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What’s your Mindset? How to turn failure into a gift

Written By | Oct 26, 2016

WASHINGTON, October 26, 2016 – When I was growing up, things seemed so much more black and white; the opposite of win was lose; the opposite of big was little; the opposite of tall was short; and the opposite of failure was success. Or so I thought.

As I grew up, I began to realize that there is a lot of gray area scattered throughout every facet of our lives. I learned life wasn’t just this way or that way and that there are many different ways to look at a given situation.

For example, the way I view failure now is that it is most certainly not the opposite of success. It is instead an integral part of success. In fact, the experience of failure is probably where we acquire most of our learning. For that reason, when I started to become familiar with the research of Carol Dweck, Ph.D., the paradoxes of life and experience really started to make sense.

In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Dweck discusses how we can learn to fulfill our potential and the influence it has on our business, relationships, schooling and parenting. Her research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

Book jacket photo, "Mindset."

Book jacket photo, “Mindset.”

It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.

So how can this simple belief have the power to transform your life? How does it affect you in your career, classroom, and the relationships in which you are currently involved?

The latest neuroscience research shows that human beings have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than ever thought before. People begin the process of learning with different temperaments and aptitudes, and it is clear that experience, training, and personal effort can influence the outcome.

According to Dweck, people having two mindsets, a “fixed” mindset and a “growth” mindset. The fixed mindset is where you believe your qualities are set in stone, so the need arises to prove yourself over and over.

Dweck says that for every situation that comes up it calls for a confirmation of your intelligence, personality, or character leading to the belief that the traits we’re born with or develop at a young age are set in stone. For example, we evaluate every situation like this:

  • Will I succeed or fail?
  • Will I look smart or dumb?
  • Will I be accepted or rejected?
  • Will I fell like a winner or loser?

Now let’s look at the growth mindset. The belief here is that we have certain qualities and that we can cultivate them through our efforts… that everyone can grow and change through application and experience.

People with the growth mindset believe that a person’s true potential is unknown.

Here are a few facts that Dweck points out: Darwin and Tolstoy were ordinary children; Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was uncoordinated as a child; Cindy Sherman, a photographer who photographed virtually all of the important artists of the twentieth century, failed her first photography class, and so on.

It’s easy to see how the belief that “cherished qualities” can be developed creates a passion for learning. Dweck believes, and with good reason, that you should not waste time proving over and over how great you are when you can spend your time getting better. She asks

“Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? Why seek out the tried and true instead of experiencing that which will stretch you?”

So what type of mindset do you have? How has it influenced your life? When you believe that your qualities are set in stone (fixed) it leads to a host of limited thoughts and actions. A belief that your qualities can be cultivated conversely leads you to very different thoughts and actions.

The growth mindset focuses on development, and from this space ideas, challenges, and effort occur. With the fixed mindset, challenges and effort are not valued.

So you are at a fork in the road. What path will you choose to take?


For more Information Contact:

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Career Coach focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies and Transition, Certified Mediator.
Twitter: @SelfTalkCoach
301-706-7226 & 703-574-0039!/susan.samakow

Ask Susan about her coaching packages and the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.


Susan Samakow

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, is a Certified Business, Life and Leadership Coach. Susan focuses on life and career transition, business and leadership, and confidence and resilience strategies. Susan is also a speaker and facilitator, as well as a Community Content Producer for WUSA 9 TV. She is the former president of the ICF Metro DC Chapter, the largest in North America. Susan’s clients are individuals, any size business and the government. Visit Susan’s website: Susan is on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.