If you watch YouTube on a regular basis and refuse to purchase the ad-free feature like I do, I’m sure you’re no stranger to infamous ads of middle-aged millionaires telling you to click on their online program, so that they can share their “secret to success”. The question I raise to that: is there a secret to begin with?
One’s “secret” to any recipe is normally nothing as exquisite as you may think. The secret to a great homemade sauce can be as simple as store-bought mayonnaise, or as ambiguous as love. This shows me that perhaps the “secret” to success that we’re looking for is not that unique attribute or method that one of many successful people use. Instead, it’s the common denominator that’s shared amongst all of them. Although there are lots of things that these people have in common (and yes, I could even write a book about all of them), I’d like to share one that people often dismiss due to its lack of certainty: having the proper mindset.
I would explain “mindset” as one’s outlook and attitude towards life’s challenges. Carol Dweck, author for the much-praised work for its simple concept with huge impacts: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, suggested that one’s belief of their ability and the world can influence their ability to learn and flourish.
Two researchers, Ashley Buchanan and Margaret L. Kern, wanted to prove this increasingly popular belief, which you can access by searching their research paper called “The Benefit Mindset: The Psychology of Contribution and Everyday Leadership” in google scholars. They covered a lot of valid and interesting topics, but I was drawn into their focus on the three types of mindsets: fixed, growth and benefit.
It was interesting to see how they chose to categorize these three mindsets. Obviously there are others that are not listed, whether it may be deemed good or bad. However, it was interesting nonetheless how they note that there is not one right mindset. Each approach has their own unique advantages and disadvantages. After reading through their research, it got me thinking: is there a wrong mindset?
I’m only 19 years old, but I can testify that I’ve participated more motivational talks and workshops than the person next door. I’ve always been told the same thing, to always have a “winner’s mindset”. Now this varies for different people, but it always goes along the lines of “don’t give up”, “seek for opportunities and cease it”, or “work hard now, and you’ll reap the benefits later”. Although I agree to these notions (and believe me I’ve put them into practice, yes they work), I’ve recently thought about whether there are other ways of achieving success.
I used to be an elitist a few years back; silently judging my friends who are being lazy and just downright unproductive. Looking back, I’ve definitely been insecure of feeling vulnerable. However, despite everything, they’re able to thrive and be successful. It was only recently that I was able to let it sink in, that people have different definitions of what being successful is, and that there’s no need for anyone to convince anyone otherwise.
Science has yet to fully explain how a simple belief and outlook can alter one’s abilities, both physically and mentally. However, it does undoubtedly work. I’d like to encourage you to look past these advices to success defined by millionaires, and see how other more creatively-driven and process-focused people achieve their definition of success. Be open-minded to other people’s success and how they forged their way into that, but never let anyone tell you your definition of success is any less significant.