“True self-confidence is ‘the courage to be open –to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.’ Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.” ~ Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (excerpt from Mindset by Carol Dweck)
In order to realize our full potential, we must focus our energy on growth. If we are constantly seeking to prove our superiority, we may experience initial success, but never sustainability. If we seek praise for our natural intelligence and abilities, rather than our hard work and determination, we will begin to steer away from challenging tasks that allow us to improve. If we strive for perfection, we will avoid failure at all costs, and never learn the limits of our potential.
In today’s world everyone wants to protect themselves and others from failure. Our society is infiltrated with the fixed mindset. We all think that failure is a reflection of our very being. If I take a math test and “fail,” I must not be any good at math. If I strike out in a baseball game, then I must be a terrible hitter. If I get rejected from my top choice for med school, then I must not have what it takes to be a doctor. That’s all a load of horse crap. To fail is a blessing. To fail is a gift. To fail is the single most powerful tool that can help us grow. See, failure isn’t the end. Failure is the beginning. It gives us feedback. It lets us know what to work on and how we can improve.
My low score on my math test gives me feedback. It lets me know that what I did to prepare was insufficient. In order to do better on the next one, I will need to reassess my note-taking in class, change the way I do the homework problems and re-evaluate the ways that I prepare for the test. I will continue to make adjustments and work hard until I progress. If I strike out, it doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible hitter. It means that the pitcher beat me that one time. But for my next at bat, I’m going to take what I learned and adjust my approach. I will use my new information to punish the pitcher the next opportunity I get.
Too often, we experience failure when we first try something and give up. Or maybe we have experienced success for a long time, and then advance to a new level and strike out. Rather than wiping ourselves off, gathering all the feedback possible and actually putting in some hard work, we throw our hands up in exasperation and say well, I guess I was never really that good anyways.
Now I’m not saying that we can all be Valedictorians at Harvard, Major League Baseball players, or CEO’s, but with the growth mindset, by welcoming
failure feedback and working hard, we can certainly all realize our potential.