To succeed is to achieve your purpose in life. To succeed is to become the best version of yourself and give value to the world. There is no question that luck plays a role in your life journey, but if we do our best at things that we can control, we have a good chance to succeed. Despite things that we can’t control, such as luck, having grit and having the growth mindset are two of the most important factors of success.
“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail, or if you’re not the best, it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome . They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.” - Carol Dweck
“Growth mindset” is an idea developed by Carol Dweck, a psychologist and author. In her impactful book “Mindset”, she describes that there are two different types of mindset: the “fixed mindset” and the “growth mindset”.
A person with a “fixed mindset” tends to think that ability is almost fixed and it can’t be grown much. Because a person with a fixed-mindset doesn't believe in growth, he or she has the tendency of not finding opportunities to learn. In a meeting, he or she wants to win an argument more than he wants to learn about the situation through discussion.
A person with a “growth mindset” focuses on learning. When failing, he or she focuses on things that can be learned from the failure. In a meeting, he or she doesn’t mind being wrong and someone else being right. He or she understands that learning from others in order to achieve better results is the goal of the meeting.
“Grit is about holding the same top-level goal for a very long time. ...To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.” - Angela Duckworth
“Grit” is an idea discussed in the book “Grit” written by Angela Duckworth, a psychologist and author. She describes “grit” as having a meaningful goal and working towards it for a very long time.
Having grit means having the following things:
During a meeting or a discussion, don’t assume that you are the smartest person. It’s one thing to be good at persuading that your idea is right. It’s another thing that your idea is actually right. If you are good at persuasion, it’s probable that you are just selling an idea that is flawed. Instead of trying to be right, spend more effort on listening and learning from others. Express your idea objectively without overly selling it. Listen to other people’s ideas. Sometimes, it’s someone else that has the best idea. Sometimes, the best idea is a combination of yours and other people’s ideas. Learn about the situation objectively so the best action can be taken.
When you fail, you can own your failure but you want to own it objectively without blaming yourself or others. Figure out what causes the failure and find things that you can learn from it. Understand that you are actually making progress because you are learning.
If you truly believe in the idea that effort is the key for growth, more than raw talent, you would naturally pay more attention to and put more effort on learning. It’s not that raw talent doesn’t matter. It’s just that effort is often what helps you get the job done over the long run.
You have to first find your life purpose or the eventual goal you want to achieve. Without knowing where you want to end up, you are just running aimlessly. Sometimes, you may even be running away from your purpose.
For most people, it takes achieving multiple intermediate goals to achieve the eventual one big goal, or the purpose. Work backward from your purpose and define your 10-year goal, 5-year goal, 1-year-goal, 1-month-goal and eventually daily goal. Define them clearly. Write them down. That’s your plan. It’s your best design at the moment when you write them down with a clear head. You can always change your goals and plan later when necessary, but be sure you know clearly what your current best attempt is like.
"There can only be one most important thing. Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important." - Ross Garber
By working backward from your life purpose to define your daily goal, you should know what is the one important thing (in some cases, it may have to be a few things but try to make it one thing) that you absolutely need to do. Do the one thing everyday.
“Until my one thing is done, everything else is a distraction.” - Gary Keller
Willpower is a limited resource. If you believe that you have the willpower to jog for 30 minutes everyday after work, good luck. Some people can do it, but you don’t want to take chances for your one most important thing. Make doing your one thing the first thing in the morning, before you spend too much willpower on other things.
By doing your one thing everyday for around 2 months, it becomes easier to do because it becomes a habit. In other words, don’t worry about it when it feels difficult to do your daily one thing at first. Do your one thing the first thing in the morning and even reward yourself to kind of force yourself to do it for 2 months. After 2 months, you will want to do it because it has become a habit.
“Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best.” - John Maxwell
When you have committed to your one thing, you have to say “no” to a lot of things that are actually good things. It’s not that we don’t have a choice. However, if you have chosen to achieve your life purpose, that choice requires you to say “no” to a lot of things. You can choose whether to achieve the one great thing that means a lot to you or to achieve many good things that don’t mean as much.
If you fail to finish your daily one task yesterday, just go back to doing it today. There’s no use to blame yourself or others. Just get back to work. If you fail a business or a project, find things that you can learn from the failure and move on. Look at your life purpose again and adjust your intermediate goals if necessary.
It takes a long time to achieve something meaningful. You have to enjoy the process to make yourself keep doing it regardless of the ups and downs. Celebrate the small wins and understand thoroughly that the process is most of your journey.
Being about to adopt the growth mindset and develop grit can help get you closer to your life purpose and goals. Let’s spend a few minutes to reflect on the following quotes.
“‘Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort?’ If so, he says, ‘You may be outscored but you will never lose.’” - Carol Dweck (quoting the famous basketball coach John Wooden)
“Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.” - Carol Dweck
“As much as talent counts, effort counts twice.” - Angela Duckworth
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” - Angela Duckworth
“To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.” - Angela Duckworth