1 Simple Question to Discover If You Have Mindset of Success (or of Failure)

carol dweck mindset of success cartoon

The 1 Question Quiz You Can’t Fail

Are you sure you have the mindset of success and are instilling it in those closest to you? Here’s a simple one-question quiz to find out.

If you get it right, good news: You probably have the mindset of success, and can save yourself a minute by not reading on.

And if you get it wrong, even better news: You have the opportunity to develop a mindset of success and improve your life!

You can’t lose!


The Quiz

Imagine your eight-year-old daughter enters the cutthroat world of competitive rock-paper-scissors. She is talented and hard-working. In her first year she wins her school, city, and regional championships but, at the nationals, loses in heartbreaking fashion. Now she’s crying in your arms. What do you say to instil in her a mindset of success?

  1. “You didn’t deserve to win, dear.”
  2. “You had a bad day. Next year you’ll win.”
  3. “Who cares? Rock-paper-scissors is silly. Let’s get some ice cream.”
  4. “You rocked…. but you should have paper-ed. Bad break. There are no guarantees. That’s life.”
  5. “Do I know you? Who is this loser crying in my arms?”

Only one answer is correct. Which do you choose?

(Remember, you can’t lose.)

Answers For a Mindset of Failure

If you chose to say something like “Who cares anyways?,” “Bad break,” or “You had a bad day,” you have yet to learn the mindset of success.

The problem with these answers is they encourage your daughter to have success-hindering behavior like ignoring useful negative feedback, believing she’s either a winner or a loser, and seeing failure as a setback. By behaving this way, she will develop a narrow self-perception of who she is and who she isn’t, and she will avoid seeking challenges that confront these beliefs.

This type of thinking is what Carol Dweck, Stanford professor and world-renowned motivation researcher, calls a “fixed mindset”. It’s the mindset of failure.

Failure doesn’t mean losing.  Even with a fixed mindset there’s a chance that your daughter could come back to win the rock-paper-scissors national championships next year. Nevertheless, based on Dweck’s research, this “success” will be short-lived. With her fixed mindset she’ll never push herself to her full potential (in fear of challenging her narrow self-perception) and when she inevitably loses she may never recover.

The Answer That Leads To A Mindset of Success

The only answer that leads to a mindset of success is:

  1. “You didn’t deserve to win, dear.”

Saying so forces your daughter to ask herself why she didn’t deserve to win, to seek out and analyze useful negative feedback, and to realize that her painful losing experience is a valuable tool to improve moving forward. She won’t develop a limited, winner-take-all self-perception, but one where she understands she can always be better and that her most important competitor is herself. This, in the words of Carl Dweck is a “growth mindset,” the mindset of success.

Learning to think this way may be a hard pill to swallow at first, but it creates the mindset of success in the long run. Even if your daughter loses again next year, she will continue to grow towards her full potential—whether that be in rock-paper-scissors or (hopefully) elsewhere.

Mindset is Everywhere

The concepts of fixed and growth mindset apply everywhere in life, not just in the world of rock-paper-scissors.  They apply to your employees, your relationships, your children, and, of course, your own personal development.

If you want to sustainably and predictably succeed at life, it’s your only option. So serve yourself a big slice of humble pie, admit you’re not god’s gift to anything but instead a never-ending work-in-progress, and adopt a growth mindset, the mindset of success.

Dig Deeper

Decades after first publishing her groundbreaking research and coining the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”, Carol Dweck’s breakthrough insights continues to change the lives of millions by cementing within them the mindset of success. If you want to understand how do so for yourself and those around you, check out her book Mindset.

And for more books that will teach you how live live a more awesome life, check out the Shortcut to Awesome Best Ofs lists.

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