People aren’t born to fail. Both science and our own experience has proven this to be true.
At the time each of us came into the world, we were born with everything that we would need to build an incredible life for ourselves. It was handed to us, gifted to us innately, woven into our DNA.
Many will doubt these words. They will point to all those who struggle. Those who have lived a life of unfulfilled dreams. They will cite example after example of people who have strived yet come up short, given up and settled. Certainly there is no shortage of people with dashed hopes, broken dreams and shattered souls.
Yet not one of us started out this way. We came into life full of promise, energized by the opportunities and relentlessly willing to do whatever was necessary to fulfill our greatest desires. We came into life with everything we needed to succeed.
Just think of a child, prior to the age of two. Consider their perspective, the mindset with which they move. It is the mindset of a person who possesses everything they need to succeed. Still uncertain about the validity of that statement?
Consider this, what are the most difficult things a child learns prior to the age of two? Walking and talking. Arguably the two most complex skills we will develop in our lifetime.
So let’s take a moment and examine the process of learning to walk. Most of us have been around a child as they are going through this stage of their development. Invariably the process always looks very much the same for every child.
One day, there they are crawling across the floor just looking around in wonderment at everything that they see. Then they look upwards at all the adults around them and a thought crosses their mind. They say to themselves, “hmm, all these adults are walking and here I am crawling across the floor. This crawling stuff is a little tough on the knees, maybe there is something to this walking thing.”
So off they set, crawling towards a table or a chair and with all their might they pull themselves into a standing position. Propped up on their wobbly little legs they look around at this incredible new vantage point of the world. Then they glance down at their hands grasping on to the edge of that table of chair and slowly they loosen their grip and move their hands away.
Suddenly, the laws of physics take over. Gravity and a lack of balance rear up and down they fall. Does this sudden occurrence deter them? Does the shock of hitting the floor sway them from trying again? Not in the least. So once again they prop themselves up, and once again, they fall.
Over and over they will go through this process, falling forward, backward, sideways, hundreds of times. With each fall, with each setback, with each stumble they gain perspective, insights and knowledge. Until eventually they learn. They learn about center of gravity, about balance and slowly but surely, they put one foot in front of the other and they begin to walk.
In a study published in the Journal for Psychological Science, researchers at New York University found that the average toddler will fall 17 times an hour as they are learning to walk. Over and over again, hour after hour, falling hundreds if not thousands of times in order to perfect this intricate skillset.
The amazing thing is, never once will this small toddler say to themselves, “Maybe Mom and Dad are supposed to walk but I am meant to crawl.” That thought never even crosses their mind.
Look at how that child moves; they are fearless, determined, goal-directed, motivated, inquisitive and eager to learn. They don’t quit. They don’t give up. They don’t doubt themselves or their capabilities. They relentlessly practice until eventually, they walk.
Yes, it is painful to fall. Nobody enjoys stumbling. However, ask yourself, why do they willingly go through the pain and suffering of falling down over and over and over again?
Quite simply, because they don’t know that it is possible to fail. The very concept of failure doesn’t even exist within their consciousness. We as adults have not yet had the chance to teach them about failure. Society has yet to place limits on their beliefs. In essence, they still possess an unlimited mindset that is rooted in the belief that they can accomplish anything they set out to do. While that may require failing down hundreds of times, they are willing to pay whatever dues are required to succeed.
You see, prior to the age of two, we all possessed the unlimited mindset necessary to succeed. If you doubt that, let me just ask you this, how often do you crawl anymore?
Yet how many adults would be willing to fall down seventeen times an hour if that was what was required to learn something? Very few. How many adults still possess the unwavering belief, the relentless determination and the boundless self-motivation that once propelled their success as a two year old? Very few.
Recapturing that unlimited mindset is the absolute key to building a life of our dreams. It is the key to accomplishing what we desire most in life. Regardless of setbacks, regardless of obstacles, an unlimited mindset assures success. This is something that we have worked on helping adults to recapture for more than two decades.
So if you really want to succeed, if you want to be great, if you want to accomplish something of magnitude. You just need to regenerate the mindset you once possessed as a two year old.
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David Naylor is Executive Vice President of Global Learning and Development at 2logical, an industry leader in the Training and Development field. At 2logical, we help organizations fix their people problems by shifting employee mindsets. Two decades ago, we pioneered a transformative approach to developing peak performing employees. Far transcending the traditional means of closing skill gaps, 2logical perfected a method of closing the underlying belief gaps that are the root cause of virtually every employee performance issue. Forward thinking, industry leaders at many of the world's most recognized companies have embraced this strategy to develop their Leadership and Sales talent.