3 Ways to Cultivate a Mindset for Success


Are you stuck in a rut? Not getting the results you want? Do you want to make a change but not sure how?

Maybe you just need to change your mindset. We act out of beliefs, but often aren’t aware of what those beliefs are, or how they affect us.

Here are three powerful tools you can use to shift your mindset for more positive results in your life.

Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset
In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, identifies two mindsets that affect what we do and achieve: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

A Fixed Mindset stems from the belief that intelligence and talent are gifts received at birth, which cannot be developed beyond a certain point. Unfortunately, many of our institutions reinforce this mindset. If you’ve ever said, “I’m just not good at that,” you’ve demonstrated a Fixed Mindset.  When we operate with a Fixed Mindset, we are fearful of change, criticism, and new challenges. We may give up easily in the face of obstacles and feel threatened by others’ success. We don’t want to risk trying and failing because that would confirm our fundamental lack of talent or intelligence. Fixed Mindset serves a protective purpose, and may be valuable in some circumstances. However, it can also keep us from growing.

That’s where Growth Mindset becomes valuable. When we operate with a Growth Mindset, we believe that talent and intelligence can be developed through effort. So, we actively seek out opportunities to learn and develop new skills. We are willing to risk failure in order to grow. Recent research on Fixed and Growth mindsets has shown that when organizations encourage and develop Growth mindsets, employees report:

  • Having greater trust in the organization
  • Being more engaged in the work
  • Viewing the organization as innovative
  • Viewing the organization as ethical

For tips on how to cultivate a Growth mindset to expand your possibilities, check out Dweck’s Web site.

Judger vs. Learner Mindset
In her book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Marilee Adams also describes two different mindsets: Judger Mindset and Learner Mindset. She focuses on how the questions we ask shape our thinking.

When we operate with the Judger Mindset, we may ask questions like:

  • “What’s wrong with me?”
  • “Whose fault is this?”
  • “Why bother?”

We can transform any situation by shifting to Learner Mindset with questions like:

  • “What can I learn here?”
  • “What can I do about this?”
  • “What’s possible?”

Adams’ Choice Map is a good visual reminder of the differences between the two mindsets and the questions that lead to very different outcomes.

Above/Below the Line Thinking
In their book, The Oz Principle, Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, Roger Connors, Tim Smith, and Craig Hickman discuss two types of thinking: Below the Line and Above the Line.

Below the Line thinking looks for excuses and someone to blame, with thoughts like:

  • “It’s not my job.”
  • “No one told me.”
  • “No one would listen anyway.”

Above the Line thinking focuses on personal accountability with thoughts like:

  • “What can I do?”
  • “How can I work with others to solve this?”
  • “I am responsible.”

Connors, Smith, and Hickman offer a 4-step process to shift Below the Line thinking in others or ourselves to Above the Line Thinking:

  1. See It—Acknowledge reality and see things as they really are, especially any uncomfortable truths
  2. Own It—Identify your own contribution to the situation and how you can move beyond it
  3. Solve It—Stay engaged to find the solution; persist through difficulties; think differently to bring in new ideas; create new relationships and connections; take the initiative; and pay attention to potential solutions
  4. Do It—Implement your solution and ensure results

For more on the Oz Principle, check out Partners in Leadership.

Take the Success Challenge
Where is your current mindset taking you? How could you use one or more of these tools to cultivate a mindset for success?

Make a commitment to put one of these tools into daily practice over the next 30 days, and see what you can achieve.

Claudia Escribano is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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The trick is being in an organization that rewards the positive traits described rather than the opposite. In my state and department, it’s the opposite. HR is focused on keeping employees “in their place,” and state policy is about breaking down employee morale and compensation because it benefits the administration politically…and dysfunctional governing benefits them similarly. So it is not a downside to promote ineffective operations in our departments. If I told you the state, you would recognize the symptoms immediately.

Jennifer Bugajsky

I also recommend people take the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality assessment. By gaining insight on one’s personality, you’re able to gain insight on one’s learning style and mindset as well.
Thank you for posting this! Great information!