When we experience failure, we tend to go through a lot of different questions and emotions. Where did we go wrong? Was there anything we could have done differently? What is the next step?
Typically, there are two main ways that we can respond to failure: letting it stop us or using it as a means for improvement. In other words, we can have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
With a fixed mindset, we tend to believe that failure occurred because of our natural skills and disposition. According to this belief, we were born with a knack for certain things and, well, we just weren’t meant for other things.
When we operate under a fixed mindset, failure becomes something inevitable. When we fail at something, it isn’t because we fell short on some goal or because we could have done something differently. We fail simply because we tried to do something that didn’t align with our natural set of skills and abilities.
Therefore, a fixed mindset doesn’t allot room for improvement. When you respond to failure with a fixed mindset, you don’t believe that you can gain new skills and learn new lessons to help you out with future attempts. Learning and growing don’t happen under this belief, so a failure become a stopping point. Once you reach a certain failure, you can do no more in that area.
On the other hand, a growth mindset centers around improvement. With a growth mindset, we believe that we are constantly able to acquire new skills, learn new lessons, and move forward. According to this belief, we aren’t born unable to complete certain tasks– we are always able to learn any skill as long as we continue to work hard and seek improvement.
Failure, then, isn’t something that happens because we weren’t meant to succeed at that specific task. Failure happens because we didn’t work hard enough or because we hadn’t quite developed the skills that we needed for the task.
While a fixed mindset views failure as inevitable, a growth mindset views failure as an opportunity. Because failure occurred due to a need for improvement, we can easily see how we could succeed if we try something different. Putting in a little more effort, asking for feedback, or working on a specific skillset can all help us succeed at something that may not have gone so well the first time around. The important thing is to keep trying. A fixed mindset views failure as a wall, but a growth mindset views it as a starting point.
So, how exactly do you develop a growth mindset if you aren’t quite there? The most important way is to work toward understanding failure as a learning opportunity. When you fail at something, analyze what went wrong, what role you played, and what you could have done to produce a different outcome.
When you experience failure, how do you respond? Do you view it as the end of the road, or do you view it as an opportunity to learn something new and improve your skills? If you tend to think the worst after a failure, try to nurture a growth mindset and