Mindset is the largest determining factor of success. Too many think that mistakes, goals or bad games are a reflection on ability when in fact they only gauge ability at a moment in time. A performance does not predict the future. The only thing that foretells future success is desire, willingness to learn and hard work.

In 1964 Jim Marshall ran the wrong way in an NFL game resulting in a safety for the opposition. It is considered by many to be the most embarrassing moment in professional sports history. He could have viewed himself a loser, a fool and a buffoon. He could have folded. Instead, he re-grouped and ended up making a tackle that led to the winning points for his team. He played until 1979 and is considered the greatest defensive lineman in Minnesota Vikings history.

Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. Instead of seeing it as a statement on his worth as an individual or businessman, he started Pixar Films: an animation company that he sold for billions. Subsequently, he was rehired by Apple and led the company to its world domination.

Mistakes are merely an opportunity to learn. They are a cue to get back on the horse and keep plugging away. With a mindset that values learning, growth and discovery, one can achieve great things. One is not born with ability. Ability is merely a measure of where one stands today. Where you will be tomorrow depends on your mindset.

If a goalie beats him or herself up after bad plays or setbacks, he creates stress. Stress is the opposite of being relaxed.  If you are not relaxed, performance will suffer.  A productive mindset welcomes mistakes and expects rough times. Once one accepts that bad days or bad games or bad goals are inevitable, their occurrence does not exert as much power on his or her mindset.

Mike Smith is the perfect example of a goalie who made plenty of mistakes (see my article on perseverance). Yes he got down and frustrated at times, but he maintained a growth mindset. He chose to view his errors as necessary steps on the way to learning and improving, not as a statement on his value as a human being or goaltender.

Parents, teachers and coaches have a critical influence on mindset. World-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck conducted a revealing study: Two groups of young children were given the same easy puzzle, however, both groups were rewarded differently after completing the puzzles. One group was praised for their intelligence, the other for their hard work. A new puzzle was then introduced – one that would be difficult to finish. The “intelligent” group had more difficulty carrying out the assignment than the “hard working” group. Furthermore, when both groups were asked if they wanted to try even harder puzzles, the “hard workers” overwhelmingly accepted the challenge, while the “intelligent” group elected to go back to doing the easy puzzles. The group that was praised for being intelligent felt not so intelligent when confronted with failure. As soon as they stumbled they thought of themselves as less smart. Therefore, they chose to go back to doing puzzles that validated their smarts. When faced with a difficult task, the group that was praised for their work ethic welcomed the challenge and subsequently had more success completing the harder tasks.

Conclusion: it is essential to emphasize learning, growth and work ethic over performance. A mindset that welcomes mistakes and setbacks as tools that lead to growth and improvement, will always lead to success.



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