The Fundamental Principle of Personal Development

I have a cute niece, a beautiful, seven years old girl. One of her friends wanted to celebrate her birthday in an indoor climbing gym. She told us that she wouldn’t try indoor climbing, because she never did that in her life before. I told her that she was too young to say that and she should try it at least once. When a seven years old child says that, we find that cute and funny. However, we grown ups use the same excuse all the time.

Here are some examples of the things that we would like to do but don’t dare to. Feel free to add your favorite to the list.

  • I can’t start a business.
  • I can’t dance.
  • I can’t speak in front of an audience.
  • I can’t ski.
  • I can’t become a salesperson.
  • I can’t play a musical instrument.
  • I can’t start a blog or a YouTube channel.

And our excuses.

  • I’ve never done that before.
  • I’ve tried it before and failed.
  • I don’t have talent.
  • I’m bad at …
  • I’m too young.
  • I’m too old.
  • I have a family to take care of.

And the list goes on.

Excuses are useless.

Now think about a skill that you want to improve. Find a skill that is important for your life and your career. For example, public speaking. Ask the following questions to yourself or adapt them to your chosen skill.

  • Are you ready to fail a few speeches in front of your friends, colleagues, or total strangers?
  • Are you ready to persist even if you fail your first dozen or more attempts?
  • Are you ready to receive negative feedback and criticism and try to learn something from them?
  • Are you ready to put in countless hours of effort to make marginal improvements?
  • Are you ready to go out of your comfort zone and face your challenges?
  • Are you ready to do step onto the stage in front of an audience no matter how scared you are?
  • How do you feel when you see a successful public speaker? Do they inspire you? Do you feel that you can succeed too?

Congratulations, if you answered yes to most of these questions. You have the growth mindset. According to Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of the book Mindset, the growth mindset is what separates the successful people from the rest. It is the fundamental principle of personal development.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” G.K. Chesterton

The opposite of the growth mindset is the fixed mindset.

  • People with the fixed mindset don’t try something new.
  • They ignore the activities which involve a chance of failure.
  • They don’t want to look bad.
  • They give up when they don’t succeed at the first time.
  • They are unwilling to put in the necessary effort to excel in an activity.
  • They are afraid of criticism.
  • They take criticism personal and try to defend themselves instead of learning something from it.
  • They remain in their comfort zone unless they are forced out of it.
  • They ignore the successes of others. They are either jealous or feel threatened.

Can I change my mindset?

Yes, you can change your mindset. All it takes is mindfulness. Spend effort to remain aware of your mindset throughout your day. When you face a challenge, ask yourself if your thoughts are based on the growth mindset or the fixed mindset. Let the thoughts of fixed mindset go and replace them with thoughts of growth mindset. This will be difficult at the beginning and it will require conscious effort by your side. However, you’ll adopt the growth mindset in time and this will be second nature.

It is normal to have different mindsets in different areas of your life. For example, you might have a growth mindset in your career. However, you might have a fixed mindset in your relationships life. This is no problem. All you have to do is to be more mindful in your relationships life, let the fixed mindset go, and adopt the growth mindset.