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Learning From Failure

Failure can be a devastating thing in our life. We prepare and prepare for something coming up in the future only to have it turn out different than we planned. Failure can cause set backs, delays, or cause us to give up all together.

Fixed vs Growth

But, what if there was another way to look at failure. Instead of approaching life with a pass/fail attitude, what if we looked at life as a constant opportunity to grow? In her book Mindset, author Carol Dweck distinguishes these two outlooks as a fixed vs growth mindset. The fixed mindset has the pass/fail outlook. The growth mindset looks at all part of life as an opportunity to learn and grow.

To help define the fixed mindset, Dweck uses a series of examples throughout the book. Individuals with the fixed mindset assume that you are born with certain traits that will determine your success in life. You are either smart or dumb. You are either strong or weak. Those who are successful in life got there because of luck or because of some advantage you don’t have access to. If you fail, it means you are no good and should move on to something else.

The growth mindset is the exact opposite. Here, you look at someone’s effort and determination as the primary factor of what happens in their life. Someone isn’t successful because they got lucky. Instead, they are successful because they tried hard at every step of the way. You aren’t born smart or dumb, you always have a chance to recognize your weaknesses and work to strengthen them. When it comes to failure, there is no pass or fail. When someone doesn’t go your way, it is an opportunity to learn why and fix it for the future.

Learning From Life

To help summarize Dweck’s message, motivational speakers will say things like, “It isn’t a failure if you learned something.” There are practical steps you can take in life to make sure you have a similar mindset when approaching challenges. Instead of playing the blame game when something doesn’t go your way, write down what you learned from the experience. Take responsibility for the outcome and make sure you grow better from it. Effort over everything. That is the way you succeed.