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Mindset of Success

Updated on February 13, 2008

Our Mindset Makes the Difference



What do we mean by mindset?

Our mindset is "an established set of attitudes held by someone" according to the Oxford American dictionary.

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck advances the theory that there are two types of mindset. One is fixed and the opposite is a growth mindset. Most people will have a fixed mindset about some things and a growth or open mindset about other things.

A fixed mindset means exactly what you might think. We have a fixed attitude about how things should be. We would have a fixed mindset about income if we accepted the idea that the only legitimate way to earn a living would be to get a job. On the other hand, we would have a growth mindset about income if we realized there were a multitude of different methods to earn a living. By limiting ourselves to only one way - getting a job - we dramatically limit our possibilities.

There are so many different ways that we can have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. We may have a fixed mindset about the friends we wish to associate with. We may have a fixed mindset about the type of house, neighborhood or area of the country we might choose to live in. Any time we have a fixed mindset about anything we limit our possibilities.

It is extremely important that you have a growth mindset. You must be open to the opportunities that exist. There are opportunities all around us. But listen to someone who is out of work. What do they say? That there are no good jobs available. Companies are just not hiring.

One of the big ways that our mindset determines our future is how we think about talent versus work. As a society, we praise talent. In our society, tall men earn more than their shorter brothers. Attractive women get ahead faster and go farther than their homely sisters. Our society has a fixed mindset about these attributes. However, as employers we often shortchange our companies by taking such a short sighted view of things. We should praise hard work, not talent. We need to look beyond the surface and see the deeper qualities a person possesses.

A person with a fixed mindset is often arrogant. Thinking that there is only one way to achieve a goal and they have the answer. There are generally numerous ways to arrive at a particular goal. We must be flexible in our approach.

Prosperity - Scarcity Mindset

We need to examine our mindset with respect to prosperity or scarcity. We either have a prosperity mindset or a scarcity mindset. How we view the world and its resources will have a huge impact on our ability to accomplish our goals.

If you have a scarcity mindset, you view the world as having limited resources. We tend to think that there is a scarcity of jobs, income opportunities and relationship opportunities. As you know by now, what we think about, we bring about. We manifest that which we believe. Therefore if we think that there is a scarcity of resources, we tend to horde resources. This becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. A scarcity mindset creates scarcity. We become stingy with our time, money and other resources. We even become stingy with our love. Can you see the dangers of having a scarcity mindset?

On the other side of the spectrum is a prosperity mindset. Here we tend to see the world as having an abundance of resources. There are plenty of jobs, income opportunities and relationship opportunities. All we need to do is to open our mind to the possibilities. Since we tend to manifest what we believe, having a prosperity mindset tends to attract prosperity to us. We are no longer stingy. We realize that the more we give, the more we get. We no longer horde our precious resources. We understand that there are ample resources to fill all our needs.

Please do not confuse a prosperity mindset with being wasteful. A prosperity mindset does not waste precious resources. The average American today waste too many resources. We buy things that we do not really need and fail to use the things we have. This is not a prosperity mindset. This is the hording that comes with the scarcity mindset.

The competitive - collaborative mindset

We live in a very competitive society. This goes hand in hand with the scarcity mentality. We feel like we must compete with others for jobs, relationships and scarce resources. As a result we have developed a "go it alone" mindset. We do not want to share. We want to do it all by ourselves and get all the spoils of victory.

We are taught from grade school on to compete for grades, for sports teams and for academic or school positions of leadership. Competition becomes inbred.

But you need to stop and ask yourself if this is the best way? Is competition the way nature intended us to live? Could we actually stand a better chance of achieving our goals is we learned to collaborate with others?

We could learn a lot from ants and bees. These are very primitive animal life forms. Yet they can construct elaborate anthills and beehives. And they do it by working together.

You will never accomplish anything truly great working solely by yourself. Edison did not invent the light bulb working alone. Bill Gates did not build Microsoft alone. No matter what your goal, you will need help to achieve it. And the more help you have, the faster you will achieve your goals.

Fast food mindset

Unfortunately, as a nation, we have developed a fast food mindset. We have come to expect things to happen immediately. We have our instant messaging, instant e-mails and our fast foods. We have developed the mindset if we have to wait, we don't want it.

That is rather unfortunate. While there are some things we do not like to wait for, you will need to change your mindset when it comes to achieving your goals in life. You are where you are based on a lifetime of thought and actions. You cannot expect to undo this overnight. You cannot expect to reprogram your mind instantly. It will take some time.

You will need to develop some realistic time frames for achieving your goals. You will also need to understand that you cannot force things to happen on your schedule. If you have spent a few years building up credit card debt, unless you are very lucky, you will not make a fortune overnight to satisfy all your financial needs.

If you try to force things to happen as you want them, you will meet with failure more often than not. You can achieve your goals and dreams. You just need to be realistic about how long it might take.

How does our mindset affect our lives?

As you can see from the above examples, our mindset has a significant bearing on our ability to achieve our goals. Our mindset literally shapes our lives. What we think about, we bring about. Therefore it is vitally important that we develop a growth mindset. We must be open to new possibilities. We need to be receptive to new concepts, to new ways of doing things. If we think there is only one way to solve a problem, only one path to achieve our goals, we limit ourselves and may in fact close ourselves off to the path we really should take.

We often have a fixed mindset about our abilities. We have often accepted all we have been told about our limitations. As a child, how many times were you told, "Don't try that." Or, "You'll never be able to be a _________ (doctor, professional, or whatever you were told)" or worse yet, "You need to learn your place." Most of us were constantly feed negative messages as children. While they were probably given with the best of intentions, they became programmed into our brains. We are now burdened with self-limiting beliefs about our abilities. We need to open our minds to the possibilities of what can be.

As children, we were often fed lots of information about the types of relationships we should develop. Again, our parents and teachers had what they thought were our best interest in mind. But for the most part they told us to fit in. Don't make waves. Don't color outside the box or play outside the box. In other words we were taught to conform. Therefore we have been conditioned to conform. Successful people do not do the same things that everyone else does. If they did exactly as everyone else did, they would get the same results. The successful people are doing something different. While I am not suggesting that you be a rebel or do anything disruptive, you must be open to doing things that are outside the box.

What is a growth mindset?

It is simply being open to all possibilities. It is not having a fixed idea about how things should be done. It is being open to learning new ways to do things. With a growth mindset, we do not spend time on trying to defend our preconceived notion of how the world should work. We are constantly exploring for new and better ways to do things. We are seeking alternate ways to view the world.

A growth mindset requires that we are constantly learning and growing. One thing about learning, the more we learn the more we realize how little we know.

It is very important that you question your long held beliefs about things. Learn to be open to seeing things from a different point of view. You will achieve your goals much faster that way.

How can we develop a growth mindset?

By simply being aware of your attitudes that control your behavior. Learn to question or observe why you are doing certain things. Stop doing thing automatically. Stop reacting like a robot. Start to look at the reasons why you are taking the actions you are taking. Observe your feelings about what you are doing. As you become aware of why you are doing things, ask yourself if there might be a better way. Open your mind to the endless possibilities that exist.


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