Why a Growth Mindset is Essential to Success and How to Shift Your Mindset

If you find yourself experiencing periods of stagnation professionally or personally, it might be time to evaluate your mindset and reframe your focus.

learn more about Ryan McGrath

By Ryan McGrath

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of my core beliefs in my professional and personal life is that I am and should always be on a path of self-improvement — the work is never done, and if it feels like it is, it's time for a new challenge. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carole Dweck introduces the concept of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset and how operating with one over the other will drastically affect your overall life trajectory.

Though the concept itself is not a supremely complicated one, it's fascinating to see how this fundamental difference in mindset can significantly impact how a person develops. While a growth mindset can be challenging to attain, it's not impossible, and like anything else, training the muscle strengthens it.

Before identifying how you think, it's essential to identify the difference between the two mindsets. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their abilities, talents and skills are fixed traits that cannot be changed and that they shouldn't bother trying. On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset believes that many of their abilities and talents can be continuously developed as long as they put in the work and dedication required.

Related: 6 Patterns That Stop You From Achieving Long-Term Success

You may notice a person with a fixed mindset shy away from challenges or avoid risk, which often stems from a fear of failure. A person with a growth mindset will often lean into challenges and push themselves out of their comfort zone; they believe that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, which helps to stave off the fear that comes with it. Because of the way these mindsets lead a person to behave, someone with a fixed mindset will most likely experience stagnation and a lack of progress, while someone with a growth mindset will become more resilient in the face of setbacks and are more likely to dust themselves off and try again in the hopes of attaining their goals.

When broken down this way, it's evident that a growth mindset is necessary to succeed and move forward, but it also highlights why it's so easy to fall into a fixed mindset. To put it simply, it's more comfortable. Staying in a fixed mindset might not push you toward your goals, but it also dramatically lessens the risk of failing and feeling uneasy — everything will stay, for the most part, as it is. If you find yourself stuck in that fixed mindset, know that you can shift your thinking, which will make an immediate and marked difference in your daily life. While it may feel like it applies more to tangible goals and career paths, you'll see that your mindset affects all aspects of your life, from learning a skill necessary for landing a new job to pursuing a new hobby.

Related: 5 Ways to Become a Top Performer at Any Company

There are several things you can put into practice immediately to help you make the shift:

  1. Embrace challenges as they arrive. Instead of avoiding obstacles, head directly for them and use them as an opportunity to learn how to overcome them. Everything is an opportunity if you can frame it that way.
  2. Recognize your abilities and how they can be built upon. Give yourself credit for what you can do well while understanding that they can almost always be developed further. Note your potential and focus on your strengths while working in parallel to improve your weaknesses.
  3. Take calculated risks. The key word in that sentence is calculated — welcoming risk doesn't mean you should ignore your instincts. Be cautious without being afraid, and step outside of your comfort zone when it feels right.
  4. Practice self-reflection. It's difficult to develop without taking an honest look at yourself and how you've gotten to where you are, and periods of reflection will help you see what's working as you shift into a new mindset.
  5. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. They say that you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and if the people around you operate with a growth mindset, it'll be a lot easier to achieve one yourself.

Related: A 4-Step Guide to Facing Failure and Getting Back Up

It won't be overnight, but by channeling your energy towards this growth mindset, you will ultimately be setting yourself up for success, and conversely, you won't see the progress you hope to achieve without it. I've found that adopting a growth mindset has been instrumental in my life, helping me develop new skills and push myself beyond my perceived limitations. I've also seen firsthand how important it is for myself and those I lead. Fostering a growth mindset culture within the business is imperative to creating an innovative and dynamic environment where my team members know they have opportunities to develop and improve, benefitting not only each individual but the company as a whole.

Ryan McGrath

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO + President of Asset Living

Ryan McGrath is a leading private-equity-backed CEO, entrepreneur and real estate investor. As President and CEO of Asset Living, the fourth-largest apartment manager in the U.S., he leads a team of over 6,000 employees with approximately $40 billion in AUM.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

These Sisters Quit Their Jobs Mid-Pandemic to Risk It All for Their Brand. Now They're Not Only Thriving, But Working to End the Cycle of Poverty in South Africa.
Warren Buffett and Partner Charlie Munger Reveal Their Best Business Advice for 2023
What You Should Actually Do If You're Accused of Gaslighting
The Viral Brand Behind Soaring Searches for 'Female Body Hair' Still Gets Up Close and Personal After Its $310 Million Sale
Find Out Which Brands Have Ranked on the Franchise 500 for Longest, Earning a Spot in Our New 'Hall of Fame'
Business News

Carnival Cruise Wants Passengers to Have Fun in the Sun — But Do This, and You'll Get Burned With a New $500 Fee

The cruise line's updated contract follows a spate of unruly guest behavior across the tourism industry.

Business News

An HR Specialist Explains Why Unlimited PTO Can Hurt You In The Long Run

One TikToker is going viral after explaining why accrued PTO is better than unlimited days off.

Starting a Business

Jamie & Kayla Giovinazzo of EAT CLEAN BRO on Creating a Meal Prep Business

Interview with owners of Eat Clean Bro Jamie & Kayla Giovinazzo about prioritizing every customer, the business of healthy food, and building a culture with clear communication.

Diversity

70% of Male Leaders Believe This Industry Is Inclusive — But Most Female Leaders Disagree.

Embracing diversity and inclusion at your business can lead to better results, more innovation and access to top talent. Here's how.

Starting a Business

Lewis Howes Has Built An Eight-Figure Personal Brand. He Did It By Constantly Reinventing Himself.

The key to Howes' success is his willingness to be honest about what people need, and revise his story again and again.