Growth Mindset

5 Videos That Will Help You Redefine Failure

Growth Mindset

Almost anyone who has ever been successful at anything had to go through numerous failures to get there. Failure comes in all shapes and forms — unusable drafts, rejected prototypes, errors of judgment, speling mistagkes — but it’s always an opportunity to learn. Problem is, though failure is what success is built on, many of us have a complete phobia of making mistakes.

At Wonder, we believe redefining failure is crucial to growth. Whenever we need to be reminded that it’s okay to be wrong, we turn to the five videos below:

Khan Academy: You Can Learn Anything

It’s not our lack of abilities that hold us back. It’s our mindset. This inspiring video from Khan Academy shows us that achieving our goals starts with thinking we can.

Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

Rephrasing failure as “not yet” can radically affect our performance and attitude towards achievement, says Stanford psychology researcher Carol Dweck.

David Foster Wallace: Ambition

In this short interview, David Foster Wallace discusses perfection, and how his desire to always achieve this perfection negatively impacted his work.

Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong

On this TED Talk, which explores everything from the Chinese character for picnic bench to the mistakes of Wile E. Coyote, journalist Kathryn Schulz questions what it means to be wrong, and suggests that allowing ourselves to be wrong more often could change our lives (for the better).

J.K. Rowling: Harvard Commencement Speech

In her now famous address to the new students at Harvard, J.K Rowling gives a personal account of the many failures she encountered when she was an aspiring writer, and how these failures helped her strip away the inessential in order to focus on her work and who she wanted to be.

Believe You Can Grow: Three Strategies For Changing Your Mindset

Growth Mindset

Are you hard on yourself when you make mistakes? Do you tend to stick to your comfort zone rather than take risks? If so, you might be seeing life as a test that you either pass or fail. To start seeing it for what it could be — an experiment you can learn from and have fun with — we recommend trying one (or all) of the three things below:

(Writers’ Note: We think you’ll enjoy them even if you’re pretty good at failing).

1. Read a biography

There’s an old cure to beating yourself up for not being really good at something: it’s reading your hero’s —or anybody’s— biography.  Biographies tend to be perfect illustrations of Thomas Edison’s mantra (“genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration”) and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule. By narrating the countless times successful people have struggled, failed, and (most importantly) persevered, they help us all put things in perspective.

2. Get good at positive self-talk

People who are scared to fail listen to the voice inside their heads that tells them they’re not gifted, clever, creative, young, or (insert desirable trait here) enough to do whatever it is that they would secretly love to do. That is the voice of their inner critic. Creativity expert Julia Cameron recommended that her students work with their inner critics instead of shushing them completely. She gave them the following exercise: whenever you hear your inner critic, take note of what it’s saying. Then, convert each nasty statement into something positive (“I, Jessica, am stupid and lazy”, for example, into “I, Jessica, am capable and determined.”)

3. Do something challenging

When it comes to taking on challenges, you were likely a lot braver as a baby than you are now. Think about it — you took on the inconceivably humongous challenge of learning how to walk, and you failed (in public) hundreds of times before you finally succeeded. To become as curious and eager to learn as you were when you were an infant, embrace a new activity, like learning a new language or an instrument. Allow yourself to make plenty of mistakes. Watching your slow, steady progress will motivate you to take on even greater challenges.

More about mindset

Will You Reach Your Full Potential? Ask Yourself One Question To Find Out

Growth Mindset

Are people born smart or creative, or can they develop these traits over time?

How you answer this question says a lot about you. In fact, it determines how you approach challenges, and helps predict whether you will achieve your full potential or not.

If you think qualities like intelligence and creativity are carved in stone — you’re born with a certain amount and that amount stays the same throughout your lifetime — you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

According to psychology professor Carol Dweck, the idea that you can’t change or improve (what she calls a “fixed mindset”) is the most powerful — and toxic — belief you can have.

“The fixed mindset creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over,” writes Dweck. A fixed-mindsetter who is considered smart may not admit when he doesn’t know the answer for fear of looking dumb. As a consequence, he misses out on opportunities for learning something new.

Dweck’s research shows that fixed-mindsetters live under the belief that talent is born, not made. When the picture they paint or the cake they bake doesn’t come out perfect on the first attempt, they conclude they just don’t have what it takes to master those skills. They see the need for practice as an evidence of incompetence, so they don’t allow themselves to fail until they succeed.

The fear of tackling challenges combined with a contempt for effort is a recipe for underachievement. Ultimately, a fixed mindset will hold you back from learning and growing.

If you want to do all that you were put on this world to do, you need to start thinking differently. Cultivate a growth mindset, and success — in the form of curiosity and contentment — will follow.

The Truth About Negative Feedback: It’s Not Just About You

Feedback, Growth Mindset

Most of us mistakenly believe that the labels and judgments we get from other people concern only ourselves. Actually, they reveal a lot about the people who made them.

Criticism is people’s way of hinting at their unresolved feelings and unmet needs. A person who calls you insensitive may be (awkwardly) asking for your affection.

“Well, if that’s what they want,” you may ask, “why don’t they just say so?”

Short answer: because it’s hard. Most of us aren’t in touch with how we feel, and those of us who are don’t always know how to articulate it.

Get better at expressing your feelings

On top of that, saying how we truly feel makes us vulnerable, something we’ve learned to think of as negative. So, instead of admitting we’re sad, scared, frustrated, angry, jealous or disappointed, we talk about how bad other people, and all the things they are doing, are.

Learn to give negative feedback

With needs, it’s the same story. We weren’t trained to think in terms of needs; instead, we learned to think about what is wrong with other people whenever our needs are not being met. So, if we need peace and quiet to concentrate on our work at the office, for example, we’ll think of anyone who laughs and talks loudly around our desks as rude and obnoxious.

Looking at criticism as a reflection of people’s needs and emotions helps us deal with it more productively. It also makes us more empathetic.

So let’s imagine that a good friend tells you, “You’re the most selfish person I know.”

You may react by:

1)   Blaming yourself
“Wow, I must be a really bad friend!”

2)   Blaming your friend
“You can’t say that! I’m always doing you favors! YOU’RE the one who’s selfish!”

3)   Expressing your own feelings and needs
“I’m really hurt to hear you say that, because I need some acknowledgment for all the times I’ve considered what you wanted, too.”

Blaming yourself makes you feel guilty, ashamed, and depressed —all of which are bad for your self-esteem. Blaming the other person doesn’t help and can end up ruining the relationship. Finally, simply expressing your feelings while ignoring the other person’s won’t improve the situation.

The counter-intuitive, but more proactive way to respond is:

4)   Helping the other person express how they feel and what their needs are
“Are you upset because you’d like me to ask you about your preferences more?”

If you want to help the other person and learn something useful in the process, go with #4.