Growth Mindset: The Most Important Life Skill

What is the most important life skill? How is it possible that some people seem to effortlessly do well in school, at work, in business, and in life? What is the one thing that all successful people have in common? The secret truth is that all successful people have a growth mindset and have mastered the science, art, and skill of learning how to learn. 

Those who are successful in school, at work, in business, or in life are able to learn, apply, and improve better than anyone else. They believe that by focusing on hard work, good strategies, and input from others they can succeed at anything they do. Let’s take a look at why having a growth mindset is so important and what skills one should adopt to help change the way they learn.


Those with Growth Mindsets are the Most Successful Employees

Your ability to learn and apply new information will determine how quickly you advance in your workplace.

More importantly, your ability to learn will determine if you have a job in the first place. We are in the middle of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Technology, robotics and artificial intelligence are replacing “traditional jobs” in all industries. According to The World Economic Forum:  “To embrace this change, we must focus on upskilling and reskilling.

According to Forbes, over 60 million jobs in the U.S. have been permanently lost as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies to fast-track being less reliant on real people. “Banking and financial services employees, factory workers and office staff will seemingly face the loss of their jobs—or need to find a way to reinvent themselves in this brave new world. Millions would need to be reskilled to cope with the change.”

To succeed in an ever-changing ever-expanding workforce everyone will need to learn and acquire new skills throughout their life.


Successful Students Have a Growth Mindset

Good grades in high school are not a good predictor of grades in University.

A research paper by 2 university professors, Felice Martinello and Ross Finnie, is consistent with previous research. Their comparison of the average grades from students’ last year of high school to first year of university revealed:

  • About 23% saw their grade plummet by TWO letter grades or more!!!
  • Nearly half of the students saw their marks decline by ONE whole letter grade!
  • About 25% maintained averages consistent with their high school marks
  • 2.5% of students saw their grades improve

Why do most students experience a decrease in their marks in university? Most people go through high school not realizing that school is not about learning information and memorizing facts, then regurgitating it on assignments and tests. 

Education is about discovering your own way of learning. Having a growth mindset is about trying different methods of learning, assessing your learning process, and improving the learning process. 


Successful Entrepreneurs Have a Growth Mindset

A quote attributed to Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

The ability to adapt hinges on one’s ability to set high goals and learn from one’s failures thereby improving the process. Ray Dalio ($18.7 billion net worth) one of the top 10 investors of all time summarizes the process best:

“ Learning is the product of a continuous real-time feedback loop in which we make decisions, see their outcomes, and improve our understanding of reality as a result. Being radically open-minded enhances the efficiency of those feedback loops because it makes what you are doing, and why, so clear to yourself and others that there can’t be any misunderstandings. The more open-minded you are, the less likely you are to deceive yourself—and the more likely it is that others will give you honest feedback. If they are “believable” people (and it’s very important to know who is “believable”), you will learn a lot from them. Being radically transparent and radically open-minded accelerates this learning process.  It can also be difficult because being radically transparent rather than more guarded exposes one to criticism.  It’s natural to fear that.  Yet if you don’t put yourself out there with your radical transparency, you won’t learn.”- Ray Dalio

The 3rd and 5th richest people in the world are university drop-outs:

  • Bill Gates ($119.3 billion net worth)
  • Mark Zuckerberg ($96.4 billion net worth) 

They both dropped out of Harvard. They also have something else in common, they both have a growth mindset! By the time they were admitted into Harvard they had already mastered the science and art of learning, they did not need anyone to guide their learning process anymore.


Your Journey to a Growth Mindset Starts Now

Right now is the only time you will ever have. It is never too late to improve your learning. In fact, those who have developed a growth mindset are always looking for ways to learn better. If you do not give deep thought to how you learn and improve your learning process you will continue to put in a great effort and get meagre results. So what does it mean to develop a growth mindset?

Embrace Challenges and Work Outside Your Comfort Zone

Working outside of your comfort zone can be uncomfortable and challenging. You may not know what to expect in a new environment and that can be scary. But by pushing ourselves just outside of our comfort zone, and pushing ourselves into unfamiliar places, we create a space that allows for growth and improvement.

Persist in the Face of Setbacks and Rejection

The truth is, everyone faces rejection and setbacks. However, those rejections do not define who you are, instead, you are defined by how you respond to these things. If you want to be successful, you need to persist in the face of adversity. If a door closes, find another one that will open for you. Turn your defeats into victories by learning from them and using them as fuel for your fire.

Learn from Feedback and Criticism

Feedback is a powerful tool for improving your performance. Positive feedback reinforces your strengths and corrects any minor mistakes. Negative feedback helps you to reflect on your actions, helping you course-correct and improve. Master the art of giving and receiving feedback to improve both your learning and the learning of those around you.

Find Lessons and Inspiration in the Success of Others

Many others have walked the same journey that you are walking now. Some of them have succeeded and some of them have failed. Use their journeys as a way to both inspire you to follow in their footsteps and as a lesson for what not to do.

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