How to Effectively Reframe Your Biggest Challenges and Failures

There are two different mindsets that largely determine the quality of results you get.

The first mindset is the fixed mindset, which is the belief that all of your characteristics and circumstances are fixed and cannot be changed. You engage in black and white thinking; either you’re inherently good or inherently bad at something. For example, believing that you’re intelligent or not, you’re good at football or you’re not, you’re a motivated person or you're not.

The second is the growth mindset. This is the belief that all of your characteristics and circumstances in life can be changed or improved. With this mindset, you realise no one is inherently skilled in a particular domain, it all comes down to how much you practice, and anybody can practice.

Someone with a fixed mindset tends to quit when they first encounter failure. They see all failure as negative and interpret it as a roadblock or even a permanent barrier to success. This would be a struggling artist that isn’t getting the recognition they deserve, so they quit. Or an entrepreneur who gives up on a business idea because nobody is buying his product. Or they might feel that they’re at such a disadvantage compared to other people, so they don’t even try. For example, someone who has a dream business idea but doesn’t feel they have the business acumen necessary to create a successful and profitable business.

People with a fixed mindset don’t have a high tolerance for failure. They see failure as harmful to their progress because they think it proves that they’re not good enough in a particular domain.

The fixed mindset can lead to a lot of neurotic emotions like anger and jealousy. If you’re not getting the results in a specific field, and then you see someone else getting the results you want in that field, it’s going to make you feel bad because you believe they are just naturally good at it. 

For example, you put some of your money into investments that performed badly, and you have a colleague at work who put money into investments that were successful. 

This might make you feel like your colleague knows a lot more about the markets than you or that they’re more intelligent than you. The fixed mindset person uses one situation as proof that they can’t achieve the same success as someone else. 

This is completely different to how someone with a growth mindset would interpret the situation. When you have a growth mindset, you’re a lot more tolerant of failure because you know it’s not detrimental to the end result. It will not shatter your chances of getting the results you want in life. You realise that failure is just a part of growing.

If your investments failed and a colleague’s investments succeeded, the person with a growth mindset sees the potential of what they can achieve if they spent more time researching the markets.

Instead of beating themselves up and labelling themselves negatively, it gives them a vision for what’s possible if they dedicate time to developing their skills.

Another key distinction between fixed and growth thinkers is the outlook on timeframes. People with a fixed mindset expect everything immediately; they want to be great right now. But life just doesn’t happen this way; nothing worth achieving happens overnight. 

People with a growth mindset are long-term thinkers. They understand that it’ll take months and years to reach their goals, they’re not expecting instant results. 


Famous People Who Overcame Obstacles

Anyone in history who has created anything exceptional has done so by operating with a growth mindset. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper company due to his lack of creativity. He then went on to win a record-breaking 32 Academy Awards and launched what is now known to be Walt Disney, a company that is worth nearly $130 billion

JK Rowling was unemployed and on welfare when she wrote down the idea for Harry Potter on a napkin. She then went on to write the actual book, which was rejected by 12 publishers. Despite the rejections, she continued to write the other six books, which have now sold over 500 million copies

James Dyson spent 15 years trying 5126 versions of his bagless vacuum design until he discovered one that worked. He then attempted to sell his vacuum to manufacturers but was rejected. Today he has a net worth of $6.8 billion.

In all of these situations, having a fixed mindset would have caused the creators to give up on their dream ideas once receiving that hit of rejection. They would’ve believed that their products would never be good enough for the marketplace.

Fortunately, they all had growth mindsets, which meant that despite the negative feedback, they persevered anyway. In order to have that type of resilience in the face of countless failures, you must have an unquestionable belief in yourself. 

A fixed mindset is synonymous with low self-esteem, and more specifically, low self-efficacy. When you think from a fixed mindset, you feel trapped in an undesirable situation and believe you lack the resources to overcome it. 

A growth mindset is synonymous with high self-efficacy. When you think from a growth mindset, you feel confident in your abilities to improve in any area you want, and challenges that you face in your life don’t feel insurmountable.


Why Practice Is Important

Developing a growth mindset starts with the realisation that anything you do in life is just about practice. Everyone knows this logically, but knowing this emotionally is much more challenging. 

When you’re in an undesirable situation, your natural inclination isn’t to you just need to practice more; your natural inclination is to think that it’s so difficult because you’re not getting what you want from the situation. Regardless of whatever situation you’re facing, keep reminding yourself that life is just practice, and this is the only way anyone gets good at anything.

The entire process of learning and growing is just trial and error. When you see successful people, we often assume that they just got it right the first time, and they were born talented. But that’s never how it works. You don’t see all the practice that goes on behind the scenes. An unbelievable amount of practice is required to become great at any craft.

Adopting the growth mindset makes you feel much more confident in your abilities. You stop comparing yourself to others because you know that these comparisons are only based on how much you’ve practised something. So if you’re not at the level you’d like to be at, you know that what’s separating you and the other person is just practice.

Whereas the person with a fixed mindset believes real differences are causing this disparity in skills and results, they take it personally and make assumptions about their personal deficiencies. This can create a lot of toxicity for the fixed mindset person.


Challenging Your Beliefs

The second step is to begin challenging any beliefs about your characteristics or circumstances being fixed. Whenever you feel stuck in a particular area of your life, ask yourself, has there ever been someone in your position that has been able to turn that around and get the results they wanted?

Any problem that you are facing, there is someone out there that has had that same problem and has found a solution. You’ll be able to find that solution in books, on the internet, through people you know. 

Most people are stuck in a fixed mindset because they have a lot of past beliefs weighing them down. For example, you want to improve your health, but you’ve been neglecting your health for the past decade. 

If past beliefs make it challenging for you to believe in yourself, you have to start with a clean slate. You can start with a clean slate at any point. Your past and present don’t determine your future. At any second of any day, you can decide to make a change.

At some point in your life, you will have made some type of positive change. It can feel like these changes are down to luck, but you have control to decide when you want to make that change.

If you want to achieve anything great in your life, you can only do that through a growth mindset. This doesn’t just apply to ambitious pursuits like starting a business; it applies to anything you want to pursue.

Here’s a list of some of the areas that are highly determined by a fixed or growth mindset: your relationships, your income, your emotions, your confidence and self-esteem, your health and physique, your intelligence, your fulfilment, your career.

Think about how it would feel to eliminate all of your limiting beliefs. The thought of starting a business and becoming a millionaire right now might seem inconceivable to you. Your mind comes up with a list of excuses; it’s so rare that people become millionaires; you have to know the right people, be extremely talented in a particular field and have years of experience. 

None of this is true. You have the same resources and abilities as a millionaire does. To become a millionaire, you just need to go through an extensive series of research, testing and failing until you find something that works for you and that works for the marketplace. It’s just a trial and error process, repeated over and over again.

If you’re able to adopt the growth mindset, then your opportunities are endless. This means that when you’re starting a business, you don’t feel worried about the success of your business because you have faith that you will be successful if you just continue working at it. 

The more firm you are in your beliefs, the less you’re affected by external problems. When the economy is suffering, when your business suffers setbacks, and things aren’t going right, you don’t feel defeated because you understand that it’s just a part of the process.

When the business eventually takes off, you’ll feel a sense of fulfilment that is incomparable because your hard work has finally paid off. And rather than spending years wishing that you just had the result now, you spent those years putting all of your focus into the process and ending up enjoying the process.

This is what it means to embody a growth mindset; you’re focused on whom you want to become rather than who you are today.