dweck says “not yet” has become one of her favorite phrases. Whenever you see colleagues struggling with a task, just tell them they haven’t mastered it yet.
21. Learn from other people’s mistakes. It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realize that humans share the same weaknesses.
22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished. You’ll never be done learning. Just because your midterm exam is over doesn’t mean you should stop being interested in a subject. Growth-minded people know how to constantly create new goals to keep themselves stimulated.
23. Take risks in the company of others. Stop trying to save face all the time and just let yourself goof up now and then. It will make it easier to take risks in the future.
24. Think realistically about time and effort. It takes time to learn. Don’t expect to master every topic under the sun in one sitting.
25. Take ownership over your attitude. Once you develop a growth mindset, own it. Acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout all your business endeavors.