There is something that permeates every aspect of your life. Something so pervasive that you likely don’t notice it, or its effects. This something is like water to a fish. It’s your mindset.
Your mindset is how you interpret everything. It is the lens through which you filter and view everything that happens, and doesn’t happen. It’s your philosophy of seeing (your) life.
Mindset is not your paradigm. Your paradigm is the content and structure of your life. The reality in which you place yourself. Paradigm is passive (mindset is active).
Mindset operates on two levels: 1) fundamental and 2) strategic. Fundamentally, your mindset is either Fixed or Growth-Oriented.
According to Carol Dweck (a Stanford psychology professor and expert in the field):
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.
She goes on to explain:
The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and attitudes, interests or temperament—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
So, either you believe that what you have is what you have, and you’d better prove yourself (based on that) or you believe that you can grow and improve if you work hard at the right things.
There is also a strategic component to mindset. In their book Put Your Mindset To Work: The One Asset You Really Need To Win and Keep The Job You Love, James Reed and Paul Stoltz offer a very useful set of distinctions in terms of how we can view the world.
For Reed and Stoltz it all comes down to three Gs: Global, Good and Grit. In their words:
Global comes first, as it is the vantage point of the 3G mindset. It is about how far you can see, reach and go to understand and address the everyday challenges and issues.
Good comes next, because good is the bedrock upon which everything else is built. This face of mindset is about seeing and approaching the world in a way that truly benefits those around you. It encompasses ethics, morality and your general approach to others.
Grit is the third G and the fuel cell of the 3G Mindset: it propels you forward and brings your 3G Mindset to life, even in the darkest moments. [Grit is about authentic motivation, tenacity and resilience.]
Left to its own devices our mindset will not magically optimize itself. Unless we take charge of how we think we’ll be at the mercy of thousands of past decisions and outside influences.
It is up to us to look at our results and see how well we’ve been thinking. To ask ourselves if we are stuck with what we have, or if we can improve with intelligent effort? If we’re looking at the challenges and opportunities with a global perspective? If we’re making decisions and taking action based on what’s right? And, if we’re giving up when things get tough, or sticking it out (when it truly makes sense to do so . . . )?