You know that person who seems to have it all? Fame, fortune, talent? Success seems to come effortlessly for them. The truth is that there is more going on than what we can perceive at first glance. When striving for the achievement of our goals, failure is often “not an option” as they say. There is a flaw with this mindset, yet, how do you grow without failure? The goal shouldn’t be to try not to fail, it should be to learn from your mistakes. Are the great successes of our time blessed with innate talent? Is there something we seem to be missing? Being raised in a “results-oriented” world we tend to emphasize only on the outcomes. Thinking this way can often end up creating results that are less than ideal. Is the way we are looking at the world and ourselves limiting our potential?

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

It’s easy to get discouraged when you see other people out there who are successful. We tend to assume that some people have talent and others do not. We may make blanket statements to ourselves, “Wow, they are a natural.” Sure, some people are quite skilled. More often than not the fruits of one’s labor came from their focused effort and a growth mindset. We cannot see the hours of practice. We do not have knowledge of their demoralizing failures. The challenges they encountered on their rise to the top are not obvious to the outsider. It’s sort of like that one Facebook friend who always seems to be out on fantastic vacations. What’s going on with that? Is that a job? As a kid, if you were fortunate your friends and family cheered you on. They said things like “You are one smart kid!” or “You are a natural athlete.”. These compliments are well intended, but the trouble is they focus only on ability. Stanford Professors studied two groups of children. One group received praise for ability and the other praise for effort. The study found that children praised for effort were likely to exhibit persistence, determination, and grit. The ability group seemed to get frustrated and give up when faced with challenges. Why might this be? Focusing on ability doesn’t result in long term effort. It leaves little room for improvement and persistence. It’s important to congratulate yourself for showing up. It emphasizes trying as opposed to a fixed attribute. The effort is what gets us where we want to go; abilities only give us a short boost.

Be a Grower Not a Show’er

The idea of a Growth Mindset is one that suggests our abilities and talents are not fixed values. Adopting a Growth oriented Mindset is the most important ingredient for your personal development and success. Author Peter C. Brown stated in his work “Make it Stick”:
“Whether you believe intelligence is fixed at birth or it is malleable, scientists are discovering you’re right.”
The belief that one’s abilities are set at birth provide little room for growth. Thinking this way gives you little to work with. The deck is already stacked and you can’t win. It turns out thinking the sky is the limit creates space for potential. This is the mindset needed if you ever expect to excel in any area in life.

If At First You Don’t Succeed – Learn

There are several ways to learn from our past experiences and grow in any given area. The key to a growth mindset is believing that with effort you can build your skills and abilities. Failure is an essential ally in growth as it teaches us what works and what doesn’t. Spend time evaluating your successes and your failures. Remove luck and talent from the equation, what you may find leftover is valuable experience. Our view on success and abilities can have unexpected outcomes on our development. When you see someone who is successful, know that it took them many failures to get to where they are. As you go about your day to day life, remember that it’s the effort that counts. It’s your effort that will get you to where you want to go. Believing in your abilities only gets you so far. When push comes to shove talent offers little aid in persistence. Have a growth mindset. Believe that you can improve in any area of your life. Begin to make informed hypothesizes that you can test. Find out what is working well and what isn’t, use the results to continue moving forward and keep growing. We have to give ourselves more recognition for our attempts as showing up is half the battle. Please share this article with someone you know who is trying to improve in their life.