We discussed the superpower of curiosity in a prior article; another important mental superpower is a growth mindset. In her book Succeed, psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson talks about two mindsets related to growth:
- Fixed Mindset: People with a fixed mindset feel limited by their current ability. They spend time proving their ability and protecting their ego. This often means avoiding situations where they might fail.
- Growth Mindset: People with a growth mindset believe they can attain any new ability. People with a growth mindset spend time improving their abilities. A high growth rate that continually adds abilities will beat a fixed set of abilities in the long run.
Many studies have been done on this in classrooms. To instill a growth mindset in children, praise effort, not ability. When someone with a growth mindset comes across a problem, they believe they can figure it out through learning, creativity, and effort. If you don’t know how to do something, simply add it to your learning list.
You should never let your current ability hold you back or allow yourself to be overcome by limiting beliefs. The rate of learning or growth is the biggest indicator of success. In today’s world of human knowledge doubling every 13 months, becoming an intentional lifelong learner may be the only sustainable advantage. Therefore, a growth mindset is essential to your success.
In the book The Secret, the author claims imagining you have something will help you get it. Research finds this isn’t exactly right. First, having a goal is important; otherwise, you don’t have a target. Thinking about the benefits of the goal can be motivational because it reminds you why you are doing something. The most important thing to imagine is how you will get there. That includes what you need to do, any obstacles you may encounter, and how you will react to those obstacles. This is realistic optimism: the belief that you can do it, but there will be challenges, and you can handle them.