Success Mindset: Chart your Course

During challenging times, choosing a success mindset is key to charting your course to achieving your dreams.  A success mindset is also called a “growth” mindset.

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down leaving us with feelings of anxiety, fear over losing jobs and companies closing, panic over getting the virus or a feeling of being powerless over everything happening.  These are all natural feelings. However, if we want to be successful, we have to move beyond these feelings. Easier said than done, right?

This doesn’t happen easily and requires us to not only believe we can succeed, but to surround ourselves with friends and family who are positive and support us.  Reading and listening to positive content is another great way to move ourselves into a success mindset.

I love the notion of being curious.  This is another way to encourage a success mindset.  When we are curious, we seek new information and experiences.  I stumbled across this article about curiosity that you might want to read for more context.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

I learned a lot about growth versus fixed mindsets when I ventured out on my own to build a company.  Actually just a few months into it, I realized that needing everything to be “just right” before I tried it was never going to work.  I had to learn to be comfortable building the bridge while I walked across it.  It meant starting a business without every last detail figured out.

Now don’t get me wrong, at some point, all those details need to be figured out, but had I waited, I would still be at ground zero.

As someone who worked for multi-billion dollar retailers and had to ensure every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ was crossed before anything went out to stores, this was a new way of thinking.

What I learned about myself is that I had a blind spot in this area.  If asked, I would have said I had a growth mindset all along, but then as I learned the difference between growth and fixed, I realized that in some areas, I had a real fixed mindset. If I can tweak at 55 years old, so can you! It actually makes you feel younger and energized!

Growth Mindset

Examples of a growth mindset would be telling yourself:

  • “Even though my store has lost volume from being closed over COVID, I am going to work with my team and my customers and create amazing experiences every day and fight for every dollar!”
  • “I am going to use this situation to become a better leader”
  • “Even if my company closes or I lose my job, there are other possibilities and opportunities for me”
  • “Retail has forever changed, I am going to change right along with it!”

Optimism abounds when we have a growth mindset.  I am not talking about being Pollyanna with fake optimism.  That is not what this is about.  Eyes wide open and addressing obstacles as opportunities.  This turns into a success mindset.  We believe that we can be successful, regardless of the circumstances that are outside of our control, focused on the things within our control and that is where our success mindset comes from.  We say “YES I CAN”!

Fixed Mindset

I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the fixed mindset, but I do think examples are important so we can identify what this looks like.  The definition of a fixed mindset is when people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change.  It is also believed that talent alone leads to success and that effort is not required. (

One setback, one bad grade, one bad evaluation or comment from your boss can define you forever.  Does this sound familiar?  I hate to admit it but I literally have found myself suffering from this!  It can stop me in my tracks and I lose a day or a week when it happens.  My point is, even growth mindset people can slide back into a fixed mindset if the circumstances are right.

Examples of a Fixed Mindset

  • I am just frustrated so I will give up
  • If I fail, I will be a failure so I cannot take a risk
  • No matter what I do, I will still probably lose my job so why bother?
  • Corporate makes all the decisions, nothing I do will change the outcome
  • Everything has to be perfectly planned out because if it isn’t, I might receive feedback that makes me feel like a failure
  • My store has no inventory so I cannot create good customer experiences.

It is actually so easy to get caught up in the fixed mindset behaviors.

Re-Frame the Examples to Growth Mindset

Fixed mindsets are not fatal or final.  We can do something called “re-framing”.  When we re-frame something, we look at the situation differently.  Here are examples of re-framing the fixed mindset examples from above into a growth mindset.

  • FIXED:  I am just frustrated so I will just give up!
    GROWTH:  Even though I feel frustrated, I am going to consider my options.
  • FIXED: If I fail, I will be a failure so I cannot take a risk.
    GROWTH: I am going to give this a try, even if I fail, I will learn from it and try something else.
  • FIXED:  No matter what I do, I will still probably lose my job so why bother?
    GROWTH:  I am going to work as hard as I can to make my store a success.  Even if I lose my job, I will feel great about the contributions I made and will take my learnings to a new opportunity!
  • FIXED: Corporate makes all the decisions, nothing I do will change the outcome.
    GROWTH:  I can share my thoughts with my supervisor in the hopes I can influence my company.
  • FIXED: Everything has to be perfectly planned out because if it isn’t, I might receive feedback that makes me feel like a failure.
    GROWTH: I will do the best I can and if I am not sure about something, I will ask for help because asking for someone else’s perspective is not a weakness!
  • FIXED: My store has no inventory so I cannot create good customer experiences.
    GROWTH: Even though my store is light on inventory, I will make the experience great for my customers by how they are treated and will communicate when a new assortment is coming in and thank them for their loyalty and patience.

Move Past Fixed to Growth

We have to consciously decide to be growth minded.  There are multiple ways to do this, but the easiest way is to:

  • Learn to hear what your fixed mindset sounds like
  • When you hear yourself behaving in this manner, consciously tell yourself there is another way to think about the situation…and then change your fixed thinking to growth thinking. Remember you can re-frame the situation.  When we can reframe a negative thought or situation into a positive one, we are moving past fixed to a growth mindset.

The Power of Yet vs. the Tyranny of Now

Carol Dweck talks frequently about mindset.  She talks about adding “not yet” to the end of a thought.  Perhaps there is something you can’t do YET, but with practice, you will be able to do it.  I love the notion of adding “not yet” to something we are trying to do.  We may not be able to do it now, but we believe at some point we will be able to do it.  By saying I can do it, just not yet, we are learning and growing and we understand that it won’t happen overnight.

The tyranny of now says I have to get praise now, I have to do it well now and if I don’t, I am a failure.  We should praise work ethic, Carol says, not results.  When we praise results, we make people yearn for that praise which makes them do only what they know they really can do well to get the praise.

“If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be deeply unhappy for the rest of your life.  You will be evading your own capacities, your own possibilities.” Abraham Maslow

What does this all mean?

It means that what you were born with is not all you are able to be! If you have a tendency to have a fixed mindset, you can change.  Don’t be limited to what you know now. Decide what you want to do and who you want to be and go after it, knowing that you don’t know it “yet”, but you are working on it and will excel at some point.

Carol reminds us to:

  • Praise wisely…the process, the effort, strategy, improvement, perseverance is what we should recognize, not the result.
  • Use “not yet”, knowing you will learn as you go.  This will give you a feeling of success over time as you learn more.
  • We can get smarter over time if we work to learn!

Focus on having success mindsets and preparing ourselves for whatever is “next” for us post COVID.  Don’t be a victim of the pandemic, rather learn that you can be whatever you determine to be.  You can learn.  The brains and talent you were born with are just part of the equation.  It isn’t the end of the story!

It’s Your Turn

Remember, moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset means making a shift from “no I can’t” to “yes I can”.  Start listening to your thoughts and the things you say and work to reframe the situation.  Remember, this is a step by step journey.  We will have days where being growth minded comes easy and days where it is harder.  Good habits will help stay growth minded.

In your Corner,


retail consultant

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