What does “success” mean to you, and how do you know if you’ve reached it? This article will compare success in the fixed mindset with success in the growth mindset. For more information about growth mindset, we highly recommend you read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck.
What is a growth mindset?
Having a growth mindset means, at its core, that you believe skills, talents, and intelligence can be developed through hard work and consistent effort. The opposite, a fixed mindset, is the belief that you are given a certain amount of intelligence or ability and you can’t really change what you are and are not good at. It sounds obvious which mindset will lead to more success, right? But let’s look at how these two mindsets differ when it comes to failure, success, and effort.
The relationship between failure and success.
We all fail at things all the time. We make mistakes, we forget deadlines, we don’t meet our goals or don’t live up to others’ expectations. In a fixed mindset, success is the opposite of failure. The two things are mutually exclusive. In a growth mindset, success is what happens when you push through your failures; when you learn from them to improve or change. In a fixed mindset, someone who is behind on their sales for the quarter would label themselves as “incompetent,” “idiotic,” or “ineffective.” Have you ever had that thought that you were “a failure?” These labels, indeed, all labels, are a product of a fixed mindset.
“Good salespeople are not allowed to fail. Good salespeople increase their numbers every quarter, every year, forever. If I have any setbacks, I am just not cut out for insurance sales.” Am I giving voice to your thoughts, here? Then it’s time to change your mindset! If your idea of success includes 0% failure, you will never achieve success.
In a growth mindset, failures are feedback. People with a growth mindset are reflective about their work and eager to learn more. They do not define themselves in comparison with others. A final expense or preneed insurance agent who has a growth mindset would see that not meeting their goals for the quarter was a form of feedback for them. They would sit down, analyze their performance, techniques, hours, and so on, and commit work harder in the next quarter.
What is success?
So, what is success, if it’s not the opposite of failure? Each person defines success for themselves, but with a growth mindset, success will include learning, changing, growing, and making honest efforts. People in a growth mindset embrace challenges and use setbacks to sharpen their skills. They do not fear judgement from others based on their performance; in fact, they rely on others to teach them, give constructive criticism, and bolster their skills.
Truly successful people are grateful for their failures because they learn from them. Michael Jordan, possibly the most “successful” basketball player ever, demonstrates the growth mindset and the relationship between success and failure in this quote:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”