“You can be anything you want to be in life.” This is common advice given by teachers, coaches, motivational speakers or psychologists to their respective audiences. Research has shown you can learn any skill, grow and develop it over time. What is missing in this advice is an important ingredient into how you can be anything you want to be in life: Your Mindset.
In general, there are two primary ways of looking at the world, two mindsets that influence your response to new experiences. These are the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset. Most of these ideas come from Stanford psychologist, Dr Carol Dweck, who broke down the theories of intelligence in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
With a fixed mindset you believe that you skills are fixed. If you try something and it does not work, it is because you are not good at it and you never will be. You were born with innate skills and abilities that will never change. Using this mindset, if you experience a challenge or difficulty you are likely to stop, you are obviously not good at it so why bother?
With a growth mindset you skills and abilities are malleable. If you try something and it does not work, it is because you have not worked on it very much, but if you keep trying you will inevitably get better. Your skills and abilities are like muscles, they strengthen with use. Using this mindset, if you experience a challenge or difficulty, you’re likely to keep going, you might not be good at it yet, but you’re always getting better.
As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road. – Dr Carol Dweck
These two mindsets determine how you experience everything in the world and how far you progress with the development of your chosen skills and abilities. The way you choose to respond to challenges determines how successful you will become. It is important to realise you can learn anything, there is nothing that you are fundamentally incapable of learning or doing. It may take time and effort, but you will improve eventually if you make the effort.