Mental coach shares the 4 mindsets that help you succeed (and the ones that hold you back)


Mindsets are "foundational to how we think, learn and behave," says mental success coach Ryan Gottfredson.

With regard to the brain, mindsets are neural connections that help filter and interpret certain information, says Gottfredson, a professor at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University-Fullerton, who spent six years researching the science behind mindsets and wrote the book "Success Mindsets: The Key to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work, & Leadership."

Given that, "if we can improve how we see and interpret our world, we will be able to process and operate in our world more effectively," he says.

In other words, having the right mindset can help you achieve success. 

Ryan Gottfreson, mental success coach and author of "Success Mindsets: Your Keys to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work & Leadership"
Credit: Ryan Gottfredson

According to Gottfredson, there are four sets of mindsets that can affect success. Having one of the following mindsets over the other can lead to "enhanced success," says Gottfredson. 

Have a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset

The mindset: Those who have a growth mindset believe you "can change, develop and improve [your] talents, abilities and intelligence," Gottfredson tells CNBC Make It, while those with a fixed mindset believe these things are unchangeable.

How a growth mindset leads to success: Those with a growth mindset are more willing and able to learn new skills, says Gottfredson, and they do not judge their worth by the degree to which they are seen to possess talents and abilities.

"Decades of research have found that those with a growth mindset are more mentally primed to approach and take on challenges, take advantage of feedback, adopt the most effective problem-solving strategies, provide developmental feedback to subordinates, and be effortful and persistent in seeking to accomplish goals," Gottfredson co-wrote in the Harvard Business Review in January.

Those with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, tend to avoid situations where they could fail or be criticized, and over time that can lead to less growth and development at work and in life. 

How to develop a growth mindset: Find ways to improve talents or skills you possess, whether it's by reading a book or taking a class, says Gottfredson.

Have an open mindset vs. a closed mindset

The mindset: Those with an open mindset are open to new ideas and have a willingness to take seriously suggestions from others, Gottfredson says. Whereas those with a closed mindset "believe that what they know is best," he says.

How an open mindset leads to success: An open mindset allows you to engage in "higher-quality information gathering and thinking" with less bias when making decisions, Gottfredson says. That then often leads to greater creativity and innovation. People with an open mindset also tend to be more open to feedback than those with a closed mindset, he says. 

How to develop an open mindset: Ask questions, invite feedback, look for new perspectives and think as positively as possible to spark openness and creativity. 

Have a promotion mindset vs. a prevention mindset

The mindset: Those with a promotion mindset focus on winning and achieving gains. For example, a person with a promotion mindset will have a clear goal and actively shoot for it. Those with a prevention mindset, on the other hand, focus on "not losing" rather than achieving, Gottfredson says.

How a promotion mindset leads to success: "Research has found that those with a promotion mindset are more prone to positive thinking, more open to change, more likely to persist despite challenges and setbacks, and demonstrate higher levels of task performance and innovative behaviors compared to leaders with a prevention mindset," Gottfredson co-wrote in HBR.

Those with a prevention mindset typically do what is required of them and nothing more, making it hard to gain recognition and reach new goals.

How to develop a promotion mindset: Identify clear goals or a "destination" instead of avoiding risks. Also, develop a clear and powerful purpose for each goal, says Gottfredson. 

Have an outward mindset vs. an inward mindset

The mindset: People with an outward mindset tend to see others as equals, while people with an inward mindset see themselves are being more important.

How an outward mindset leads to success: People with an outward mindset see the value in others and, because of that, "are more likely to be trusted by others, and create a more engaging and psychologically safe work environment," Gottfredson says.

People with an inward mindset "are going to be more inclined to walk over others to be successful," which "generally catches up to them sooner or later," Gottfredson says.

How to develop an outward mindset: Engage with all kinds of people, no matter their position or rank. And assign others' needs and wants the same level of importance as your own. 

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