Author and psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, penned these opening words of his bestselling book, The Road Less Traveled, over 40 years ago: “Life is difficult.”
No other words better describe how many of us are feeling in 2020. This is a year in which life has become very difficult. In this pandemic, nobody is untouched. We are all in this together.
With tens of millions around the world infected with Covid-19, and more than 1 million deaths, it seems that the pandemic will still have a way to go before the world can recover.
Yet, as 2020 nears its end and Christmas approaches, we look to the new year in 2021 with the hope that things will get better. We hope for a vaccine to Covid-19. We hope for improved treatment and better outcomes of those suffering the worst effects of the virus. We hope the economy grows and people can return to work.
We hope that life won’t be as difficult as it has been in 2020.
As a doctor, author, and transformologist, I have found that those people who embrace the lessons of difficulty, hardships, and failure are the people who eventually triumph over their adversities. Those that don’t embrace the lessons do not do as well.
In particular, it is those who have a growth mindset who do better than those who have a fixed mindset.
Growth mindset people have a flexible view of the world and a greater sense of free will and self-determination. Because of this, they look for solutions to problems. They have an attitude of being part of the solution, not part of the problem. They are flexible in the way they approach each problem, adapting to the needs of the moment.
Fixed mindset people have a rigid and deterministic view of the world. Because of this, they tend to see problems not solutions. The problem in turn determines how they think, feel, and behave. They tend to be a one-trick pony, with only one solution to every problem they encounter, which is usually brute force.
In her two decades of research, Standford psychologist, Carol Dweck, found that our beliefs about ourselves determines to a large extent our behaviours, our relationship with success and failure, and even our capacity for happiness.
As she says, “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
She has identified 5 areas that distinguish a fixed mindset from a growth mindset:
1. Challenges: fixed mindset people avoid challenges; growth mindset people embrace challenges.
2. Obstacles: fixed mindset people give up easily; growth mindset people persist.
3. Effort: fixed mindset people see effort as fruitless or pointless; growth mindset people use effort as the path to mastery.
4. Criticism: fixed mindset people ignore useful criticism; growth mindset people learn from criticism.
5. Other People’s Success: fixed mindset people feel threatened by other people’s success; growth mindset people find lessons and inspiration by other people’s success.
The result is that fixed mindset people tend to plateau and achieve less than their full potential, in keeping with their deterministic view of the world and their place in it.
Growth mindset people, on the other hand, tend to reach higher levels of achievement, in keeping with their greater sense of free will.
The difference between fixed and growth mindset can be summed up in 1 sentence:
A growth mindset embraces change; a fixed mindset resists change.
A growth mindset seeks the unlimited potential of what can be; a fixed mindset seeks to keep things as they are.
But as we know, the only thing in this life that is unchanging is change. If this current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that change is the norm and that despite appearances to the contrary, nothing stays the same.
The Law of Change states the everything is in the process of becoming something else.
As Earl Nightingale, bestselling author of The Strangest Secret, said, “Everything is in an unending state of renewal.”
That means everything. People, places, time, the solar system, the universe. You.
So, how can you work with this law and have it work for you, not against you?
Well, this Christmas, why not give yourself the best present ever? Let’s unwrap your growth mindset and use the Law of Change to reach your goals and make 2021 one of your best years ever! Here’s how:
1. Be like water.
The Chinese have a saying that goes something like this: “In the battle between the rock and the river, the river always wins.” Over time, no matter how hard the rock may be, the water will always wear it down and erode it.
The rock is symbolic of rigidity and resistance to change. The water is symbolic of flow and constant change.
Therefore, develop your growth mindset and be like water.
2. Follow the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In other words, do for others what you would like them to do for you. Always be asking yourself, “What would they like me to do?”
This will cause you to think of solutions to problems that you encounter, not be part of the problem, which is an essential factor for developing your growth mindset.
3. Never give up!
Change is hard. Things don’t always work out how you planned. But don’t give up. Rather follow Winston Churchill’s advice that, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
It is your persistence in what you know to be the right thing to do that will help you to develop your growth mindset and reach your goals in 2021.
So yes, life is difficult. 2020 has been extremely difficult. But unwrap your growth mindset this Christmas and make 2021 a prosperous one.