We must win in mind first before winning actual battle

Update: 2021-07-24 23:55 IST

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Success is a buzzword in contemporary times and nearly every endeavour's utility is measured primarily in terms of whether it succeeded or not. While success enjoys widespread currency as a term and concept, it simultaneously appears something people find hard to achieve and hanker for. Difficulties often seem inordinate and the space to grow and learn, exceedingly limited. With mounting expectations and relentless competition blurring our visions, it might seem hard to keep an eye open for worthy opportunities. Yet, like all battles worth being fought, the quest for success is won first in the mind.


As Stanford professor Carol Dweck describes in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, those with a fixed mindset think of talent rather than effort as solely responsible for success. Fixed mindsets are by default limiting, since failure is perceived as inevitable and seen as rooted in someone's inherent lack of ability. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset "believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - brains and talent are just the starting point."


This interpretation is a good starting point to realize that to succeed, it is necessary to believe in the efficacy of the pillars that concoct success. A mindset oriented towards learning, growing, perseverance and enterprise is inevitably closer to accomplishment than one that predetermines failure. A closed mindset is, after all, a biased self-perception. Instead of critically evaluating what we lack and what skills must be acquired vis-à-vis a certain opportunity, having a closed mindset inspires inaction and by default, disqualifies us from the race.

It kills our ability to embrace risk, to trust ourselves and destroys possibilities of both good self-esteem and professional achievement. Bonnie Marcus in a Forbes article mentions how one of her clients was triggered by a remark from her boss that said, "You're not as smart as you think you are". The comment, no matter, made with what energy aggravated her deep-seated fear of not being good enough and affected her professional performance and mental well-being. This exemplifies how when a restricting belief is activated, one can boot out of a success mindset.

As opposed to this, having a growth mindset enables us to withstand the fluctuations in our personal and professional trajectories. Walt Disney, among the most illustrious creative geniuses to have ever lived, raised $15,000 to establish a company called Laugh-O-Gram, which failed and had to be shut following the close of an important distributor partner. Steven Spielberg was rejected both times he applied to attend film school at University of Southern California (USC). These disasters did not stop the icons from further endeavours. Walt Disney won twenty-two academy awards and has been universally recognised as the most noteworthy pioneer of the American animation industry. Spielberg has grossed over $8.5 billion from films he has directed and USC awarded him an honorary degree; Spielberg later became a trustee of the university.

Turning every struggle into an opportunity for boundless learning requires us to keep our minds open and resilient. The psychology of success is premised on critical evaluation of situations, determination to withstand shocks and upsets and a tenacity of purpose. Such an approach is necessary even when we're enjoying successes. Complacency leads to another possibility of closed self-identification which stagnate growth. It takes grit and sustained resolve to keep yourself successful and thus, even in our most glorious of hours, we must keep our minds open to evaluate contexts correctly. In short, the success mindset has to be sustained through highs and lows.

Inc in a survey asked America's fastest growing private company CEOs to choose qualities they would attribute to their success and determination and risk taking came out on top with 65 and 57 percent nods respectively while luck and likability found themselves at the bottom of the pile. While the most approved factors corresponded to an action-based growth mindset, the least attributed factors were marked by passivity. This is a real life demonstration of the role that mindsets have to play in determining success and exemplifies why the battle for success must be won in the mind for real life triumphs.

To quote Jim Rohn, "Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better." As opposed to a closed mindset that wishes for the former, being better is ineluctably tied to a mindset that celebrates action, responsibility and steadfastness. To succeed, will always inevitably be, among other things, a matter of the mind. The mindset will always matter and we must make it matter in the best possible ways for utmost accomplishment.

(The author is Founder, Upsurge Global, and Senior Advisor, Telangana State Innovation Council)



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