Developing a Mindset of Success

It’s easy to have some fun at the expense of a success mindset. Saturday Night Live has numerous skits that have stood the test of time and become iconic pop-cultural references for several generations. Many might recall the “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley” segments where at the end of each skit he repeats to himself, “ . . . because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like me.” When considering the character that recites these self-affirmation mantras, it’s hilarious – many of us are rolling our eyes and thinking, “Sure, Stuart!”

However, the notion of self-affirmation is quite powerful, especially when understanding how we play a part in creating success for ourselves. A familiar psychological concept, the “Locus of Control,” was first presented by Julian Rotter in the 1950s, and speaks to the extent to which people believe they have control over events in their lives. Those with a strong external locus of control believe factors outside themselves are to be blamed or responsible for what happens to them, whereas those with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their lives are primarily derived from their own actions.

As you can imagine, this is quite an extensive area of psychology, and as with many things having to do with an individual, there is a spectrum. Consider yourself for a moment and whether your tendency is to operate with either an internal or external locus of control.

Our ability to develop a mindset of success relies on our belief that we have some degree of control over what happens to us. Simply willing ourselves to experience success won’t work. However, adopting a growth mindset will.

Adopting a Growth Mindset

A key to maintaining a mindset of success is understanding that success doesn’t mean perfection. In fact, success is the result of our ability to learn from mistakes, disappointments, and failure.

So often we see others experiencing success and don’t realize what it took to achieve it, which usually includes countless failures, sacrifices, and disappointments.

However, by channeling our inner locus of control, we can overcome these learning moments with persistence, discipline, hard work, and dedication. These individuals who succeed look at each situation as an opportunity—to them there is no failure, only feedback.

According to Carol Dweck PhD, who wrote, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “It’s all about your mindset. Successful people tend to focus on growth, solving problems, and self-improvement, while unsuccessful people think of their abilities as fixed assets and avoid challenges.” [1] If we are able to overcome frustration, the fear that can come with rejection, and the disappointment associated with mistakes or failure, and instead create learning outcomes from each of these scenarios, we will be successful.

The Mountaineer Mantra

Those familiar with my approach know that I use mountaineering as a metaphor for the way we climb the corporate ladder. In both cases there are three critical steps: (1) we set a goal, (2) take one step at a time, and (3) collaborate our way to the top. We bring our own ability, motivation, and mindset on the way up. If you embrace the set-backs, weather delays, and the sometimes-trying colleagues as a part of your climb, you’ll reach greater heights. Learn from these experiences. Don’t allow them to make you turn back or give up.

So, go ahead, look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re good enough and smart enough despite any obstacles along the climb, because they will present themselves. Choose the approach of the internal locus of control, and make every situation an opportunity—doing so will help you achieve greater success. Visit to learn more.

[1] Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Ballantine Books, December 2007.

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