How You Can Learn to Fulfill Your Potential

Written by on Saturday May 18, 2013

Ever catch yourself thinking about someone and saying: “he’s a natural,” or “she’s a lot smarter than me,” or “that person is so much more experienced than I am”?
Even worse, have you ever said: “I don’t have that in me.” Most of us have. Be assured: those others have learned their skills somewhere along the line and you can too – but only if you believe that’s within you!
Carol Dweck is a world-renowned psychologist at Stanford University. I saw her speak a few days ago in Chicago about her book, Mindset: The Psychology of Success (2010). From her book, I have learned much more about why some people do get what they want in life and so many do not.
Her decades of research has found that there are essentially two mindsets (fixed and growth) that people have about intelligence and other skills and talents (such as business, artistic, sporting ability etc.). A mindset is a powerful belief.
Which do you believe?
“Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.” OR
“No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.”
The key word is belief. Since all our results come from our beliefs, Dweck tells us that we have to change that first. If you believe that you might reveal your inadequacies by taking risks, experiencing initially weak results, and working hard, you won’t do what is needed to get the great results you desire.
On the other hand, if you believe that your qualities can be developed, that “leads to a host of different thoughts and actions.” These new actions can move you in the right direction.
The good news is you can change your mindset/belief in these areas to get better results. It starts with simply knowing about the two different mindsets and then thinking and reacting in new ways.
Fixed mindset: If I have to work hard, it makes me feel like I’m not smart.
Growth mindset: The harder I work, the better I get.
The fixed mindset is afraid of challenges and sees failure as making a mistake – as revealing that you are not perfect and smart all the time. That mindset believes effort is only for those who do not have the ability.
The growth mindset sees failure as growing (learning) and struggle as part of that process.
Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to travel faster than sound said:
“There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot. Whatever my aptitude or talents, becoming a proficient pilot was hard work, really a lifetime’s learning experience. The best pilots fly more than others; that’s why they’re the best.”
I cannot emphasize how profound this is. Without a growth mindset, you will never be more successful in an area where you are currently stuck or unhappy. As Dweck said to her audience in Chicago:
“There is nothing worthwhile in life that doesn’t take tremendous effort.”
Author: Matt Anderson, The Referral Authority, Author of Fearless Referrals Copyright 2011.


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