One of the greatest struggles in life is the battle for a sense of control. It’s easy to feel like our lives our in the hands of fate. But, that isn’t entirely the case. In the 2011 film 50/50, Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a 27-year-old journalist who is suddenly diagnosed with cancer. One of the most pivotal scenes takes during one of his therapy sessions. He finds himself annoyed, frustrated by his mother’s incessant need to reach out and talk to him as he battles his disease. After he shares this with his therapist, she gives him a sound piece of advice:
“You can’t change who your parents are, the only thing that you can change is how you choose to deal with that.”
There are a number of things that influence our daily lives. Many of those things – bills, culture, parents – are beyond our control. But there is one thing we can control: our mindset. While mindset may seem like a simple problem that only influences a small portion of our lives, it can actually have far reaching effects.
Success and the Single Mindset
In her 2006 smash hit Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck created two distinct categories for mindset.
People with a fixed mindset found themselves in a rut. Too afraid of failure to ever take a risk. The problem with this mindset is it makes growth stagnate. Nothing lost, nothing gained.
“When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world — the world of fixed traits — success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other — the world of changing qualities — it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.”
The growth mindset, in contrast, creates many opportunities for success. Failures are viewed as learning experiences instead of permanent loses. The focus is on mastery through growth. This allows us to take our losses on the chin with a sense that being knocked down doesn’t mean being knocked out. Switching from a fixed to a growth mindset helps encourage our growth and foster success. It’s a small switch, but one that is inherently worthwhile.
Stuck in a Mental Rut
Getting stuck in a rut is surprisingly easy. We get up, get dressed, go to work. We find ourselves staying in the same job, the same town, the same place. In a way, it can be easier to give into the cyclical inertia of our lives. Sometimes the best thing we can do to shake ourselves out of a mental rut is to simply let go.
Think Wrong: How to Conquer the Status Quo and Do Work That Matters offers great insight into the importance of letting go of comfortable ideas. Being unafraid to let go and seek new ideas creates new options.
“The more ideas you have, the more options. Think of it like cooking. There’s a reality food show where contestants can win an advantage over competitors by getting more pantry items. The more ingredients, the more primed they are to create a stellar dish. The Let Go Practice helps you amass the largest set of possibilities for your solution, thus expanding the creative resources at your disposal.”
This may seem contradictory to The ONE Thing practices, but it actually can be beneficial. Finding the right ONE thing can be difficult. Taking the time to let go of old notions and believe in unending possibilities gives us fresh eyes on a problem. Sometimes more is simply more. But when we are stuck new ideas can catapult us out of our mental ruts and into realization.
Know Your Thinking Style
Knowing what type of think you are can be just as important to success. Not all problem solving techniques work for everyone. We don’t all learn the same ways. And we don’t all process information in a similar fashion. Learning to identify how you think is an important step in creating success. It helps clarify our understanding of ourselves, and helps us work better with others.
So how do we figure that out? Luckily the people at Foursight have figured that out for us! After years of research, Foursight has created four major “thinker” categories:
Clarifiers and Ideators are counterpoints with the former researching specifics and the latter creating big ideas. Developers have finesse for making sure the right idea is chosen. Implementers are the go-getters, bottom of the 9th, get things done types. Learning which type of thinker you are positions yourself for a win in the future. You learn more about who you are, how to tackle new problems, and where you fit in a team.
People have known throughout history that there is power to knowing yourself. The ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” speaks to this. Descartes declared “I think therefore I am.” While these phrases may seem cliché, they’re not wrong. Taking the time to learn how you think can help inform who you are. Creating a better mindset, learning how you best solve a puzzle, and getting out of our mental ruts helps us evolve. When we know how we think we can change how we think. And when we change how we think, we change who we have the potential to become. As Steve Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Figuring out who we are is all part of finding our purpose. If you need some help, check out our My Purpose worksheet to help get you started! Let us know what kind of thinker you are or fun things you do to shake things up on our Facebook page.