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How to Win at Life: Embrace a Beginner's Mindset

Never stop learning, never stop growing. Embracing a beginner's mindset to thrive during difficult times.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

"How to win in life:

1. work hard

2. complain less

3. listen more

4. try, learn, grow

5. don't let people tell you it can't be done

6. make no excuses"

- Germany Kent

Simple advice.

Yet when life throws us curveballs, we spiral down the rabbit hole of despair. We focus on what we have not accomplished vs. what we have.

We let failures and shortcomings define our future success and give up on our dreams in fear of the outcome.

Instead of thriving in life, we end up feeling stuck.

Culture of On Demand

We are a culture of instant gratification. We are driven by immediate reward through likes, followers, and status. We become quickly discouraged and give up when our efforts do not get instant validation.

We value results over process, continuously looking for quick fixes to our problems.

Google any topic and find a fast-track way to success.

"Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days!"

"Become {insert expert profession here} Overnight!"

It's clear, we want to change, and we want it now.

But what happens when our expectations don't match the reality. We lose 10 pounds in 10 days only to gain it all back and then some within a month.

The Power of Yet

Carol Dweck, the author of The Growth Mindset, explores the difference between having a fixed and growth mindset.

Dweck defines a growth mindset in an individual who believes talents and skills can be developed over time through hard work, coaching feedback, and good strategies. 

"The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives."

— Carol S. Dweck

A fixed mindset, however, is a belief that skills and abilities are set in stone. These individuals avoid challenges where they may fail, avoid uncertainty, disengage, and avoid situations that may validate that they don't have that talent.

A fixed mindset fails to acknowledge the power of yet. Perceiving failure as the outcome and end game. Leading us to give up when we don't succeed immediately.

Believing in the power of yet, failure becomes apart of the process, not the result. Through mistakes, failings, and lack of accomplishment, we get a step closer to the desired outcomes. Knowing not all results will be getting it right the first time. 

The power is in the process, and with sustained effort, abilities develop into enormous growth.

Why Mindset Matters

Think about major accomplishments in your life.

Did it come overnight?

Did it happen on the first try?

Probably not. It took iteration, exploration, and failure to get to success. Think back on the process. What did you learn from it? The process is where the sense of achievement happens. When you allow yourself to explore the opportunities of uncertainty, you open your world to new possibilities.

With a fixed mindset, we believe that everything is already determined. We limit the world to what we already know we are capable of and do not allow for the possibility of discovering new talents, new abilities, new passions, and expertise.

We give up. Get stuck. Admit defeat and believe we are limited. Accept that our goal is outside of our abilities. We consider our attempt a failure and a waste of effort.

A growth mindset is an opposite. Stepping into perceived failure and using it as a chance to try again. 

The Power of the Unprofessional

"Not knowing what you're doing forces you to get started, learn, grow, iterate, help others, make friends, hang out with a farmer, and dial your ego down so you can do the best work of your life." - Tim Denning

In his article, Tim Denning praises the power of the unprofessional. He explains how the self-proclaimed know-it-alls know nothing.

When you know nothing, a sense of urgency comes over you and forces you to learn and master that skill. Your lack of expertise allows you to shut up and listen. To ask questions and force you to figure it out quickly.

We are scared to admit we aren't qualified to do something. We get held back by fear of being found out. So we give up without trying.

In a world where everyone is claiming to be the master, your power comes from having no idea.

A Beginner's Mindset

Maybe, you're like me. You went to school, got a degree, followed a career path, and are at a point where there it feels like there is no place else to go.

Maybe you found some success, but you feel you are coasting on auto-pilot vs. thriving.

Look back to when you were developing your career. What brought you the most joy and excitement?

For me, it was in being a beginner. I had no clue what I was doing when I impulsively moved to NYC and started Culinary School. No plan, no path, no predetermined outcome in sight. I just had a passion and calling for something that brought me joy and wanted to follow that feeling.

With no assumptions or judgments, choose to explore every opportunity with an open mind.

What Holds Us Back Now?

It's simple.

Fear of failure.

Fear of uncertainty.

Fear of not being good enough.

Fear of being judged, viewed as weak.

Are you willing to accept a mediocre life when you can have a great one?

Shift the perspective and use fear to your advantage. When we feel fear, it's often the universe showing us it's time to grow.

Don't retreat when you don't know.

Instead:

- Ask questions, take advice, and learn from others.

- Use it as an opportunity to grow outside your comfort zone and become something new.

- Remember mastery comes from attempting and failing.

- Explore the opportunities with an open mind.

- Put your own spin on the knowledge you learn.

Nothing in life is set in stone. Just because things have always been done a certain way, does not mean it is the only way. A beginner has the value to see a new approach to the standard accepted way and innovation comes from challenging common beliefs.

Nobody likes change, uncertainty, or the unknown. It is inherent to seek comfort and stability. But it is in the unknown where you find the greatest reward. When you stop learning, you stop growing.

"Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It's about seeing things in a new way. When people...change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth take plenty of time, effort, and mutual support."

— Carol S. Dweck

Become a beginner in life. Embrace a growth mindset

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Katherine Bennett
Katherine Bennett
Read next: The Deception of Instagram
Katherine Bennett

Professional chef. Sharing stories, secrets, and recipes from behind the line of a professional kitchen.

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