Change begins with choosing to do something different

(FYI, the next post in this series is here. You can begin this series by going here.)

Petra was born into wealth and power, and everybody–even her parents–did what she wanted. As an adult, she took over running her family’s businesses. She failed miserably.

An advisor told her, “Petra, you must negotiate with these people.” She taught Petra what she needed to know, and Petra did what her advisor said. But her efforts came to nothing because she still expected people to do what she wanted.

Why did Petra fail?

Her advisor’s techniques didn’t work because her viewpoint about how people behave sabotaged her actions.

Viewpoints and the growth mindset

In the area of personal growth, Carol Dweck’s discovery of the growth mindset is the single most powerful idea of the last half century.

The growth mindset can be summarized as follows:

The growth mindset states that a person’s talents and abilities are not fixed at birth but can be enhanced by effort, learning, and persistence.

Dweck’s discovery has been validated by 40 years of research. To learn more, you can read my introductory article on the growth mindset.

Why are viewpoints useful?

Moving from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset is difficult because you need to suppress your natural impulses and learn to do the exact opposite.

Petra failed because her natural impulse was to tell people to do what she wanted.

She would have succeeded if she had reversed how she saw the world:

Other people won’t do things just because you tell them to, so you have to listen to what they want.

If Petra had adopted this viewpoint and acted accordingly, she would have been successful running her company.

What viewpoints support the growth mindset?

I have discovered seven separate viewpoints that you can use to move from a fixed to a growth mindset.

The viewpoints covered in the previous post are the reality of the growth mindset and the cost of the fixed mindset.

The viewpoints that build on top of these deal with:

  • effort
  • failure
  • engagement
  • perseverance

And that leads us to:

You have to choose more than once

Viewpoint 3: You understand that you develop the growth mindset by repeatedly choosing to do so and that you are in control of this process.

Developing a growth mindset is entirely in your control. Why? Because the single action central to your success is making a choice, and that is in your control.

Every day contains opportunities to choose the growth mindset over the fixed mindset.

But beware! Every time you keep doing as you’ve always done, you are moving away from the growth mindset. Be on guard against this temptation.

You can begin your journey by choosing to accept Viewpoint 1, the reality of the growth mindset.

Every day, you will have opportunities to use the growth mindset. Wherever you can, choose to act on such opportunities. The best place to start? The negative thoughts you keep having.

The more often you choose to act according to the growth mindset, the more useful it will become.

What you will gain

The viewpoint of choice makes the task of moving to the growth mindset doable.

You can’t possibly adopt the growth mindset all at once, but you can look for opportunities to use it, then choose to act. From the Mindset book:

One seventh-grade girl summed it up. “I think intelligence is something you have to work for…it isn’t just given to you….

“Most kids, if they’re not sure of an answer, will not raise their hand to answer the question. But what I usually do is raise my hand, because if I’m wrong, then my mistake will be corrected….

“Just by doing that I’m increasing my intelligence.”



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