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Can your mindset explain your successes or failures?

Why do some people always seem to succeed in whatever they tackle and other always seem to fail? How unfair is this? Some other people succeed or fail only in specific areas of their lives too. How can that be possible?

You might call it luck. Science talks of mindset, as if some people had a success-oriented mindset and others were setting themselves for failure. But what do we mean by mindset? Dr Gary Klein defines it as ‘a belief that orients the way we handle situations—the way we sort out what is going on and what we should do.[1]

In other words, what we believe affects our performance in achieving our goals and fulfilling our dreams. This is quite serious because if we could change our beliefs, maybe we could change our achievements? A belief is the acceptance that something exists or is true. It is based on our experiences of the world as children and the generalisations we made of them. If your parents considered that you have to work hard to be successful or if you were faced with a few major challenges when you were a young child, you might have developed a mindset that “success is hard to achieve”.

Carol Dweck[2] identified two types of mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your personal attributes (i.e. your character and other personality traits) are hardwired in your brain and cannot be altered. On the other hand, if you have a growth mindset, you hold the firm belief that you can get better in life by focusing on learning new things to become more skilled and eventually succeed.

The real challenge is to find out whether someone with a fixed mindset can change and develop a growth mindset. Fortunately, the answer is YES!

[1] In Mindsets, What they are and why they matter. – Psychology Today, May 2016 [2] In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Dec. 2007

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