Overcome the beliefs that limit your potential.
Success and happiness are all about mindset. What you think, you become.
Your mindset doesn’t just affect how you see the world. It shapes your responses and actions, even if you don’t realize it.
Developing the right mindset is crucial to succeeding in anything. Here’s how to upgrade yours.
What is a mindset?
A mindset is a frame of mind. It’s the sum of beliefs, opinions, and thoughts that you formed about the world and yourself. Think of your mindset as a lens through which you filter reality.
Our education, religion, upbringing, and experience shape our beliefs and thoughts. That’s why our mindset is a fixed state of mind — we have our mind “set.” Thus, it determines how you perceive and react to specific events.
Napoleon Hill said, “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge. Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.”
Mindsets can change, but they tend to change slowly. It’s easier to correct our attitude than our mindset.
An attitude is a short-term reaction shaped by our mindset. It is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something specific.
A mindset is a collection of beliefs and thoughts that shape your thought habits. They impact how you make sense of the world (and yourself).
Attitudes have a short-term impact. That’s why they are easier to modify. Our mindsets are deeply ingrained in our beliefs and it requires extra effort to change them.
Your mindset predetermines your interpretations and responses. It shapes your relationship with the world and with yourself. Choose your mindset wisely; you can create positive consequences instead of negative ones.
Mindsets liberate or limit our potential
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” ― Steve Maraboli
When we think about mindset, most people think about the Growth versus Fixed Mindset. But that’s just one angle.
Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, took education and business by storm. It told a good, simple story.
Dweck suggested that our beliefs about our own intelligence determine our ability to learn.
A Fixed Mindset is the belief that our qualities are fixed traits that we cannot change. People with this mindset believe that talent alone leads to success.
A Growth Mindset, conversely, is believing that our intelligence can grow with time and experience. This mindset encourages us to put in extra time — effort leads to higher achievement.
A Fixed Mindset limits our capacity for learning, whereas a Growth Mindset helps us reach our full potential.
However, this concept is far from perfect. Some experts think that we need to go beyond the limits of the growth mindset. Others question the validity of growth mindset interventions.
In my case, I worry that the Growth Mindset craze has oversimplified the notion of mindset. Binary thinking limits the conversation. We are left with two options: we either have a Growth or a Fixed mindset.
My point is not to challenge Dueck’s theory, but to amplify your view. Mindsets are lenses we use to explore our reality. I want to encourage you to discover other types of mindsets beyond the Growth one.
Our mindsets create two effects on us: they either limit or liberate our potential.
The lenses we use affect how we deal with our emotions. A negative mindset can amplify our negative feelings and get us stuck in rumination.
For example, binary thinking forces us to consider only two possibilities. We think in terms of ‘one thing’ or ‘the other’ and see things through a right or wrong lens.
Understanding that there are many mindsets is vital. You’ll become more aware of the lenses that you apply to reality.
The mindset you use can make things clearer or cloud your perception.
Before you change your mindset…
Let’s analyze the most frequent types of mindset. This is not an exhaustive list but a starting point to help you reflect on the lenses you use.
As part of my work helping organizations upgrade their mindsets, teams capture what limits or liberates their high performance. The following are the mindsets that arise most frequently when facilitating the Cultural Tensions Canvas.
Right or Wrong?
We love being right. The trouble with this mindset is that we stop paying attention to other perspectives. Instead of learning, we just care about winning the argument.
‘Confirmation Bias’ is the tendency we have to embrace information that supports our beliefs. Wanting to be right makes us reject facts that might illuminate our views.
Victim versus Accountable?
Self-pity is a dangerous choice. When we play the victim, we lose control of our life. Instead of taking action, we blame others for the things that go wrong.
Playing the victim role is a lose-lose situation. No-one will come to rescue us. Life requires that we own our actions.
Comparing to others versus being your own standard?
There will always be someone doing better or worse than ourselves. When we compare to others, we invite jealousy and envy to poison our lives.
Comparisons are deceiving. Recover control by becoming your own standard. Focus on your progress, not on someone else’s status.
Scarcity versus Abundance?
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains that when we apply a scarcity lens, we compete for available resources. Even when these resources are in abundance, our mindset imprisons us.
An abundance mindset is based on the belief that there’s enough for everyone. This paradigm is grounded in generosity and self-worth.
Stuck to the past versus open to the future?
The past can keep us imprisoned if we don’t learn to let go of painful experiences. Even positive experiences can hold us hostage.
Living on past glories limits our ability to enjoy the present. We must make room for new experiences.
Saying “No” versus “Yes, and”
Too many “noes” kills creativity. However, that’s our usual answer when introduced to new ideas. We say no, before even considering their potential.
We are trained to reject uncertainty and new concepts. Creativity requires a “Yes, and” mindset. Rather than blocking the conversation, amplify creativity by building on others’ ideas.
Divide versus Unite?
There are two ways to lead people. One is by creating an enemy and leading a crusade to conquer it. Another is finding a shared purpose, and inspiring people to be part of something bigger than themselves.
The divide-and-conquer paradigm creates life or death situations. We turn everyone into an enemy. Alternatively, the unite-and-build mindset brings out the best in people. It encourages collaboration and participation.
Reactive versus proactive?
Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say or do. They don’t control their choices. And let their circumstances control them instead.
Proactive people don’t waste their energy or time. They focus on what they can manage, think through scenarios, prioritize, and focus on the future. A proactive mindset puts you in control.
Fearful versus fearless?
Seeing life through a fear lens is intimidating. Fear will always get in our way.
Adopting a courageous mindset is vital to achieving greatness.
Being successful requires adopting a fearless mindset. Courage does not mean the absence of fear, but to face our fear. We move forward in spite of our fears.
Avoidance versus facing reality?
Complaining when things go wrong doesn’t change anything. Rather than running away from reality, accept it.
An avoidance mindset gets us stuck complaining about what went wrong or don’t like. Rather than fighting reality, face it. Upgrade your mindset. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It’s a necessary step to move forward.
How to upgrade your mindset for success
1. Become more aware of your mindsets
Accept that your thinking needs adjustment.
Start by increasing awareness of your emotional state. When you react to a situation or before making a decision, which lens are you using to see reality?
Are you adopting a perfectionist mindset? Or a me-me-me one (and think that the world revolves around you)?
Reflect on how your mindset affects your view. If your mindset is negative, how can you reframe it into a positive one?
2. Avoid seeing reality in binary terms
Most mindsets are deceiving. They force us to see the world in black and white terms.
Binary thinking creates a false dilemma. We act as if there are only two possible options when they are actually more.
Challenge your binary thinking. Avoid the tendency to split all the things into two categories: black and white, either-or, right or wrong.
Binary thinking is not always bad. Sometimes it can help. Sometimes it is necessary. But, in most cases, it’s just a shortcut — a form of generalization. Not everything fits into one of two categories.
3. Reflect on your beliefs
Our mindsets are deeply-ingrained in our beliefs. To change our mindset, we must first examine our belief-system.
What’s holding you back? Are your beliefs supporting you or limiting you? Identify the beliefs that are helpful and work on those that are not.
Religion and politics are perfect examples of this. There’s nothing wrong with your ideology but, most people take it to an extreme. They reject anything or anyone that doesn’t agree with their beliefs.
4. (re)Define your purpose in life
We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. What’s your life’s purpose? Find your ‘why.’
What does success mean to you? There’s a difference between achieving success and being successful. Achieving success is about reaching a specific destination. Being successful is a state of mind — it’s about appreciating the journey.
Create your own measure of success. What mindsets will help you get there? Select the lenses that will help you achieve your higher mission in life.
Finding your life’s purpose is not about the destination. It’s all about the journey.
5. Turn limiting mindsets into liberating ones.
Challenge your existing mindsets. Go back to the analysis you did on point 1.
What are the mindsets that are not helping you? Changing your mindsets is not easy, but it’s worth the effort.
We are creatures of habit. Our mindsets take a long time to develop. Upgrading them requires replacing a pattern with a new one.
Your mindset is a lens that filters your reality. Upgrade your mindset. Turn limiting beliefs into liberating ones.