Your interpretation of success ultimately stems from your mindset. How do you view your abilities? What about your potential? The way you do has a tremendous impact on your life’s trajectory.
How does a mindset come to be? Well, it’s often based on success. Is success tangible? The answer to that is different for everyone, as it’s subjective. Some people define success by how much money they make or their status in society. Others take a more holistic approach, determining success by how much knowledge they can accumulate or the amount of time they devote to developing a specific skill. Yet, each of these mindsets contains negative qualities. The former two are shallow and lack substance when it comes to moral and ethical values. The latter two appear more sincere on the surface but take a deeper dive, and you quickly realize when you quantify a mindset, no matter how motivating the end goal is, it becomes more about a number than the mindset itself.
One of the most polarizing words in the English dictionary is success. The meaning of success, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose,” is so much more than seven words. For example, if you set a goal of receiving a final score of 100 for a class, and you end the semester with a 98, you weren’t successful by your standard. Obviously, this is ridiculous because a mere two points didn’t mean any difference in your success. But it also paints a bigger picture. A difficult moment in time isn’t a direct measure of your competence or worth. You received an exemplary grade in class, and with the right mindset, should pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
With life comes natural challenges. In some way, we are all a product of our environments. As such, we all have some sort of preordained destiny. If a child’s parents are incredibly tall, and the child projects to be seven feet tall one day, there’s a high likelihood the game of basketball will be introduced to the kid. In the same way, if a child’s parents are ivy-league scholars, it becomes an assumption the kid will do great in school and eventually becomes a barometer of the child’s success. Well, what if the first child takes up piano, and the second doesn’t go to college? With the wrong mindset, the parents could be setting themselves up to be disappointed and thinking about what could’ve been instead of letting their child’s own beautiful journey unravel before their eyes.
“Expectations are often the thief of joy.”
Expectations and pressures will unequivocally transpire throughout your life. There’s no getting around human beings’ innate tendency to judge others. This is where your mindset becomes crucial. Life is a marathon filled with peaks and valleys. So how will you deal with the highs and lows? Let’s say you go to work on a Monday. On the way there, your tire gets a hole in it, and you have to pull over. You check your bank account to see if you have enough money for a new tire. You don’t, and you won’t get paid for another week. Then, you receive a reminder on your phone notifying you rent is due in a week. If you miss work the rest of the week, you won’t be able to afford rent, and your landlord already warned you if you were late again, you’d be evicted. In your mind, everything that could go wrong is, and you’re left feeling demoralized and hopeless.
In this scenario, your mindset could very well make or break your current living situation. Let’s say your emotions get the best of you, and you kick your tire out of frustration. Unbeknownst to you, there was a piece of glass stuck in your shoe from where you pulled over on the side of the road, and you just put a hole in the same tire. In moments like this, it’s tough to manage frustrations, but it can be done. You could have sealed your tire’s fate with the second hole, jeopardizing yourself further. If instead, you took a moment to breathe, remembered your friend used to be a mechanic, had him tow your car to his old shop and patch it for you at no cost, things may have been different. You could’ve gone to work, afforded rent, and saved for a new tire.
We don’t all have mechanics for friends, so let’s say you didn’t have anyone to help you and had to figure it out on your own. You’re upset, but you use your anger to fuel a run to the nearest tire shop. As you make your way inside the building, catching your breath, you begin to think about how lucky you are to have a roof over your head and reliable transportation in the first place. Thinking back to the days when you had neither, and life felt like an unimaginable struggle, your frown quickly turns to a smile. With renewed energy, you explain your situation to the manager, who wonders how you’re so calm in the midst of such uncertainty. You look at him and say, not only could it be a lot worse, but that you’re thankful for what you have. That is a growth mindset.
No matter what comes your way in life, you always want to have a growth mindset. Whether you can’t get over the hump to pass a driver’s education course or just won a Nobel peace prize, it’s best to stay even keel. It doesn’t mean you can’t relish in your accomplishments, but you want to remain conscious of how you got there in the first place through a desire to grow. Similarly, when things don’t go your way, you want to be mindful of the times they did and what you can do to make them better. From the time we are born until the day we leave earth, we evolve. You’ll never know or have done everything. Meaning, there’s always room for growth and the opportunity to achieve it, but it starts with your mindset.