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Fail Your Way to Success by Changing your Mindset

One of the reasons Magic Johnston did so well after failure, may have been because he had a growth mindset. People who have a growth mind-set believe that, while everyone may differ in their level of intelligence or ability, fundamentally we can increase this level through hard work.

Magic had a natural sporting ability and by working hard he increased this.  If he had possessed a fixed mind-set, which is to believe that one is born with a certain level of intelligence and ability that cannot be changed, then learning from failure would not have been an option.  For example, if you believe that intelligence cannot be increased then failure is going to make you feel hopeless and depressed because there is not much you can do to increase it.  Studies have shown that people who are told that intelligence can be raised 'fixed'.

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?   If you have a fixed mind-set take time to think about your view of intelligence? Do you feel anxious and depressed after failing?  Do you avoid tasks because of fear of failure? Do you put less effort into tasks because you feel hopeless about making progress? Do you find that when you are carrying out a task you are worried about how good you look at it, rather than what you are learning from it? Do you miss learning opportunities because of fear of failure?  If you answered 'yes' to some of these questions then you probably do possess the belief that intelligence is fixed.  There is hope.  Studies have shown that we can change our mind-set.  Reading and thinking about the growth mindset can activate a change in our views of intelligence.  Next time you fail, pay attention to how you respond to this.  What can you learn from the failure? How can you improve your performance through this setback?  

(Dweck, 2000. Self-theories: Essays in Social Psychology. See also evidence section. )

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