Shaping Your Mindset to Create Success

I often find myself explaining to a young generation that “back in my day,” people used to fail. Can you imagine that? In a world chock-full of participation trophies, self-esteem management, and protectionist parenting, the word “failure” is a dirty word. We are a success-crazed society. But if we’re honest, we realize that our own failures have likely been our greatest source of self-realization.

Failing and learning breeds competence and independence. It forces us to face authentic sources of motivation. Protecting our children from their own failures or their own lack of motivation breeds complacency and entitlement. How can you avoid these parenting pitfalls? Read on!

Can I raise my child to be a competent member of society? Can I show them how to function independently, succeed in life, and avoid mistakes and failures?

We love our kids. We see their potential and want them to succeed. Yet the road to Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose* is crowded with media noise and plenty of bad advice.  While challenging our kids to do their best, we must guard ourselves from the anxiety surrounding academic, athletic, and social competition. Results matter – and so does effort. Teaching kids to recognize their own potential and to self-evaluate the quality of their own effort is essential. They must learn to self-evaluate the quality of their work if they are to succeed. However, they can’t do this alone. As parents, we must teach them, often by example. By doing this, we raise balanced, responsible, and gracious adults. Adopting a ‘fail and learn’ mindset is the cornerstone of development.

What is a ‘fail and learn’ mindset and why is it important?

Your beliefs about yourself – your talents, intelligence, and abilities – make up your mindset. People tend to be in one of two groups: the “fixed mindset” folks and the “growth mindset” individuals. (Spoiler alert – the growth mindset group is the happier and nimbler team!)

People with a “growth mindset” are the most resilient and the most successful. These folks believe that intelligence, talent, and ability are qualities they develop with work, focus, and time. They believe they can stretch themselves to do more and accomplish more.  Additionally, they realize that failing is part of learning. They tackle a challenge, continue to work on tough problems, and master difficult material in route to gaining success. For this group, repeating a mistake is infinitely worse than making a mistake.

Conversely, the “fixed mindset” person believes they have what they have. They consider intelligence, talent, and ability to be a constant. The “fixed mindset” group does not believe they can significantly add to their deck of life cards. Fixed mindset people think “I can’t do the tough problems” or “I’m not smart enough.” They don’t spend the time and effort on focused improvement.

Grappling with challenging problems enhances cognition and encodes material into long-term memory. Spoon-feeding information to students doesn’t actually help them in the long run. Instead, studies have shown much more positive outcomes when people solve problems in their “desirable difficulty” sweet spot.

As Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset, wrote, “The hallmark of successful individual is that they love learning, they seek challenges, they value effort, and they persist in the face of obstacles.”

If you’d like to know more about how to encourage a growth mindset in yourself or in your children, tune in next week when we post the second part of this blog. In Part 2, we will discuss the gift of failure, the greatest predictor of success, and the “Holy Grail” of parenting. So join us next week to learn more!

*Want to know more about Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose*? Check out Daniel Pink’s DRIVE.

Leave A Comment