What do you believe? Chances are at some point in your life you have answered this question. Perhaps it was in relation to a specific idea or topic, but in general you have probably at least once in your life had to share your beliefs and maybe even defend them.
And there is probably an even better chance that what you believe isn't exactly what I believe. Which is awesome! Personal differences and perspectives is what makes this world interesting.
I mean just think about how boring every interaction would be if the other person had no other input besides, "Yeah man totally!"
It would be awful! And painfully boring to have a conversation about anything.
It's also true that our beliefs are shaped through our individual experiences. They are molded by a multitude of forces such as your family, parenting styles, your geographic location, having or not having siblings, schools attended, teachers you had, sports you played, coaches you played under, and jobs held.
I know there might be some who argue that there isn't a driving force or explanation for every belief, but I don't count myself in that camp.
For instance from my experience meeting and working with a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds I believe that our beliefs all are reactions, explanations, or observations that we create in response to our life experiences.
The sum of our beliefs make up our mindset. They define how we approach interacting with others, why we live where we do, why we do the work we do, why we choose the spouse we married, and many more just as important and unimportant aspects of life.
This makes beliefs powerful things because they deeply impact our daily lives, the choices we make, and how we handle and interpret the consequences of our choices.
For example we know from experimental research that the ability to discipline one's self and regulate behavior is a limited psychological resource. The more decisions we have to make the more we drain this resource. This leads to what researchers term "decision fatigue" and leads us to have compromised decision-making processes and poor judgement.
However while this is no doubt true and has been demonstrated many times over there is more recent research that suggest if you can get someone to believe the opposite about their will power and self-discipline you can actually counteract some of this "decision fatigue." That is if you can convince someone to believe the narrative that their self-discipline and will power actually grows with each good decision they make you can in fact improve the outcomes of their decisions for a longer period of time.
Or put in another way our mindset is vitally important to our life's success and health as an individual.
I am probably not the first to share this idea with you. I will bet that many of you heard old adages growing up just like me that iterate this same ideal. Some that were most common in my house growing up were:
You get out of what it what you put into it.
Attitude determines altitude.
I know they are cliche and they have been probably overused to the point of exhaustion, but the fact is they are true. I know this from personal experience in school, business, and personal relationships. But I also know it because it's by proven in a lot of scientific research.
Our beliefs which dictate our mindset strongly influence how we choose to live our lives, what tasks and challenges we undertake, and how we handle and interpret success and failure.
Our mindset and believes then are things that we should be monitoring closely, reevaluating constantly, and altering them when it is warranted.
The question then in my mind becomes well then what is the best mindset that yields the happiest and most successful people? What beliefs do they hold that influence this mindset? How does my current mindset differ from that? How do I change my mindset and thus my beliefs?
These are questions that a research by the name of Carol Dweck has literally spent her professional career trying to answer and come up with.
A quick google scholar search of her name will show you over 5,000 results and most have to do with something regarding mindset, motivation, beliefs, or cognitive psychology. I guess then you can say she is definitely an authority on the topic.
However she released a book in 2006 called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that gives a really great summary and explanation of the conclusions from her over twenty years of research into the area of mindset and beliefs.
Many people have cited this book as the reason for their success and one of the most influential books for their personal development and growth. While I myself cannot make that same assertion because the book did not necessarily change my ways, but rather reaffirmed my beliefs, gave me a scientific basis for their usefulness, and brought out an idea that was innate to my person and made it a much more concrete idea I would highly recommend you purchasing the book and reading it.
You'll never regret it.
Dweck explains in her book that through her research she came to identify to different mindsets among the majority of the population that are on opposite ends of the mindset continuum.
The Fixed-Mindset and the Growth-Mindset.
You probably can infer the defining characteristics of each mindset just from seeing their names, but let me explain each a bit.
A Growth Mindset is made up by the belief that while each person has their own unique talents, interests, aptitudes, and temperaments each person has the ability to develop their abilities and skills through application and feedback.
As Dweck puts it:
This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.
This belief and mindset allow individuals to handle adversity positively and learn from set backs. It turns challenges into opportunities. It allows individuals to rise to the occasion and become better people.
Dweck describes the hallmark of the growth mindset as:
The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
Deck found that the most successful people almost always had these beliefs and approached life with a growth mindset. She found it allowed them to be resilient, adaptable, coachable, and open to new ideas.
However where there is good there is also bad. Ah such is the duality of life.
The second mindset Dweck identified was the fixed-mindset. This mindset is created by the belief that our abilities and skills are fixed qualities that cannot be changed or altered, but rather managed. It holds that we are born with and without certain characteristics and thus have built-in limitations.
Dweck describes it as the following:
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone . . .
This kind of mindset forces people into a box and puts them in the position to be constantly defending the area within that box. It discourages trying to new things and learning new skills. It creates a constant pressure to prove oneself over and over again. It makes challenges and adversity negative things that represent judgements waiting to be passed on your self-worth.
Dweck says it best:
. . . creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character— well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics . . . 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?
I know which mindset most closely represents my beliefs.
I know which mindset I have.
I know which mindset will lead to the most success.
The question though I have for you is do you recognize your own mindset in either of these descriptions?
Do you view every situation as a "test" of your abilities and character? Do you believe your abilities and traits to be fixed and unchangeable?
Or do you find yourself constantly looking for opportunities to learn new skills, take on challenging concepts, and grow both mentally and physically?
Finding out it imperative to your future. This is because it may just be your very beliefs and mindset that is holding you back from having the things you want and living the life you have always desired.
This is particularly important when it comes to changing your lifestyle to improve your health and get leaner, stronger, and healthier.
Change is hard. But it is even harder if you don't believe you can do it.
If you need to eat more veggies, but have a strong belief that you just aren't a "vegetable person" chances are you aren't going to eat more veggies. If you believe that drinking more water is a matter of just being disciplined and you believe you just are a disciplined person chances are you aren't going to drink more water.
And even more if you see these changes are challenges of which the outcomes determine whether you are a discipline person, successful person, healthy person, or whatever other cable you have in your head and you believe you won't succeed at them then likely you won't even bother undertaking them.
Or as the Henry Ford put it, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- your right."
These kinds of beliefs represent the fixed mindset.
This mindset is holding you back. It's preventing you from growing as a person and actually experiencing everything that is wonderful about life.
Instead you have to be growth mindset oriented. You have to see yourself as a constantly learning, adapting, and changing organism. Change is something to embrace. It's an opportunity for you to learn something new, get better at a skill, and achieve the very things you want.
The mindset of success is the mindset of growth.
If you do recognize yourself as having a fixed mindset know that it is okay! You aren't doomed.
Carol Dweck herself was a self described fixed mindset person for many years growing up. And most of the time like in Carol's case this was not her fault and isn't yours either. Many times this mindset is the expression of beliefs we have formed in reaction to how others spoke to and treated us. It is a mindset that comes from being praised for fixed attributes and outcomes rather than effort and process.
This isn't an uncommon practice and it's wreaking havoc on a lot of people. You can hear the fixed mindset in people and it being passed along to others in the way people speak such as:
You're so smart!
You are such a kind hearted person!
Way to go you got an A! You have to be super intelligent.
Chances are you have either been told, heard, or said something like the above before. We all do it. Some more than others and all of us without ever realizing it is one influence the person we are speaking to to believe that being smart is an innate ability and that outcomes of challenges confirm or deny this ability. It also clearly demonstrates our own belies about such things.
The good news is that you can change your mindset, but to do so you have to change your beliefs.
But to change your beliefs you have to first be aware of what you currently believe and be mindful of how those beliefs are currently impacting your life.
You have to be able to recognize when that fixed mindset begins speaking negative thoughts and emotions into your mind. You have to be aware when you begin framing outcomes as confirmations rather than feedback.
Once you are mindful of this you can being to reorient your thoughts and beliefs about your interactions with others, your failures and successes, and subsequently how you view yourself as a person.
It won't happen overnight. It will take time. It will take practice. And you won't always be perfect at it.
But it may just be the deciding factor at whether or not you decide to take on that extra responsibility at work that will lead to a promotion or if you will decide to pick up a new exercise habit and start losing the weight you have been carrying around since college.
Thus I call you to action!
Identify your current mindset.
Determine if it's contributing to your success or taking away from it.
Finally decide if you need to make a mindset change.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
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