I try to chip my way through a book any chance I get and one of the books I’m reading is called, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” by Carol Dweck. I was interested in reading it probably for obvious reasons. But, if you don’t already know, I’m a big believer that people can do whatever they set their minds to do and Dweck’s twenty years of research has shown that the view we adopt for ourselves profoundly affects the way we lead our lives.
According to Dweck, there are two mindsets: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities are carved in stone. In other words, there is no amount of practice or learning that would make them better. They believe that they are either naturally born with talent or there’s nothing they can do to improve. On the other hand, the passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.
I ask the question on the subject line because not everyone is born to have the “skinny genes” (pun intended). I certainly wasn’t. Yet, I know a lot people who aren’t meant to be fit or lean manage to do so and maintain it. What is their secret?
To find out, try finishing these sentences:
If at first you don’t succeed…
People with the fixed mindset would finish these sentences this way:
If at first you don’t succeed, it wasn’t meant to be.
Nothing ventured, nothing lost.
While people with the growth mindset would finish these sentences this way:
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
See the difference?
Here’s another example. On the surface, a lot of people may think that Michael Jordan is a natural athlete. He just had what it takes to be a legend. But, Michael Jordan himself would beg to differ. After his short stint in baseball, there was a huge commotion about him returning to basketball.
Here is what he said, “I was shocked with the level of intensity my coming back to the game created…People were praising me like I was a religious cult or something. That was embarrassing. I’m a human being like everyone else.”
Jordan knew how hard he had worked to develop his abilities. He was a person who had struggled and grown, not a person who was naturally better than others.
Here is a Nike commercial showing just that:
On the other hand, there are people like John McEnroe who has a fixed mindset. He believed that talent was all. His talent was so great that he won seven Grand Slam titles in tennis. But, he did not love to learn. He did not thrive on challenges; when the going got rough, he often folded. As a result, by his own admission, he did not fulfill his full potential.
I definitely wasn’t born with talent. Whatever I have achieved in life, it’s because I worked hard at it. It would’ve been nice to be gifted with some sort of talent but then I wonder if that would be curse more than a blessing because then I might not work as hard as I do.
I have a pretty good idea what kind of mindset Transformers have but it’s good to be reminded every now and then that even great athletes like Michael Jordan have to practice, learn, and work hard at being excellent. Innate talent or having the genes for it is simply not enough. Keep that in mind whenever you hit a wall or a plateau in whatever goal you’re trying to achieve. You just might surprise yourself at what you can do!
Keep moving forward (and take others with you),