If you’re like me, you hate it when you make a mistake.
You beat yourself up when something you’ve put your heart into doesn’t work out as you planned. You feel discouraged, maybe even defeated, and question whether you really have the aptitude for this kind of work.
I’ve even questioned if I’m smart enough. Maybe I’m not, and there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t change how intelligent I am, can I?
Wait one second!
If we go too far down this road, and let our failures limit what we do by selecting only those activities that come easily to us, actions with little chance of failure, we are insulating ourselves from failure – and growth.
In her groundbreaking book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, a Psychology Professor from Stanford, provides an in-depth study on the power of a growth mindset in changing how we view failure and obstacles, and how they are actually the key to getting what we want most out of life.
Dweck says people are divided into two camps – those with a fixed mindset who think their personality and intelligence are fixed and cannot be changed versus people with a growth mindset who believe intellectual and other important skills can be cultivated through effort and perseverance.
I have to admit, I often feel attracted to the fixed mindset idea – choosing things that are in my comfort zone, where I know that I can succeed without a high risk of failure.
But at other times, especially over the last 17 years with Media-X, I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone in order to help the company move forward. When I recently discovered Dweck’s Mindset book, I realized just how vital it is to fully embrace a growth mindset.
“I have to admit, I often feel attracted to the fixed mindset idea – choosing things that are in my comfort zone, where I know that I can succeed without a high risk of failure.”
Because, Media-X is in the software business – an area of stiff competition, ever changing technologies and new opportunities. Our staff, have shown me on many occasions what a growth mindset looks like, and likewise I have encouraged them in their efforts to persevere against obstacles, challenges and set-backs. It takes a lot of effort, and a belief that with enough hard-work and dedication, good things will flow out of a situation that, at first, seems like a failure.
I’ve witnessed this first-hand many times, and seen a variation of the growth mindset at Media-X. This is the growth mindset of an entire team, who work together to solve extremely difficult problems, using the problem itself as a way of extending their knowledge and skills, and accomplishing what they at first thought was impossible. The whole team grows, as individuals encourage others on the team to think in new ways.
In Dweck’s research with elementary school children, she found those with a fixed mindset wanted to make sure they succeeded at all costs. Children with a growth mindset, were more interested in learning new things, constantly choosing problems they couldn’t solve in order to learn new strategies. The harder the task, the more they wanted to try it.
Growth comes from failure. Learn from it, but never let it slow you down.