It is uncool to be perfect. Why? Because, it is simply impossible. It is an accident waiting to happen; a stress bomb waiting to explode; setting one’s expectations extremely high for something that will never occur. Yet, millions of us are only willing to do things when we know we will look good or will win the game.
And there is reasoning behind this.
We are not stupid here. We don’t want to put ourselves out there TOO MUCH, because we have before and failed and it hurt. It hurt our pride and we never fully recovered. What did we learn from that rejection from the man/woman we thought we were in love with?
Well, sometimes, we just don’t know.
And we don’t want to try again.
Why risk being rejected again or, even worse, publicly humiliated?!
Why not stay in our little box forever?
After all, it feels pretty comfortable in there. I mean, it gets a little boring at times, but, eh, what can you do?
…Or is there something?
Something that could possibly push us away from living this confined lifestyle in which we try so hard to impress people that WE DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT.
While we naturally seek that euphoric rush that comes from coming out on top, we must not limit ourselves by it. Yes, it feels great to be the QB throwing the winning pass or the superstar in the boardroom making the big deals.
But, can it last?
Don’t let your potential just be an idea:
While there is significant motivation behind a good competitive spirit to become the best of the best, one must understand the implications of always expecting to win. The problem arises when we become unwilling to break out of our shell in order to grow. When we become so afraid of failure or “looking like an idiot” that we halt moving forward, we have made a major mistake. Our potential is then just an idea that will never be fully reached.
So how do we stop this huge mistake from happening and ruining our one, quickly fleeting life?
“IF, [like those with the growth mindset], you believe you can develop yourself, then you're open to accurate information about your current abilities, even if it's unflattering,” elaborates Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, on her belief in the Effort Effect.
In her book, The New Psychology of Success, Dweck offers that by deploying a mindset in which we do not believe our IQ to be permanently fixed, we open ourselves up to exponential possibilities and can reach our true potential (Dweck, 2006). Too many of us are simply unwilling to put ourselves in situations in which we believe others are smarter than us, because we blame ourselves for not being as knowledgeable on the respective subject.
But, is this the way to go?
After all, why not attempt to learn from others that are smarter than us?
Why not put ourselves out there?
How can you truly learn from others that never challenge you?
Blame Yourself, But Not Always...
We often either believe that we should have “studied harder” or that we simply do not hold the mental capacity for a specific level of intelligence. So, we give up and get out of the game. Contrarily, those that, when faced with failure, see it as a product of circumstances and do not solely blame themselves for their shortcoming, have the necessary endurance to push through challenges and go on to become wildly more successful than before. This does not mean that it is healthy to blame others for your failure, but to simply beat yourself up less for failing, because it is only a temporary instance that will fuel your future growth.
So, is it possible to manipulate your fixed mindset and become more comfortable with the uncomfortable?
While it is not an easy task, the key is to focus on rewarding yourself for perseverance over perfection. This takes a great deal of patience, but its’ consequences open up countless doors of opportunity that would never have been opened up, otherwise.
As Thomas Watson notes, “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.”
7 Steps to Achieving the Growth Mindset:
1. Focus on effort and persistence over instant gratification
2. Be accepting of difficult tasks
3. Concentrate on different strategies as opposed to how a task seems impossible
4. Accept failure as a temporary setback
5. Realize that hard work is necessary
6. More hard work
7. Rinse & repeat
Even more, with children, we can help them to develop a growth mindset by encouraging them as they persist through challenges. While we should not give every kid a trophy (please don't America), it is necessary to teach them that, in order to win, they will certainly face failures and will not always be the best. Having a good sense of humor and underlying confidence are not only key, but absolutely necessary in order to push through life's challenges.
Look like a Confident Idiot:
So, the next time you say something that makes zero sense during a meeting, realize it was only one time and come back wittier the next time around.
When you try to dance and end up getting 100% served, throw your hands up in the air and dance harder.
If you’re lucky, someone might even feel sorry for you and join in.
The next time you let yourself become vulnerable enough to get hurt in the game of love, stand back up and confidently declare that you will find better next time. Because, deep down, you know there is more out there. Somewhere.
The next time you fail, realize you had more balls than all the others who never even tried. That should help you get back up again. And become more successful in the long run.
So go on,
You are one ballsy SOB and you are going places. You confident idiot, you.
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.