The Secret to Learning Anything

As an entrepreneur, a creative, or really anyone who strives to reach a specific professional or personal goal, learning is incredibly important. Staying abreast of the trends in your field involves learning, embarking on a new creative project involves learning, and making that next big career move involves learning.

In today’s rapidly evolving personal and professional development space, it’s vital that you continually educate yourself in order to achieve success. However, did you know it’s possible to learn incorrectly? Or at least to approach learning incorrectly?

Just as in so many other areas, a healthy mindset is the key to success in educating yourself and cutting your learning curve.

Secret #1: Scrap Your Fixed Mindset

Have you ever been assigned a project at work that completely put you out of your comfort zone and you initially thought, “I can’t do that?” Have you always wanted to learn how to use a certain software, but have been too intimidated to even begin? Have you felt a desire to master a new skill, like learn how to play an instrument or take a photography class but told yourself, “There’s no way I can do that?” Those are called fixed mindsets, and they are holding you back.

A fixed mindset is what happens when you think your talents, skills, and capabilities are fixed and incapable of growing or expanding. If you’ve ever made up your mind that you’re bad at something, like math, cooking, or dancing, these are examples of fixed mindsets. Your mind believes that you’re stuck with the hand you’ve been dealt and that there’s not a lot of room for growth or progress in those areas.

This is a dangerous mindset. 

Secret #2: Adopt a Growth Mindset

In contrast, having a growth mindset means you’re much more open-minded. When you see challenges, obstacles, and learning opportunities as a chance to experience growth and improvement, you have a growth mindset. This kind of mentality not only allows you to appreciate opportunities for education, but gives you a passion for them.

In addition to giving you a more positive attitude and preparing yourself for progress, adopting a growth mindset can generate significantly more long-term success with the endeavors you face and has the potential to cut your learning curve when trying new things.

Nate Cooper, a Teacher, former trainer at Apple, and creator of the podcast, “Cut Your Learning Curve,” noticed a big difference in the outcomes of his students who displayed both of these mentalities. “I noticed that the people who had growth mindset approaches were always the ones finding success,” he says. “And those who displayed a fixed growth mindset—just that alone was going to prevent them from learning.”

Secret #3: A Growth Mindset Can Be Learned

If you’re already feeling intimidated at the very thought of modifying your mentality, you’re experiencing a fixed mindset, and you should leave that at the door. Just like anything else, adopting a growth mindset can, and should, be learned.

In his experience teaching, Cooper found that mindset alone is a huge part, if not the biggest part, of learning. “If you don’t have the right mindset, you don’t have the prerequisite needed to even start down the path of learning.”

How to Adopt a Growth Mindset

There are various ways you can adopt a growth mindset in your life. The most straightforward way is to simply go after the things that challenge and excite you. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that you’ve mastered something new—a skill or talent you never thought you’d learn—even though the very idea of it initially intimidated or scared you.

When you successfully complete something, take note of what worked along the way. And to the opposite point, if you fail—and remember, failing is all part of the process—take note of what did not work. Additionally, don’t attribute your successes or failures to any inherent skills that you have. Instead, acknowledge the hard work you put in and give yourself credit for that.

The next time you start a new business venture, sign up for a class or webinar, or take on a new creative project that feels particularly intimidating, try to adopt a growth mindset despite any fears of the challenges and obstacles you may face along the way. The very act of learning requires you to face obstacles, to often stumble, and to progress as you go. It’s not supposed to be easy.

For more on this topic, check out my podcast, “Tiny Leaps, Big Changes.” I also encourage you to join my private Facebook community where I and 2,900 other “Leapsters” support each other in our own personal and professional development by sharing real stories, personal experiences, and research-backed strategies.

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