There’s a lot that can go wrong, but there’s also a lot that can go right.
Which are you focused on?
Here are the top traits which indicate a growth mindset.
1) Having ambition
First of all, you have to want it!
People with a growth mindset have a hunger inside.
It can’t be easily satisfied, in fact it’s limitless.
They love the journey and no matter how many mountain peaks they reach, it’s not the plateau or the adrenaline rush they’re after:
It’s the journey itself.
If you’re looking for a growth mindset, look for people who have a fire in their belly that can’t be put out.
2) Planning big
Instead of just setting modest and small goals, they set big goals.
A growth mindset is not interested in pie-in-the-sky daydreaming.
When I say big goals I don’t mean vague or fantastical ideas like becoming randomly famous on YouTube and becoming a millionaire next month.
If the goal is to become big on YouTube and get wealthy, it has a plan that will lead there and has multiple fallback options for what to do to reroute or change plan if and when it fails.
Throughout any of their big plans, the person with a growth mindset is focused on:
3) Looking ahead
People with a scarcity mindset are focused on worries about the future and regret over the past.
They have big trouble taking a risk because of fear something could go wrong, and they’re preoccupied with problems of the past and rethinking old regrets.
Folks with a growth mindset, by contrast are all about looking ahead.
Sure, they’ll consider the past and assess its lessons for the future. But they’re never a glutton for punishment.
They know that all of our power lies in the present moment and that our power lies in maximizing our own self-actualization in the present moment over and over again.
4) Anticipating problems
Part of following through on big plans and looking ahead is anticipation of problems.
Many self-help gurus and coaches these days emphasize a kind of Law of Attraction message where positive thinking will manifest the ideal reality.
This is bogus.
While it’s true that opening up to opportunities and thinking big are valuable tools and will widen your perception, it’s also true that over-optimism and too much positivity without realism have sunk many dreams before they could take off.
Those with a true growth mindset anticipate problems.
They think about “what if.”
Not out of negativity, but out of realism and having some back up plans for if things go a little sideways.
5) Learning from obstacles
The next of the crucial traits of somebody with a growth mindset is that they learn from obstacles.
When things go wrong or the situation on the ground changes, the growth-oriented individual adjusts their sales.
Sometimes they rethink a business strategy, a relationship or an investment.
Sometimes they talk to somebody else who’s had similar obstacles and learn from them.
Sometimes they crash and burn regardless and have to take away certain personal and professional lessons from what happened.
Which brings me to the next point:
6) Facing failure and disappointment
Next up in the traits of a growth-oriented individual is that they face failure and disappointment instead of running away.
Far more people than we think simply never face disappointment and failure.
It happens to them, of course, it happens to all of us.
But most of us find ways to run away from the full realization of failure or disappointment.
We try to find a quick hit of pleasure in food, sex, drugs, work, drink or vacations. We take our phone with us everywhere so we don’t have to spend time alone.
The growth-minded individual doesn’t hide from pain and disappointment.
He or she sits with it and internalizes it.
There are valuable lessons in failure, and there’s no shame in failing after an honest try.
The only true shame is in never really trying at all, as the below clip from the 2011 comedy Take Me Home Tonight perfectly encapsulates.
7) Mental and emotional resilience
Growth minded individuals know that inner growth and progress will always mean more than any outward marker.
You can have all the praise, fame and wealth in the world, but if you doubt your own value on the inside, it won’t get you anywhere.
The growth-minded person develops mental and emotional resilience through meditation, exercise, therapy, coursework and social and romantic connection.
He or she understands that being able to weather the storm is sometimes the difference between making it to the next chapter of life or self-sabotaging in truly permanent ways.
8) Innovating and exploring
Growth minded people are always exploring and innovating.
Through the ups and downs of the process, including the failures, they are absorbing and learning.
Whether this means new ways of running a business, creating technology or connecting with others, they don’t rule out any opportunities.
While many others may get into a routine and forget about changing things up, the growth-minded person embraces change and is eminently adaptable to the changes that come.
This is the way!
9) Seeing opportunity where others see locked doors
Part of this exploration process is most certainly about perceptiveness.
As the motivational coach Tony Robbins says, when most people complain about not having enough resources what they really are lacking is resourcefulness.
Where other people see locked doors, the growth-minded man or woman sees completely different opportunities.
They not only want to grow and innovate on what already exists, they may put together other ideas and concepts into new theories and technologies that nobody has even thought of before.
They are also able to make a lot out of a little.
There are two main scenarios for this:
- The first is necessity, for example in the 1960s in Vietnam American servicemen were surprised to see villagers made sandals out of pieces of old rubber tires. This is when necessity drives innovation and filling your needs even when others might just walk barefoot.
- The second is voluntary innovation: when privilege and drive creates the conditions to come up with new ideas and avenues for progress, whether that’s the development of the modern computer or the discovery and invention of penicillin.
10) Rethinking ideas
Part of seeing new opportunities is rethinking ideas and approaches in the face of frustration or slowdowns.
For example, if the growth-minded person opens a laundromat business in a busy area of town and it does very poorly, he or she has two basic options.
The first is to give up and figure that a laundromat is just a bad business idea, at least within his or her price range.
The second is to take a deeper look at the business model and why it might not be working and then beta test alternatives.
For example, maybe that part of town is busy but has high crime especially at night! Not a good recipe for a busy laundromat that people want to go to…
Or maybe the location is ideal, but it hasn’t been sufficiently marketed and passersby are barely even noticing the size and location of signage on the street.
Those with a growth mindset aren’t afraid to change course, but they also pay attention to the details and rethink ideas when something isn’t going how they had expected.
11) Finding allies
The next trait of a growth-oriented individual is an affinity for networking and finding allies.
This means solid communication skills and being able to suss out the kind of people who will move something forward or hold it back.
In a personal context this could come down to discernment about who to get more serious with in dating.
In a professional context this could be related to a scenario in which the growth-oriented person has to decide who to partner up with in business or to find a good job.
Those who want to grow know that you’re always stronger together and that a professional and social network is more powerful than any bulked-up CV.
12) Looking for win-win scenarios
Last up in terms of the traits displayed by those with a growth mindset is the desire for mutuality.
This can broadly be called affability and collaborativeness.
Those who want to grow aren’t focused on outdoing the competition, they’re focused on moving the ball forward overall.
They want to grow, innovate and collaborate in whatever way moves the mission forward.
We all like some credit and earnings from the fruits of our labors.
But apart from receiving fair compensation and basic credit, growth-minded people are more than open to win-win opportunities, collaboration and partnering up.
It’s not about the ego, it’s about the mission and the objective.
Building a solid foundation
The truth is that you either have a growth mindset or a scarcity mindset.
A growth mindset still has low moments, crises and times of deep disappointment.
But the difference is this:
When times get hard the growth mindset is still mission-focused and action-oriented.
Success is never guaranteed, but if you try as hard as you can then there is one guarantee you can always rely on.
You will continue to grow.