The Innovation Practice, Cambridge UK:  07711 720157

Winning mindset

November 4, 2016

We have had a number of conversations recently with our clients around what it takes to create a Winning Mindset. The first place to start is with a definition of what a Winning Mindset is. There are many ways you could define this, from a (scary) desire to 'crush the opposition' to a single minded focus on achieving a great result.

I recently watched a Ted Talk by Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford who has recently published a book entitled 'Mindset'. The basis of her work is that there are basically 2 mindsets - Fixed & Growth. Carol explains these better than I can, but here is a brief summary:

  • People with a fixed mindset believe that it is only the result that counts, so that is where they put their focus. In their world, you have a fixed level of intelligence, which you are born with.You either have it, or you don't. You have to be flawless and you have to keep that level of flawlessness. Fixed mindseters get hit hard by failure and can end up setting their sights lower so that they can guarantee success, rather than risk failure. They can see people who work hard as being somehow inferior. The focus here is on the short term. These people are non learners. 

  • Growth mind setters believe that their intelligence can develop over time and that the way that it can develop is, basically, to learn from your mistakes. Failure is seen as an opportunity to improve, rather than a confirmation of your limitations. Hard work is seen as a good thing as it brings longer term and consistent success. These people are learners.

So, for me, a Winning Mindset is a Growth Mindset. Winning will not happen in the long term without developing, continuously refreshing and applying the knowledge and skills required to get the job done. Failures will occur, especially in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship , but these should be treated as opportunities to learn & improve. It takes focus to make great things happen.


The Growth Mindset applies to many areas of life, from business to family to sports. I have found this mindset to be particularly useful when working with my son in passing some big exams he has coming up. Originally, we focussed on the grades and celebrated incremental improvements - but these did not always happen and frustration crept in. Now we focus on the error and celebrating learning new things or tips and tricks to reduce those errors in the future. He has improved a lot as a result.


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