Mind over Matter: How Your Mindset Impacts Your Success

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Mind over Matter: how your mindset impacts your success

Julian Rotter called it the Locus of Control of Reinforcement (Rotter,1966).
Dr. Carol Dweck named it a Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Dweck, 2007).
Both American psychologists are considered thought leaders in the field of cognitive influential theories – is there some truth to “mind over matter” when it comes to success? The way they formulated this question was:
To what extent does our mindset drive our actions and effort to learn and grow, and as such our level of success in life?
In other words, are we in control over our success and our progress, or are we merely victims of our circumstances? Even if you’re a fierce critic of the power of the mind, science has determined that our behavior is largely influenced by our thoughts. Our thoughts create our emotions, and our emotions determine our behavior. Thus, your mindset impacts your success – meaning the way you think about your own capabilities will eventually shape your behavior when obstacles appear in your path. The question then is: how do you think about that obstacle? And more importantly, how do you think about your ability to overcome the obstacle?
In her work on the influence of the mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck made a distinction between a ‘growth’ mindset versus a ‘fixed’ mindset.

Fixed and Growth Mindset Diagram - Mind over matter

What is a growth mindset?

growth mindset puts us in a state of resourceful thinking, aimed at finding creative solutions to obstacles and problems. People with a growth mindset are critical thinkers, more resilient to stress and setbacks, and they feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals. An interesting fact is that experience and learning physically change our brain plasticity (how our neurons ‘communicate’) – we get smarter and more creative!

What phrases would people with a growth mindset use?

  • “What can I change next time to get a better outcome?”
  • “If I work harder, I can make it.”
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” (Thomas Edison)
  • “I’m not good at this, but I can learn.”
  • “What’s plan B?”
  • “It’s a start!”

Watch Dr. Dweck’s TED Talk about “The Power of Yet”.

What is a fixed mindset?

fixed mindset, however, would indicate an unresourceful state of mind. A person would act according to the belief that their level of accomplishment and success is dependent on and subject to outside influences over which they have no control. Effort is basically pointless when everything is predetermined. It has been shown that those with a fixed mindset would avoid challenges and obstacles, and be more susceptible to stress and burnout when experiencing setbacks.

What phrases would people with a fixed mindset use?

  • “I’m just not good at this.”
  • “They will never give me a chance’”
  • “It is what it is.”
  • “I guess this is what God wants for me.”
  • “He made it, but he only got lucky.”
  • “No matter what I do, it’s not going to change.”
So how does your mindset affect your level of success and accomplishment right now?
Do you recognize some phrases that you often say?
This might give you a clue as to which mindset you have – and why some things in your life may not be as you want them to be.
For example, do you have a job that you hate? What is your mindset about that? Do you feel helpless, unresourceful, or stuck? Or have you thought about strategies or a plan to get out of that situation? Can you put mind over matter in your case?
Some people have worked the same job for years and are sick and tired of it, but the fixed mindset voice prevents them from taking action. After all, it’s hard to leave your comfort zone, right? Others recognize that action is the only way toward change, and this growth mindset voice will likely take them out of their comfort zones and toward success.
Mind over matter - woman thinking

Surely, a growth mindset or a positive mindset would not simply fix all your problems. But a change in the way you think about your own power to make a change – a shift towards a growth mindset – may just be the change you need to take action and feel stronger to accomplish your goals in life and career.

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