We look at other people who are successful in business and call them fortunate, well-connected, or just plain lucky. We publicly admire them, but often secretly envy them. They live life on their own terms and in their own way and seem to get what they want when they want it. They are really no different than you or I. Hard to believe, isn’t it. Well, it’s true in most cases.

Successful people have simply learned to look at the world in a different way. In fact, the way they look at the world is the complete opposite of how unsuccessful people look at the world. Successful people have what is called a “growth mindset” while the outlook of unsuccessful people is called a “fixed mindset”.

A growth mindset means you:

  • believe intelligence is something that can be developed throughout a lifetime
  • embrace challenges and work to overcome obstacles in your way
  • are willing to accept criticism and own your mistakes
  • admire others for their success and view their success as an opportunity to learn
  • believe in yourself and believe that brains and talent are just the starting point
  • learn from your mistakes
  • believe you can learn anything you want to
  • see the effort of learning a new skill set as worthwhile
  • seek out and incorporate new information in your decision-making

A fixed mindset means you:

  • believe intelligence is static and can never change
  • dread challenges and work to avoid obstacles
  • blame others, events or circumstances for poor results
  • envy others and think they have a special edge or advantage you don’t have
  • believe that talent alone, without effort, creates success
  • repeat the same mistakes
  • avoid trying new things so you don’t risk failure
  • see the effort of learning a new skill set as a waste of time
  • reject new information or evidence in your decision-making

This difference in mindset explains why talent doesn’t guarantee success, but can instead, stand in the way of it. Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, once said, “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and the nonlearners.”

With a fixed mindset, it’s not enough to succeed. Because the fixed mindset believes you either have “it” or you don’t, success means you are pretty much flawless. And right away.

We are born with the characteristics of a growth mindset.

As babies, we learn and grow everyday. We didn’t stop trying to walk and talk because we made mistake after mistake. We kept at it until we walked and we talked.

Life happens to all of us. A million things happen to dampen our enthusiasm and drive on the way to becoming adults. Each of us has experienced setbacks, disappointments, heartaches and tragedies. Maybe what we had as infants wasn’t as conscious a choice as adopting a growth mindset feels now, but we sure achieved some lofty goals! That’s evidence that a growth mindset is what it takes to succeed and achieve our goals.