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The single most important factor influencing a person’s success — whether personal or professional — is mindset. What you think about consistently has a direct impact on your behavior, and not the other way around. So, it’s important to get this fundamental ingredient right.

A seemingly small thing that makes a huge difference, mindset accounts for the primary distinction between those who succeed and those who do not. And, if you are serious about achieving success in any area of your life, you must learn to master yours.

What Is a Mindset?

A mindset refers to whether you believe qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits.

  • People with a fixed mindset believe that these qualities are inborn, fixed, and unchangeable.
  • Those with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that these abilities can be developed and strengthened by way of commitment and hard work.

Why Mindsets Matter

Your mindset plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges. In school, a growth mindset can contribute to greater achievement and increased effort. When facing a problem such as trying to find a new job, people with growth mindsets show greater resilience. They are more likely to persevere in the face of setbacks while those with fixed mindsets are more liable to give up.

Fixed mindsets, Dweck explains, tend to create a need for approval. “I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships,” Dweck explains in her book Mindset. “Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”

Growth mindsets, on the other hand, result in hunger for learning. A desire to work hard and discover new things. To tackle challenges and grow as a person. When people with a growth mindset try and fail, they tend not to view it as a failure or disappointment. Instead, it is a learning experience that can lead to growth and change.

How Does a Mindset Form?

Dweck suggests that many people are trained in the two types of mindsets early in life, often through the way they are raised or their experiences in school.

Fixed Mindsets

  • Children who are taught that they should look smart instead of loving learning tend to develop a fixed mindset.
  • They become more concerned with how they are being judged and fear that they might not live up to expectations.

Growth Mindsets

  • Kids who are taught to explore, embrace new experiences, and enjoy challenges are more likely to develop a growth mindset.
  • Rather than seeing mistakes as setbacks, they are willing to try new things and make errors all in the name of learning and achieving their potential.

Dweck notes that having a growth mindset doesn’t involve believing that anyone can become anything they want with enough education and effort. Not everyone can become Einstein or Mozart just because they try.

Instead, the growth mindset is about living up to one’s possible potential. This potential, however, is never really knowable. Who knows how far a person can go if they set their mind to it? People with a growth mindset believe that the effort that goes into learning and deepening one’s understanding and talents is well worth all the toil and trouble.

Here are five key reasons why.

1. Developing healthy self-esteem

To successfully accomplish any worthwhile feat, a person must first feel capable of achieving it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Self-esteem is born of an internal dialogue that informs how we perceive and evaluate our worth, positively or negatively. It also frames our self-concept (the comprehensive view we have about ourselves). 

Mindset — a strong and positive one — is essential to developing healthy self-esteem. It is an important tool that affects our daily self-dialogue and reinforces our most intimate beliefs, attitudes and feelings about ourselves. So, become the gatekeeper of your mind and plant seeds of positivity and inspiration rather than criticism and doubt.

2. Formulating a winning perspective

When it comes to success, there are few things more valuable than perspective. How we choose to attach meaning to events and circumstances has a profound effect on whether we view our glass as half full or half empty. Tony Robbins is famous for his viewpoint on this topic, noting, “Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning [we] give it.” Touché.

The truth is that mindset has everything to do with perspective. Our foundational beliefs, attitudes and biases naturally affect the way we process information and experience the world around us. Having an optimistic mindset increases the likelihood of formulating a winning perspective and achieving long-term success.

3. Harnessing drive

Drive is the unwavering determination to achieve an important objective. It includes the process of developing a vision for success and engaging in sustained effort over time. Without drive, achieving most goals would be difficult at best.

Mindset is critical to drive. With the power to direct focus and encourage commitment to higher purpose, it can easily urge someone to challenge the status quo and push past comfort zones. People with drive are self-motivated and strive to accomplish more. They don’t waste time complaining about their circumstances, but instead work with conviction to improve them.

4. Facing adversity

No matter what goal you seek to achieve, the path to your success is bound to include some degree of adversity. If you want to get through the rough patches, however, you will need to develop a thick skin and learn to face each challenge head on. 

This is where mindset plays a critical role. Adversity tests one’s mettle to the core. After facing an extreme hardship, a person may feel justified in succumbing to defeat. For them, it can feel like an easy road. Yet, the capacity to move through the fire, get knocked down and not knocked out, is a true testament to the power of a resilient mindset.

5. Achieving the underlying goal

Goal-setting is a multi-faceted process, with achievement being the most obvious indicator of success. Nevertheless, without the proper mindset, you may not get that far. An undertaking that easily eludes even the most well-intentioned individuals, achieving a goal requires more than a mere lukewarm desire to succeed.

Mindset is where the rubber meets the road. Taken a step further, mental toughness is what determines whether someone will dig deep and work through hardships to succeed, or simply claim defeat. It includes exercising courage, sustaining effort over long periods and leveraging self-talk to move through each pivotal phase, before ultimately accomplishing the underlying goal.

Are you ready to command your results? If so, make a conscious decision to master your mindset and reach for greater success in the new year and beyond.

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