by Jenn Aubert
Much has been written on the entrepreneurial mindset as it relates to starting, managing, and growing a business—and with good reason. It may come as a surprise, but a person’s belief system is the foundation of their business endeavors. An idea alone can never be transformed into reality if the person leading the company doesn’t believe in him or herself and their individual ideas.
How do you set yourself up for success? Before you can begin to modify or completely revamp your mindset, you have to determine your current belief patterns and what may hold you back as you launch or grow a business.
According to Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck, a person can exhibit one of two very distinct mindset patterns: fixed or growth.
Which one is dictating your life? Let’s find out!
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
A person with a fixed mindset believes that traits are static, unable to be changed and that you’re born with a certain level of intelligence, natural talents, and innate abilities. These abilities cannot be improved upon or changed. They don’t believe that effort or education can improve someone’s life or livelihood, and they personally avoid anything that might challenge them. They are afraid to look unintelligent, so they avoid doing anything that challenges their innate talents. Effort is seen as fruitless or, in most cases, a sign that someone is not naturally good at something. If you’re born a natural, why would you have to practice or work harder? If you think that sounds pretty rigid, you’d be right.
On the other end of the spectrum is the growth mindset. Someone with a growth mindset believes that any trait or skill can be cultivated through education, effort, and mentorship. Intelligence can always be improved and talents can be learned. They invite challenges, obstacles, and feedback because they know that these are opportunities for improvement and growth. They love learning and enjoy the fruits of their effort.
If you’re launching or growing a business with a fixed mindset, you will likely never reach the levels of success you could if you had a more flexible outlook. Yes, there are the occasional genius types who have rigidly fixed mindsets (in tennis, John McEnroe, for instance) who have used their abilities to climb to dramatic heights but brought tyranny, disruption, and ugliness to nearly every situation. You’re above this mentality and armed with the knowledge that there is another way—you can set yourself up for success.
Interestingly Dweck writes in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that you can have a fixed mindset in certain areas of your life and maintain a growth mindset in other areas. Maybe you have a growth mindset when it comes to your intelligence, but hold a fixed mindset when it comes to your athletic abilities. This balance is perfectly acceptable.
What I have found in certain female circles is that the fixed mindset shows up when it comes to business whereas women have a growth mindset when it comes to other areas of their life. This ill-fated mindset can literally stop you in your tracks or sabotage you later on down the road when challenges and obstacles arise.
So how do you know if you have a fixed or a growth mindset when it comes to business? Here are some questions to ponder. Note whether you strongly agree or disagree with the following statements:
I believe that you’re born with a certain set of abilities, and at the end of the day, I really don’t think you can change them.
I think entrepreneurs are born that way. I don’t think you can really learn to be an entrepreneur.
Sure, I can learn new things, but the core of who I am, my intelligence, is not really changeable.
People are born with certain talents for business and networking.
When I get feedback, I feel defensive or I just simply ignore it.
I feel like challenges and obstacles threaten how well I will do and who I am.
I look at my competitors and think they’re so naturally talented. I also think they are incredibly lucky.
If you agree or strongly agree with the above statements you might want to consider revamping your mindset. And, yes, this is possible. People can move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset with a bit of work.
Four Steps to Foster a Growth Mindset
1. Know the difference between the two. It seems simple, but just knowing the difference between the fixed and growth mindset will enable you to make a shift in your beliefs about the world and your capabilities.
2. Monitor the inner dialogue. We all have a running inner dialogue that never rests. Be sure you become aware of what those voices are saying to you and about you.
3. Recognize that you do have a choice. You do have a choice in how you approach the world and your belief systems. When you realize that you have the power to change, you begin to see areas where you can make the necessary tweaks to get on the path to success.
4. Talk back to your fixed mindset. Sometimes you just need to give your fixed mindset a piece of your mind. By talking back to your fixed mindset with statements like: “This can be learned” or “I can change for the better” or “I know this challenge will prove useful,” you can help reprogram how you approach yourself, your relationships, your business, and the world.
Get ready to make a change!
Jenn Aubert is an author and entrepreneur. Her first book Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch! (Balboa Press, 2014) explores the mindset, motivation, and behaviors of successful female entrepreneurs and the role models in their lives who have influenced them. She is also the Co-founder and CEO of LearnSavvy, an online education marketplace and community for women business owners.