When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. Psychologist Carol Dweck concluded that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ. He found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setback with open arms. According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way.
“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”
You can make changes and develop a growth mindset in your little ones. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your child’s mindset and help make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.
1. BE PASSIONATE
Empowered people pursue their passion relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than your children are, but what they lack in talent, they can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffet recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.
2. TAKE ACTION
It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.
3. GO THE EXTRA MILE
Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.” If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?
4. EXPECT RESULTS
People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps your child motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if your child doesn’t think he/she is going to succeed, then why bother?
5. BE FLEXIBLE
Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.
6. DON’T COMPLAIN
Let not your children complain when things don’t go their way. Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.
By keeping track of how your child responds to little things, you can work every day to keep your child on the right side.