The Most Important Sign of a Successful Person Isn’t Your IQ—It’s This One Trait

Not blessed with brainpower? You’re in successful company.


Think your brain will boost your success? Think again. New research from Stanford University says that to be more successful, you should focus on your attitude—not your mind.

Psychologist Carol Dweck’s research shows that people tend to have one of two attitudes: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are powerless to change themselves or their circumstances. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset approach challenges with the attitude that they can improve with time and effort (this is how successful people end their workday.)

You already know where we’re going with this. Studies show that those with a growth mindset repeatedly outperform those with a fixed mindset, (even when they have a lower IQ!) Why? Instead of avoiding a tough task or giving up after a simple blunder, successful people try and try again. They embrace failure, treating those moments as opportunities to learn. And successful people break these conventional life rules all the time.

In other words: “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else,'” Dweck says.

And here’s the good news: Even if you’re not naturally inclined toward a growth mindset, you can develop it over time.

For starters, parents and teachers can focus on giving “process praise,” which rewards perseverance, hard work, and embracing challenges. Examples include “This was a tough assignment, but you stuck to it,” or “You had to work really hard, but it paid off.”

Companies can encourage growth in the workplace, too. In fact, in Dweck’s study of Fortune 1000 companies, culture found that “employees who said their company’s culture supported growth felt more empowered and more encouraged to be creative than employees who felt their corporate culture was more fixed,” according to the Harvard Business Review.

Long story short: It doesn’t matter if you graduated valedictorian of your class or finished first in the geography bee. Your success is determined by how you learn—not what you know.

And by the way, don’t forget the crucial skill for success, according to billionaires.

[Sources: Business Insider, Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Harvard Business Review]

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