Your mindset determines how successful you will become in every aspect of your life.

If you want to become a professional athlete or millionaire entrepreneur but don’t think it can happen, it probably won’t happen. The wrong mindset can produce limiting beliefs about yourself and your abilities. 

Most people think it takes hard work, talent, or a combination of both to fulfill their potential. While those are important, having the right mindset makes it all possible. Without it, you won’t take the action you need to make your goals a reality. 


Photo Credit: Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

How you were raised and what you were taught as a child has a huge impact on your mindset today. The problem is that most people let their beliefs and thoughts go unchecked. You might have a specific mindset that you don’t’ even notice because it’s subconscious at this point in your life.

But if you want to make big changes in some areas of your life, start by evaluating your current mindset. Begin to understand how you feel about success by figuring out which mindset you currently have.

The two types of mindsets

As Carol Dweck points out in the best-selling book Mindset, there are two main types: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

Here’s the difference between the two:

1. Fixed mindset

A fixed mindset, as implied, means you are fixed about your beliefs. You don’t respond to failure or change well. If something goes wrong you come up with excuses like “I am just not smart enough” or “I have always been bad at that so I always will be.”

A fixed mindset is limiting, it doesn’t allow growth and fosters a negative attitude toward failure and learning. It doesn’t allow you to even get close to fulfilling your potential, in any area of life. Luckily, you can learn to shift to a growth mindset over time. 

2. Growth mindset

A growth mindset is the exact opposite of the fixed mindset. With a growth mindset, you think that nothing is impossible. You have a learning mentality and respond to failures as learning moments instead of associating yourself with being a failure. 

With a growth mindset, you think you have the ability to cultivate and change your situations. Problems are temporary roadblocks, not permanent structures. People with growth mindsets tend to be more optimistic and feel that they can change radically. 

Some of the most successful people in the world like Oprah Winfrey or elite athletes choose to have a growth mindset. You need a growth mindset so you can get past failures, challenges, and objections so you can reach your biggest goals.

Here are two ways that a fixed mindset can limit your potential:

Mindsets change the meaning of failureThomas Edison quotes - Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up

How do you view failure? Do you think of failure and say “I am a failure” or “I failed?” If you answered with the first then you have a fixed mindset, the latter is a growth mindset.

Humans fail all the time, in all aspects of life. When you start using negative self-talk like “I am a failure,” it becomes part of your identity. In reality, you probably failed at one thing (didn’t the job promotion, missed a deadline at work) and are not actually a failure.

When you have a fixed mindset with the meaning of failure you have no real option to improve the situation. Instead, failure means you lack competence or potential, you have nowhere to go but dwell on your failure. When has that ever helped? 

By saying “I am a failure” you make the failed moment part of your identity when it’s just not true. Instead say, “I failed” and figure out how you can learn from it. Failure can be painful for someone with either mindset, but people with a growth mindset don’t let a failure be the defining moment.

Remember, failing is part of the process to become successful. No one ever achieved anything great without failing. Success is not linear, it’s part of the journey to success.

Imagine if people like Thomas Edison or Jack Canfield had fixed mindsets. Thomas Edison  failed 10,000 times before he created the light bulb. Jack Canfield was rejected by 150 publishers before publishing the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. If they had a fixed mindset, they would have given up quickly and never produced their amazing work. 

As the legendary motivational speaker Les Brown said: “You have to fail your way to success.”


Mindset can affect your effort levels

Mindset also plays a huge role in the amount of effort you put into anything. With a fixed mindset, you don’t think that you need effort, everything should be easy and effortless. If you have to try hard then you probably aren’t that good.

If you’ve ever gotten good at anything in life, you know this isn’t true. Hard work is part of the process as well as failure. Effort can also be terrifying to those with a fixed mindset as you have no excuses if you try and fail. A fixed mindset sets yourself up to not have a way to cope if you put in the effort but still fall short of your goal. 

But if you have a growth mindset, you understand that effort is the only way to achieve massive success. You understand that talent is great but mixed with relentless effort, you can achieve greatness.

Lebron James is a great example. He is unbelievably talented but still works harder than any other player in the league. Even though he has a losing record in the NBA finals (3-5), he works harder each off season to keep getting back to the championship. He understands that without 110% effort, he’ll never give himself the chance to create a winning championship record. 

Start changing your mindset today

Without the right mindset, it is nearly impossible to fulfill your ultimate potential. When you accept a growth mindset in your life you understand that nothing is fixed: not your intelligence, physique or ability to learn something new.

The next time something difficult or challenging comes up in your life, notice which mindset you use to evaluate the problem. You might have a growth mindset in general, but a fixed mindset towards a specific area, like your career or body image.

Switch to a growth mindset as often as possible to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed. Just because you have had a fixed mindset for 30, 40, or 50 years doesn’t mean it is too late to change.

Start living up to your potential by looking at failures and effort differently. Understand that you can achieve almost anything but only once you begin change your mindset.