The Growth Mindset: Why Greatness Is a Habit, Not the End Goal
Chris is the Head of Operations and a Growth Marketer at Lean Labs who enjoys strategizing and writing content that drives results. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.
What happened the last time you didn't reach a goal?
Did you blame yourself for failing to execute? Maybe you decided you just weren't cut out for it.
This is what happens with most people. They mean well and start on the right path to reaching their goals, and then for one reason or another, they break the chain. It comes in the form of a donut for breakfast instead of eggs or sleeping instead of going for a run. We often notice it and swear it won't happen again, only to find ourselves a week later, making the same mistake.
But, what if I told you a simple change in your mindset could take common slips and put you on a quicker path to success? Well, once you see how shifting the paradigm to one that builds habits increases your chance of success, you'll have the same opportunity.
Developing the Growth Mindset and Achieving Greatness
The term 'growth mindset' has become a household phrase. It's one that connotes greatness and high achievement. Yet, for some reason, it's not common among the mainstream. So many professionals have adopted this mentality and seen the results, but people act as though it was luck or an act of some higher power.
Well, I'm happy to be the one to break it to you, but all the growth mindset requires is some discipline and a hunger to improve yourself.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
―William Jennings Bryan
The opposite of the growth mindset is a fixed one. With this way of thinking, you believe that everything you have and are can't change. People with this mindset think they're born with innate traits that express themselves as you age. They think there's nothing you can do to learn things you're naturally incapable of.
Because this mindset refuses to believe you can grow, additional effort is viewed as a negative. It's like the student who says they're better at English and that math is hard. Therefore, it's pointless to try getting better at the latter since it'll always be difficult.
Similarly, talent is viewed as finite. If someone is athletic, it's not because of the years of practice and hard work. It's because they were born with the right genes.
Now, a growth mindset is the complete opposite. Thinking in this manner opens you up to improvements because you realize nothing is finite. You believe you're born with certain tendencies, but that just gives you a foundation to build on. It's the student who's bad at math but finds a way to make it more digestible so they can understand it easier. It's the person who's bad at sports but practices the basic skills until it becomes second nature and they make the team.
The growth mindset is one that gives you permission to explore new methods for reaching your goals. Compared to the fixed mindset, where people think some goals aren't meant to be achieved, a growth-minded person is on the path to reaching beyond their goals.
How to Adopt a Growth Mindset
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.”
So, if achieving everything you thought possible is appealing, you're probably wondering how to adopt the growth mindset for yourself.
First, you need to be able to stay optimistic. Everything in life hinges on your outlook, and if you have a pessimistic view on everything, you'll be too focused on your demise to be able to improve. Optimistic people are ready for the future, no matter what it holds, because they're going to make the most of what they get. They're also more apt to gain followers because optimism, while just as contagious as pessimism, is much more enjoyable to experience.
As you start looking at the challenges you face, consider that a growth-minded person views them as opportunities. Every challenge is a way to learn something new and develop your abilities. Since you're optimistic, you'll look forward to each of these challenges and constantly seek larges ones to build yourself faster.
A fixed mindset will cause you to focus on a single way of doing things. This makes it impossible to think outside the box and come up with new and better solutions. A growth mindset means you're willing to try new things because it's how you learn.
Finally, to rapidly develop the growth mindset, you need to be prepared to learn from the mistakes and successes of others. This means reading, watching, and observing anyone and anything that aligns to one of your goals. If you can do this, you can make more informed decisions and achieve your goals far faster than if you had to learn on your own.
Focus on the Habit, Not the End
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”
One of the hardest parts of adopting a growth mindset is shifting what success means. Achieving your desired result is only the recognition of success. To be truly successful, you need to do the right things every day that lead to that point.
This is a shift in the paradigm and is especially important in developing the growth mindset in children. Rather than praising them for their traits, like "You're so smart," they should be rewarded for how they approach a problem with comments like, "Good thinking." With the former, what happens when they get an answer wrong? Will they think they're stupid and aren't capable of solving problems like that? This is important because as adults, we tend to fall into this manner of thinking.
Valuing the process over the end result means you embrace every situation, whether successful or not, because it's a chance to grow. Every experience you have is an opportunity to learn something new. If you can maintain that thought process, you'll find the ability to develop your skills and understanding incredibly fast.
Building a Habit of Greatness
Developing a growth mindset requires effort every day until it becomes second nature. If you can turn these process into a habit, you'll see bigger improvements every day, until you can barely recognize your previous self.
The key, however, is to ensure you're building the right habits to reach your goals. If you can stack positive habits with concrete clues, you'll be more apt to follow through. And when you start noticing the benefits in your personal life, you'll also see your professional growth taking off. And at that point, it's time to set new goals.