Cam Taylor

Be inspired. Be focused. Be tenacious.

The Mindset You Can’t Live Without

One of the supporting walls needed when rebuilding your life after a major setback, injury, or reversal is a proper mindset. The right mindset makes the journey back promising – the wrong mindset, makes the journey back dreadful.


“You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” (Zig Ziglar)

As I make my way back to full speed ahead on the road called “new normal,” I’m finding one of the greatest battles is the battle going on in my mind. One bit of wisdom helping me think straight is a clear understanding of the two mindset choices I have before me.

Two Basic Mindsets in Life*

  • A fixed mindset

This is the belief that you have a limited amount of intelligence, personality, character, and attributes at your disposal. You believe these assets are permanent and live with a sense of urgency from the feeling of needing to always prove yourself.

  • A growth mindset

This is the belief that your basic qualities can be developed through effort. It is a mindset that believes everyone can increase their talent and aptitude and a person’s potential is unpredictable. What determines your outcome is the amount of drive, energy and determination you put into your task or goal.

A Example from History

The familiar Bible story of David and Goliath is a perfect example of the two mindsets at work. The people of Israel, under the leadership King Saul, were bogged down in their fight against the Philistines. Goliath stood in their way – he was almost 10 feet tall, wore 126 pounds of armor and put a paralyzing fear within every soldier.

King Saul’s army had a fixed mindset. They were convinced they didn’t have the talent or ability to win. They believed they had reached the limit of their resources and could go no further.

Then David walks into their camp.

David was a shepherd boy who was bringing lunch to his older brothers. When he heard Goliath taunting the Israelites and making fun of their God, he responded with a growth mindset. He quickly volunteered to fight the giant, surprised no one else seemed up for the challenge. He wasn’t limited by a fixed mindset but believed that with God’s help, and his prior experience of killing lions, he could once again rise to this particular challenge – which he in fact did.

An Example from Education

Another place we can look to see how much difference a growth mindset makes is from the arena of education.

It’s a common belief that praise is necessary to instill confidence and inspire achievement in students. The kind of praise and mindset you develop when you give the praise, however, does make a difference.

This was demonstrated in a study done with two groups of adolescent students. Each group was given the same IQ test but with two different forms of praise. One group received praise for their ability and special talent saying things like, “You are so talented and smart!” The other group was praised for their hard work and effort being told words like, “You are such hard workers and show incredible effort!”

Both groups were equal in IQ initially but over time, the students who received praise for their natural talent and told they were smart, saw their test scores drop and eventually gave up. They felt inadequate, had high anxiety and felt the need to constantly prove themselves.

In contrast, the other group who were told they were hard workers, developed a growth mindset and welcomed harder and harder tests because they believed if they worked harder, they could improve and succeed. This proved to be true.

What You Believe Matters

It’s not intelligence or raw talent that determines your success in life – it’s your mindset. If you believe in your ability to grow and learn and adapt to a changing situation, you will expand beyond what you first thought was possible.

If you believe your best days are behind you and feel like you have reached the limit of your potential, your fixed mindset will cause you to settle and shrink back.

For me, I’m focused now on re-entering the ordinary world of work after a few years of recovery and frequent work interruptions. My greatest asset to re-entry is not my raw talent or ability but the belief in my ability to work hard and put effort into learning what I need to learn to get to where I’m going. The past is gone and with it the opportunities I once had, but I’m refusing to stay stuck in the past.

Today I’m choosing to grow forward, adopt a growth mindset, and learn what I need to learn so I can work with focus and determination and seize the new opportunities before me.

What mindset is your default position?
In what area of your life do you need to adopt a growth mindset?

* Source: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck

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About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

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