You can view life in two ways:
1. Life is a series of failures.
In everything we do, we fall short of what we could be.
2. Life is a series of small wins.
In everything we do, we grow a little more towards our full potential.
Which view do you prefer?
How about we get greedy here and take both? I don’t know about you, but I’m a both kind of guy.
In everything I do, I’m falling short of what I could be. There are so many paths I could have taken, so many ways I could have gone. And maybe those paths would have been better.
But not only that. There are times when I actively mess up. I hurt people. I don’t do as well as I could have done.
At the same time, in everything I do, even when I mess things up, I’m growing. I’m getting better. Moving towards who I can be. I learn from my mistakes.
This is called the growth mindset.
It’s actually the secret to turning your failures into your best friends.
The idea of the growth mindset was created by psychology professor Carol Dweck.
According to Dr. Dweck, if you adopt a growth mindset, you’re more likely to live a successful and happy life.
What is the growth mindset? If you want to adopt the growth mindset, you must be willing to:
- Embrace challenges. A person with a growth mindset recognizes that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Challenges are not there to be shirked, but are an opportunity to grow.
- See effort as the road to mastery. Instead of looking for shortcuts, with the growth mindset, you know that learning is a path that must be walked the long way. Effort is the key to properly learning skills.
- Keep going when things go wrong. Instead of letting setbacks knock you down, see them as a learning opportunity.
- Leave your ego behind. With the growth mindset, you no longer tie up your self-worth with your success rate, or what other people think about you. You know your own self-worth, and it’s about how much effort you put in.
- Learn from negative feedback. Because your self-worth isn’t invested in what others think about you, you don’t take criticism personally. Instead, you’re grateful for negative feedback, as it gives you an opportunity to change things for the better. You can’t always see your own mistakes.
- Be inspired by the success of others. Instead of seething with envy when someone else wins, you recognize that the world can be a win-win place. You use their story as an inspiration for your own success, not to beat up on yourself.
In Dweck’s own words, people with a growth mindset:
“understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
A growth mindset doesn’t protect you from making mistakes. You will make mistakes, and they will hurt. But they’ll no longer rip your world to shreds, or mean that you’re a failure.
Instead, you can use your mistakes as an opportunity for learning. Then mistakes no longer mean that you’re a failure, but are a sign that you’re on a journey to growth.
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