According to Tony Robbins “80% of success is mindset. Only 20% is mechanics and strategy” and Henry Ford said “If you believe you can or you believe you can’t you’ll be right”, so what is it that these very successful men knew about harnessing the power of their minds?
What is a positive or growth mindset and how does it impact our lives?
A positive or growth mindset is a powerful tool
The mindset enables us to see possibilities that a negative or fixed mindset would filter out.
This is because a positive mindset enables us to take responsibility for our outcomes, this is empowering as it means that we have the power to create the results that we desire in our life.
The flip side of this is a fixed or negative mindset.
This is disempowering as it places the responsibility for our results external to us. Someone with a fixed or negative mindset will look to blame others or external events or circumstances for their results. This can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety as these people do not feel that they are in control of their results and therefore feel powerless to effect change.
Having a positive or growth mindset is not the same thing as simply thinking happy thoughts all the time.
It is not a musical where the person with a positive mindset skips through life singing, dancing and eating icecream.
Having a positive mindset means seeing the challenges that come up in life for what they are.
Taking responsibility for what they can change and finding positive ways to achieve their outcomes.
Having a positive mindset means knowing that the storm will pass and looking out for the rainbow.
Having a negative mindset means often seeing challenges as bigger than they really are, feeling powerless to change their circumstances, not taking responsibility for what they can control therefor not giving themselves the power to create changes in their lives.
Having a fixed mindset means believing that the outcome is already predetermined and so there is no point in attempting to change it. This can lead to a belief that the storm will never pass.
What is a Growth Mindset?
Having a growth mindset has been demonstrated to reduce a student’s levels of stress and anxiety while at the same time increasing their motivation, grades, achievements and test scores based on the research by Stanford University’s Dr. Dweck and Lisa Blackwell Ph.D. This is because when students have a positive, growth mindset they know that they are in control of their results. They know that their intelligence is not fixed and their future is not predetermined. They understand that intelligence can be developed and that they have the ability to achieve their goals if they are willing to find a way. The students who have a negative or fixed mindset often believe that intelligence and results are fixed or predetermined, that it is outside of their control. These students don’t try as hard and often experience stress and anxiety.
In their paper titled “The Effects of Mindset on Behavior” David A. Armor from Yale University and Shelley E. Taylor from the University of California, Los Angeles reported finding a direct correlation between a person’s mindset and their behavior.
Those who had a positive mindset approached tasks with an expectation of success. This meant that they tried harder, were less likely to be deterred and were more likely to stick with the task overcoming obstacles to see it to completion.
They found that the group with the negative mindset not only gave up quicker but under performed based on their ability. They concluded that mindset not only effect your behavior but you cognition and overall performance as well.
A wonderful example of a true growth mindset is that of Thomas Edison.
While inventing the light bulb he was asked if he felt that he had failed after so many attempts had not produced a working light bulb. To which he famously replied,
“I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.
Shortly after this he did indeed invent a working light bulb, imagine where we would be today if he had seen his setbacks as failures.
Three things you can do to move to a more positive mindset
- Take some time to think about what it is that you’d like to achieve.
It can be a big goal or a small step; either way know that you have the power to make it happen. Then create a plan of action and make a start. This will fire up your reticular activator system, which will build motivation.
- Understand that your future is in your hands.
Nothing is predetermined, you can choose your path and with it choose your results.
- Look for the positive lesson in every situation.
It can be very hard to see at times but keep looking. The more you look for the positive the more you will begin to see it.
David A. Armor from Yale University and Shelley E. Taylor from the University of California, Los Angeles academic paper titled “The Effects of Mindset on Behavior: Self-Regulation in Deliberative and Implemental Frames of Mind”
Stanford University’s Dr. Dweck and Lisa Blackwell Ph.D, Sanford Alumni
Magazine article titled “The Effort Effect” and book titled “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”