Your mindset is the set of beliefs and expectations you have about yourself, your life, and the others around you.
Mindsets can be useful for condensing information and controlling expectations, but they can also be harmful, leading to interpersonal issues and negative emotions.
According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, mindsets play a significant role in determining life’s outcomes. By understanding, adapting, and shifting your mindset, you can improve your health, decrease your stress and become better at handling changes in businesses, customers, and market shifts over time.
The good news about mindsets is that they are very changeable, and you can change your mindset to challenge your distorted thoughts and build new self-serving narratives.
When I was in high school, I read Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, and it was the first time I heard about a mindset shift.
The book was about a shepherd boy who dreams of traveling the world in search of a treasure. The boy’s name was Santiago, and on his journey, he trusted a stranger and handed him all his money, but the man disappeared when they were at the exotic market.
All of this happened between sunrise and sunset. He was feeling sorry for himself because his life had changed so suddenly and so drastically. At that moment, he was thinking about his life before following his dream. He had his sheep, he was happy, and he made people around him happy. But now he was sad and alone.
After being robbed by a man he felt overwhelmed with negativity. He thought,
“ I am going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. I’m going to hold on to what little I have because I’m not insignificant to conquer the world.”
He realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief or as an adventure in quest of his treasure.
“I am an adventure, looking for treasure,” he said to himself.
By changing the language around a problem, he took himself from a failure to someone on the road to success.
An example of how adults in positions of power can ignite the power of a child
As Aimee Mullins in her TED talk, “ the opportunity of adversity”, explains success is not about emerging from challenging circumstances, it’s about allowing the challenge to change us and being proud of those changes.
Aimee was born with a physical condition that resulted in her lower legs being amputated. She had to do spend a lot of time in a hospital doing repetitions of exercises with thick, elastic bands in physical therapy sessions to help build up her leg muscles.
She says that as a five-year-old child, she hated those bands. Her attitude to the physio changed one day when her doctor came into her session and said to her, “Wow. Aimee, you are such a strong little girl, I think you’re going to break one of those bands. When you do break it, I’m going to give you a hundred bucks.”
Maybe this was a simple trick on the doctor’s side to encourage her to do the exercises, but what he effectively did for her was reshaped an awful daily experience into a new and promising experience.
Simply by praising her effort and reframing the goal, the doctor gave Aimee a completely different view of what she had to achieve.
We all face adversity in our career, business, or personal life from time to time. Physical adversity, mental adversity, emotional adversity, social adversity, and spiritual adversity are all examples of adversity. Any of these can change us whether physically, emotionally, or both.
Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we must overcome to continue enjoying our life. It’s part of life. When facing adversity, it’s important to remember that we always have the freedom to choose how we respond to people, events, and circumstances
Aimee references a study in her TED talk, explaining “streaming trials” in 1960s Britain when students were moving from grammar schools to comprehensive schools.
It’s separating students from A, B, C, D. And the “A students” get the tougher curriculum and the best teachers.
they took D-level students over three months, gave them A’s, told them they were “A’s,” told them they were bright, and at the end of three months, they were performing at A-level.
The unfortunate aspect of this study is that they took the “A students” and told them they were “D’s.” That’s exactly what happened at the end of the three months.
An important part of this case study was that the teachers were duped too. The teachers had no idea about a switch had been made. They were simply told, “These are the ‘A-students,’ these are the ‘D-students.'” And that’s how they approached educating and treating them.
So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, challenge yourself with adapting and shifting your mindset.
Remember you can change your mindset by choosing to believe that you can reframe the problem to find the opportunity within it.
Do you enjoy new challenges and find them exciting, or do you shy away from them to prevent possible failure?