What is the one skill that, if you have it, will completely change your life?

 

Grow your mindset so that you can view success and failure in the best light possible.

Because that is where everything begins: in your head. In the way you see the world around you. In the way you process events that happen to you. In the attitude you develop as you deal with real life, daily events, people you interact with, obstacles that stand in your way, goals that you strive to reach.

That attitude plays a critical role in how you understand success and failure, it strengthens (or weakens) the coping mechanisms you need to deal with life’s challenges, it defines the way you see yourself, and ultimately it impacts the overall quality of your life. Chances are, the attitude doesn’t always begin with you. It started as you were growing up, and was influenced by the messages you received from your parents, your teachers, and the environment you grew up in. As a result, you developed one of two types of mindsets:

  • A fixed mindset is when we believe that our qualities are set in stone (either at birth or in early childhood), and that we can only have a certain level of intelligence, a certain type of personality, or a certain moral character. If we consider ourselves intelligent, we expect success at every step, and when we encounter an obstacle, we withdraw or give up entirely.
  • A growth mindset is when we believe that our genetic structure and our early years are merely the starting point in our development, and that we can improve on our qualities through continuous efforts. If we understand that there is always room for growth, we approach life as a continuum of learning and we treat obstacles as opportunities to better ourselves and improve our skills further.

Here are 3 tips to grow your mindset so that you can view success and failure in a way that’s most beneficial to you.

Tip #1. Change how you view success. Instead of thinking that success is being the best, think of success as doing your best, always learning new things and improving the way you do your work and manage your personal development. For example:

  • Take ownership of your day by planning it out so you have time to accomplish what you need to do, instead of reacting to events and letting them take over your day.
  • To get a head start, create a morning routine and wake up a bit earlier so that you can work out and tackle the most complex cognitive tasks that require your complete focus.
  • When you are working, remove all distractions and focus on what’s in front of you. Make a connection between what you’re doing right now and why you’re doing it, so that you always keep your goals top of mind.

Tip #2. Change how you view failure. Instead of seeing your failures as confirmation of your inability to do something, see a failure as a setback: it can be motivating, informative, even a wake-up call. It isn’t an excuse to give up entirely on something; it can even build character. For example:

  • When you fail an exam or get a lower grade than you expected, take stock of how you did: write down how much time you devoted to studying, which materials you used, even where you studied. Then think of how to improve and make changes so that you do better next time. In other words, create your plan B.
  • When you receive criticism of your work, don’t immediately get emotional. Closely examine what is the core of the message: did you overlook an important detail, was there a pattern of errors you’ve repeated from before, did you miss a deadline because you forgot? Then take some time to make the necessary changes, correct what needs to be done, and move on.
  • When you get frustrated at yourself for not making progress as quickly as you’d like, make an assessment of the path you are taking: is there someone more experienced you can ask who can advise you, are you using your resources wisely, do you need to carve out more time in your day to devote to your practice? Then map out your next steps so that you can get to your goal faster.

Tip #3. Take charge of your success. When you succeed, don’t just sit back and expect it to last. Take concrete steps to maintain it, keep it in good shape, and make it last. For example:

  • If you’ve successfully completed your exams, don’t just waste away your summer watching TV or sitting in front of the computer surfing the Internet. Make a plan to improve on a skill that is important to your personal development (practicing a new language, getting fit for a marathon, learning more about world history or geography), then work on it daily.
  • If you turned in a big project and met the deadline, don’t just sit back and chat with coworkers for hours and watch YouTube videos when the boss is out of the office. Look for something else you can get strategic about: is there an upcoming big meeting you can plan for, a new tool your team just started using that you can familiarize yourself with, a professional milestone that you can prepare for and discuss with your manager? Then make some time in your schedule to work on it on a regular basis.
  • If you just mastered a skill that is important for school, work, or your personal interests, don’t just keep it to yourself. Find out who might also benefit from your expertise and knowledge, then teach it to others. When you share your success, your work will give you a greater sense of purpose, and you’ll feel more connected to what you’ve accomplished. In addition, you will be providing something of value to other people and helping them achieve success in their lives, which in turn will enrich your own life experience and make it more relevant.
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