The Newest Mindset of Success
Node Smith, ND
To succeed in modern life, people need to accomplish challenging tasks effectively. Many successful entrepreneurs, business-people, students, athletes and more, tend to be more strategic — and hence, more effective — than others at meeting such challenges. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that one important psychological factor behind their success may be a “strategic mindset.”
One important psychological factor behind success may be THIS mindset
This research, led by Assistant Professor Patricia Chen from the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, shows that people with a strategic mindset are the ones who, in the face of challenges or setbacks, ask themselves: “How else can I do this? Is there a better way of doing this?.” Done in collaboration with Stanford University psychologists, this research shows that, as a result, these people tend to apply more effective strategies when working towards their goals in life — including educational, work, health and fitness goals. In turn, they achieve higher school grades, make greater progress towards their professional, health, and fitness goals, and even perform a novel challenging task more efficiently.
‘Until now, we hadn’t understood why some people use their strategies more than others at the right time’
“These findings are exciting because psychological science has long known that having a wide repertoire of strategies matters. But until now, we hadn’t understood why some people use their strategies more than others at the right time. We developed our research on the strategic mindset to explain why this might be,” said Asst Prof Chen, lead author of the study.
Asst Prof Chen and her collaborators conducted a series of three studies, involving over 860 college students and working adults from the United States. One of their studies on 365 college students found that students’ strategic mindset predicted how much they reported using effective learning strategies in their classes. And the more they used these effective strategies, the better they performed in their classes that semester, and also in new, different classes the subsequent semester. A second study surveying 365 adults across the United States about their strategic mindset, and relating their mindset to how effective these adults were at pursuing professional, educational, health, and fitness goals of importance to them, produced similar findings.
Can people learn a strategic mindset?
Yes, the researchers found that a strategic mindset can indeed be taught. In an experiment, they randomly assigned some people to learn about a strategic mindset through a brief training session. Later, they gave these people a novel, challenging task to accomplish as quickly as possible. Compared to other people in the study who were not exposed to these strategic mindset ideas, those who had learnt about a strategic mindset later applied more effective strategies to accomplish the task. Their strategic behaviors, in turn, translated into faster task performance. Additionally, these people who had learnt about a strategic mindset also voluntarily practiced the task more before they had to perform it under time pressure — suggesting that a strategic mindset also has important implications for practice.
How does the strategic mindset work?
Co-author Professor Carol Dweck from the Department of Psychology at Stanford University explained, “There are key points in any challenging pursuit that require people to step back and come up with new strategies. A strategic mindset helps them do just that.”
Here’s the good news!
Today, many around the world are facing greater struggles. The good news is, people can immediately apply this insight to their lives. Asst Prof Chen advised, “As you approach whatever challenging goal you are pursuing, you can ask yourself, ‘What are things I can do to help myself (and others)? Is there a way to do this even better?’ If something you have been working on isn’t going so well, can you step back and ask yourself, ‘How might I go about this differently? Is there another approach I can try to help this go better?'”
Asst Prof Chen and Prof Dweck have already been working hard on the next steps for this research: to develop and test ways to cultivate a strategic mindset among children and adults at scale.
1. Patricia Chen, Joseph T. Powers, Kruthika R. Katragadda, Geoffrey L. Cohen, Carol S. Dweck. A strategic mindset: An orientation toward strategic behavior during goal pursuit. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 202002529 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2002529117
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and associate editor and continuing education director for NDNR. His mission is serving relationships that support the process of transformation, and that ultimately lead to healthier people, businesses and communities. His primary therapeutic tools include counselling, homeopathy, diet and the use of cold water combined with exercise. Node considers health to be a reflection of the relationships a person or a business has with themselves, with God and with those around them. In order to cure disease and to heal, these relationships must be specifically considered. Node has worked intimately with many groups and organizations within the naturopathic profession, and helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic Revitalization (ANR), which works to promote and facilitate experiential education in vitalism.