Not many of us would call success the “disease of me", but these are the exact words Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley used to describe it. It’s a strange outlook for someone so accomplished and successful himself, don’t you think? So, what’s the deal?
Let’s take a look.
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
I recently read a fascinating book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Successby Carol S. Dweck. In her book, Dr. Dweck delves into the study of people who are successful and those who fail to triumph. In particular, she probes the question of why some people with ample advantages strive for their goals, become discouraged and eventually quit, while others, with seemingly few resources and talent, persist until they attain immense prosperity.
Many people, myself included, often delude themselves into believing that success is dependent upon external factors. What researchers have come to realize, and what Dr. Dweck demonstrates in countless case studies, is that success has little to do with talent and more to do with two mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
A person with the growth mindset views the world from a “learn-and-help-learn framework”. They consider it a success when they're learning and improving themselves . Their focus is on self-development, self-motivation and responsibility, not simply achieving goals.
A fixed mindset individual is mainly concerned with how they’ll be judged by others. They view the world from a “judge-and-be-judged framework”. For them, success is about substantiating how smart and talented they are through their accomplishments.
“If you don’t give anything, don’t expect anything”
Pat Riley understood what being successful requires and what pitfalls tend to lie ahead. When he referred to success as the “disease of me”, he was addressing the danger that he’d witnessed in those who’d reached their goals.
He found that success can knock you into a fixed mindset. If you’re not careful, you begin to believe that talent is the reason for all your accomplishments. You believe you are the success and forget about all the discipline and hard work that got you there. You become complacent and sloppy.
Just because you may excel far beyond your peers at the beginning, this doesn’t mean you’ll stay ahead. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Others can learn the same skills with training, and soon you’ll find yourself justifying why those with "less talent" have surpassed you.
“Success is not coming to you, you must come to it”
In Dr. Dweck’s book, she repeatedly emphasizes how important staying focused on learning is to your success. She briefly mentions the fact that the growth mindset helps with problems such as self-confidence and shyness.
Using this mindset, you begin to perceive challenging events not as embarrassing episodes where others are judging you, but as new and exciting experiences that give you a chance to learn and grow into the person you aspire to become.
In the fixed mindset, effort is not valued. It’s something that casts doubt on your talent. When this occurs, that person begins to question themselves and their value, instead of focusing on the solution to the challenge at hand.
If you believe you're stuck in the fixed mindset, don’t worry. Mindsets are only beliefs, beliefs are in your mind, and you can change your mind at any time. Just think, the instant you find yourself saying “This is hard. This is fun.” is the moment you’ll know you’re changing mindsets.