Hey there. Welcome back to the episode on growth mindset here at Optimize Your Life podcast. So today what I’d like to do is it really explain what a growth mindset is and in order for me to do that, I want to start out by taking a look at what a fixed mindset is in order to understand what a growth mindset is not. So we’re to start by looking at the opposite end of the stick and then once you get a clear understanding of what a growth mindset is, then we’re going to talk about how you can cultivate it for yourself.
So just like with any other process, a fixed mindset is basically a set of thoughts and what we know is that thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors and that’s why it’s important to understand the cascade of events, things that happen inside of us. So let’s take a look at the kinds of thoughts that somebody with a fixed mindset actually holds so that you can see why you perhaps if that’s you you’re getting the kinds of results that you’re getting.
So it starts with thoughts like:
- It’s too hard
- I can’t do it
- It’s too late for me
- I’ll never learn
- I’m a failure
AndI’d like to take a moment right now and just deconstruct each one of those kinds of thoughts so that you can see why they’re not helpful and why they are keeping you stuck.
The thought “it’s too hard” is basically making a judgment not just on whatever task it is that you have in front of you but on your ability to get it done. And one of the things that I know is that often times we overestimate how hard things are and we underestimate how much we can actually do and how many skills we have or how much we can cope with a situation.
Take COVID for example. So many people, as they were coming to learn about the restrictions that were coming into place with quarantining and things like that, were like “This is too hard. I can’t stay away from everybody I know. I can’t quarantine in place. I’m going to go crazy! I’m going to be so lonely. This is going to be the end of me. It’s going to be so hard not being able to go on vacation and run business-as-usual.” Whatever the case may be, it was a different set of circumstances than what we were used to and I think what’s so important is to notice that those circumstances are fixed but it’s your mindset that’s going to then determine how you feel about those circumstances.
So when you say to yourself, “It’s too hard. I can’t do it” you’re going to feel more likely stuck. You’re going to feel like you have a lack of confidence. You might even feel a sense of shame.
And the same goes with if you say, “It’s too late for me.” Let’s say you wanted to change your career and you wanted to do something that you were really passionate about but then you had this idea that you have to be 20 years old to start on a new path. You have to be young and you have to be straight out of school and that if you are somebody who already has kids or somebody who is already retired from your job or somebody who is X number years old then you can’t do whatever it is that you want to do. That is never the case and I want to tell you that as an entrepreneur I come across a lot of women in particular who are in their 70s — no joke — and are now starting a new venture in their career. They are launching as coaches and creating programs and products and are out there with so much enthusiasm and passion and that is exactly because they don’t have that sort of fixed mindset. They allow themselves to be who they want to be without limitation. And that’s really what can happen when you go from that fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. So so far we’ve said that the kind of thoughts that you have, in other words that mindset — whether it’s fixed or growth, is going to lead to certain feelings. So if you have a fixed mindset you’re more likely to feel stuck, to have a lack of confidence, and to feel shame. And if you feel any of those things you could probably reverse-engineer it to understand that the mindset that you have is fixed, if you weren’t aware of that before, and not only that… then we’re going to talk about when you have those kinds of feelings, when you are feeling stuck, when you do lack confidence, when you are ashamed of yourself — what happens? What do you actually end up doing?
And so from a behavioral standpoint here’s what we usually see for people from that emotional state. They tend to avoid challenges. They like to stick only to what they know. They play small. They beat themselves up for all of their mistakes and they give up easily. These are the kinds of behaviors that we see. And so when you have these kinds of behaviors, when you’re kind of avoiding the world, avoiding anything that’s not certain, where you’re not allowing yourself to take risks, what do you think are the outcomes for you? And you can probably answer this if this is you, right? What you are probably going to find is that you’re not satisfied. You don’t have the kind of life that you truly want to live. You’ve kind of settled. And I want to tell you that if you are in this place where you feel stuck, where you kind of settled, where you’re not satisfied — that it’s really not too late for you. The real thing that is going to help you more than anything is to start at the top and to change that fixed mindset into a mindset of growth.
And so essentially a growth mindset is all the things that a fixed mindset is not. So instead of saying to yourself “it’s too hard” what could you say instead? You might say “It’s never too late for me. I can totally do this even when it’s hard. I learn from my mistakes” and notice I mentioned shame earlier. Shame usually comes when we take a local problem and we make it more generalized. So let’s say you experience of failure in something. You’ve tried something out it didn’t work out. And then instead of telling yourself “oops, I made a mistake” you tell yourself “I am a failure” right? It’s when you make it about you as a person that you are now indicating that you are the problem not whatever your behavior was. And that’s it not really allow for any sort of learning or for growth. It basically just shames you and it leads to you just believing that you can’t do anything because you ARE a failure. And of course if you are a failure than everything you’re going to do is going to fail. And we all know that that’s not true there is no such thing as always failing at everything and that means that there are no “ failures” in terms of people. There’s just failures in terms of our attempts. The more you can wrap your head around this self-talk and how it’s completely unhelpful, the more that you can start to restructure your self-talk, the mindset that you have, the instructions that you give yourself and that’s going to then cascade again into more positive feelings that are going to lead you to take more risks, to be more open, to be flexible, and to try things so that you have an opportunity to really prosper.
And I have to tell you that when you do that, it’s like being at a buffet and saying “I get to sample all the things. I can take anything I want from this buffet and maybe I won’t like some of the foods. Maybe some of them won’t agree with me, but I get to try whatever I want” and there’s so much joy in that. If you’ve ever been to a buffet that’s kind of all-you-can-eat, it is so exciting. I have taken my kids once to a buffet like that. They’d never seen anything like it and their mind was exploding like, “oh my God! There is so much!” Right? It gives you that sense of abundance, like anything is possible. You can do anything, you can try anything. There’s so much more joy and excitement in life when you give yourself that gift and open yourself up to those possibilities as opposed to saying “there is this buffet out there and all I can have is a piece of lettuce.” How fun would it be to visit an all-you-can-eat buffet when you have that sort of food restriction? Not so fun. You probably wouldn’t end up going to the buffet. You’d just grab a piece of lettuce from your fridge and stay home. And that’s kind of miserable life, isn’t it? It’s very limiting and it doesn’t really allow you to experience all the flavors and all the possibilities, all the excitement that’s really available to you.
So I want you to understand how important this is because it’s those thoughts that you have that come from your mindset that lead to how you feel and then lead to the behaviors that you take which then lead to your outcomes.
So if you have a hard time thinking from the framework of a growth mindset, you can borrow from someone else’s brain. Here are quotes by people I admire who I feel got it right.
Albert Einstein was quoted to say “It’s not that I’m smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
So think about this: If Albert Einstein had a fixed mindset, what would happen? He probably would not stay with problems longer and our world be really different from the way that we know it now, right? Think about all the people that have contributed. Do you think that they woke up one day and somebody served them all of their solutions and all of their ideas on a silver platter? No, right? They had to figure it out and figuring it out means that you’re going to fail along the way. It means that you’re not born knowing all the things. That’s what he saying, “I’m not so smart.” And we all know that he’s a genius, right? But we also know that he persevered, that he had tenacity and grit and all the things that make us really amazing in the world, and that all is about having a growth mindset.
Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying “It’s hard to fail but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” So I want you to consider what that is really saying. Nobody here likes to fail. It’s not like “woohoo! I’ve experienced failure. Now it’s time to celebrate!” It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but guess what? When you fail and you learn from your mistakes, you are that much smarter and that much more informed about what does work. And you’re constantly iterating and getting to that place of success. So you’re getting closer and closer to your goal and this is true whether you’re an athlete. Uou look even at somebody like Michael Jordan. He didn’t start out being Michael Jordan as we know him today. He started out as a guy who had to practice many many hours and in fact it was his drive that forced him to constantly show up and practice and practice and practice until he really refined his art and more than anything, it was his mindset because even when he experienced failure he never let it get him down. He always pushed harder to get back on top.
Another quote is from Mark Twain and he said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do then the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbor. Explore, dream, discover.” I think those are such wise words because it’s so true. We are stuck in fear usually in the here-and-now. We’re always worried about the proximity to our failure. We’re thinking like, “If I do this thing — tomorrow I might experience this pain or the suffering or this disappointment.” But what would you what happens when you don’t take that step and then it’s the end of your life and you’re looking back and then you have all these thoughts that start with “I probably should have done this thing” and then you have regrets but now it’s really too late because you’re on your deathbed and there’s no time left, right?
So I want you to really consider how you approach life because we really get one shot at this and I want you to live life to the fullest.
And I’m going to end with a quote by Winston Churchill and he said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” What a beautiful way to sum up a growth mindset. It really is about going from failure to failure, learning along the way and always staying optimistic and enthusiastic because you know you’re getting closer, because you know this is your journey. This is hoping you refine your skills and the mindset is the thing that’s going to keep you motivated to stick with it even when you have failure on your lap.
Now one of the things that I know to be true is that your mindset is very much ingrained because it’s a thought pattern, right? You are used to thinking in a certain way and if this is you, if you have that fixed mindset, if you’ve had it your whole life, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late. It just means that you have to focus on what you’re telling yourself and making those changes. And it can be a bit of a daunting task because it requires a lot of mindfulness. But here’s the good news.
You can join me and helping you to really reshape the mindset that you have and even deeper the beliefs that drive those types of thoughts that are going through your mind every single day. So go to The Priming Lab to learn more about how you can join me in this amazing process of priming your brain for success. I will share more details about this particular project and membership program that I have in future episodes but I want invite you just to get a taste of that. So go to thepriming lab.com to learn all that you can get as a result of being a member and I hope you join me. Until next time take great care of your mind.