This Mind-Set Will Determine Whether or Not You Succeed

by Daniel Barna
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Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Are you the type of person who believes that the skillset you were given is the one that will determine how your life plays out? Or do you believe in the idea of growth through failure and hard work? According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, most people fall into one of these two mind-sets—what she calls the fixed mind-set and the growth mind-set.

In her groundbreaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck writes that the view you have of yourself can play a big part in determining what kind of life you lead. People with fixed mind-sets believe things like “mental ability, character, and creative skills” can’t be changed, which means that they’re in constant search of validation of the skills they do have.

On the flip side, those with a growth mind-set believe the traits and strengths you inherit are just the beginning, and the possibility of growth and success is built with hard work and experience. Perhaps most importantly, people with a growth mind-set view failure not as a confirmation of their shortcomings, but instead as an opportunity to get better.

Dweck writes that the biggest difference between the two mind-sets is that one is defined by its hunger for approval while the other puts the focus on a passion for learning. “I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships,“ Dweck writes of people with a fixed mind-set. “Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”

As for people with a growth mind-set, Dweck writes that they aren’t of the belief that “anyone can be anything,” but that “a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”

What kind of person are you, and what can you do to change your mind-set?

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