Leadership

This mindset increases your chance of achieving success, according to science

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What type of mindset is needed to achieve a high level of success? According to University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, it's a growth mindset.

In a video interview for Amazon, Duckworth explains that a growth mindset is a belief that people are growth-oriented, malleable and can learn through both experience and effort.

The psychologist notes that the scientific community has covered this topic for over 50 years. Through extensive research, neuroscientists have found that a growth mindset is the most effective mindset for achieving goals, gaining new skills and developing positive changes in your life.

"[A growth mindset is] the idea that we can approach a situation, a good or bad situation and think, 'What can I do here to change things for the better to keep things on course?'" says Duckworth. "That is an optimistic growth-oriented mindset."

The opposite is a fixed mindset, which is a "deep-down" belief that people are ultimately unchangeable. Here's how people with a fixed mindset think, says Duckworth: You're either a writer or you're not a writer. You're either a natural public speaker or you're not meant to be in front of the cameras. You're either a people person with terrific social skills that nobody had to teach you or "you're destined to be awkward forever."

According to the psychologist, "These two orientations in life powerfully influence how people act in particular when they are faced with challenges."

She adds that people either rise to the occasion or shrink back from these tough moments. Many highly successful people, including Bill Gates and Mark Cuban, exhibit a growth mindset.

Gates, for example, saw his first business Traf-O-Data, a computerized machine company that used a chip to process and analyze traffic data, fail. Yet he used what he learned from that mistake to eventually co-found Microsoft, which is now valued at $507.5 billion.

"Once you embrace unpleasant news not as a negative but as evidence of a need for change, you aren't defeated by it," Gates writes in his book "Business @the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy."

Mark Cuban speaks onstage during the THRIVE with Arianna Huffington panel at The Town Hall during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 28, 2016 in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic | Getty Image
Mark Cuban speaks onstage during the THRIVE with Arianna Huffington panel at The Town Hall during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 28, 2016 in New York City.

Billionaire Cuban, an investor for "Shark Tank," also faced obstacles early in his career. In an interview with "Shark Tank," Cuban admitted that he had quit or been fired from three straight jobs right after graduating college. The tech entrepreneur now has a net worth of $3.7 billion, according to Forbes.

So what sets apart the Mark Cubans and Bill Gates of the world? A growth mindset helps these success individuals withstand challenges, says Duckworth. "What explains these very different reactions [and] these very different motivation levels are our beliefs," the psychologist tells Amazon.

Duckworth adds that when people are taught at a young age that the brain is plastic and that "neuroscience affirms that the growth mindset is the correct one," they choose this way of thinking over a fixed mindset.

"And that, in turn, leads to longer-term achievement," she says.

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