Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about Carol Dweck’s concept of a “growth mindset” versus a “fixed mindset” at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about your potential and how you can increase your potential. This is a saying that I’ve kind of lived by for most of my life—I always say this phrase in my mind—“Become what you have the potential to be.” Become what you have the potential to be.

But here’s the kicker. Your potential is not fixed. In other words, your potential today is not the same as your potential tomorrow. If you actually go out and take action, if you step outside of your comfort zone and do something that you’re not comfortable yet doing, something that’s new for you, a challenge, if you do that, you’re going to blow out your potential. In other words, let’s say there’s something I’m not comfortable doing today. Like, for example, I’m a speaker – I mean, that’s what I do for a living. When I started, I was nervous like crazy to get up in front of people. I got nervous and I still get nervous. But now I have learned to deal with it. I understand those emotions and I can channel them in a way that actually it adds to the clarity of my mind when I’m speaking.

Even when I do these videos, when I started doing these videos, I used to really stumble on the fact that I’m looking at a camera right now. I’m not looking at you, I’m looking at a camera, and it takes a while to get used to that. But then you get used to it, now I’m used to it, and what does that mean? That means that my potential has grown. My potential is bigger now than it was before because I stepped out of my comfort zone and now I’ve gotten used to something that I couldn’t do before.

Your potential is not fixed. Your potential grows every time you take action. And if you don’t take action, if you just do the things that you’re good at all the time, then your potential, it doesn’t even just stay the same – it starts to contract, because now you’re more and more afraid of those things that you’re not doing, because you haven’t done them in so long. That’s why so many people look back on like their high school years or their college years or university as the best times in their lives, because it’s so stimulating because they’re forced to constantly do things that are new for them. They’re taking new courses. They’re playing new sports. They’re meeting new people. They’re doing new activities. So they’re being forced to do that because of the institution of education and university and so on. So they’re outside of their comfort zones, so their potential is growing and growing. It’s very exciting. But then afterwards we get out of that mode and we don’t push ourselves, and so we just do the same thing all the time and our potential just contracts around us and our comfort zone actually gets smaller.

This is basically the same thing as the difference between what they call a fixed mindset and what they call a growth mindset. There’s a book out and it’s actually called Mindset, and it talks precisely about this distinction. And guys, it makes a huge difference. They’ve done research. They have actually studied this kind of stuff and the difference is enormous if you have a growth mindset.

What’s the distinction? The fixed mindset is that, look, I was born with a certain amount of capabilities. It’s in my DNA. You hear people say things like, “I’m just not good at that. I have never been good at that.” That’s a fixed mindset because they’re assuming they can’t learn to become good at that. A growth mindset is, “I can learn anything.”

And they’ve studied it. It’s true, in many cases. I mean, maybe not the extreme things. Like I’m five foot nine, I can’t be a professional basketball player. I’m not tall enough. But aside from those sorts of like physiological constraints, you can learn almost anything. That’s a growth mindset. And the difference in performance in a person’s life is dramatic. People with a growth mindset perform better in life. They succeed more than people with a fixed mindset.

So are you someone who says, “That’s just not me. I can’t do that. I’m not good at that,” or like, “I’m always pessimistic. That’s the way I am?” You can change all those things. You can change from being pessimistic to optimistic. You can change from being optimistic back to pessimistic. You can relearn these things. It’s called neural pathways. And you can actually install new behaviors. They say a new habit is formed by doing something for 21 days, so you can do something for 21 days and literally change the way you think. You can change all these things.

In fact, the insurance company MetLife, they once did a study on this and found that the difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset was the biggest determinant in success of their salespeople. And so they installed a new test that they were giving people who are applying for work and they hired only people who had a growth mindset, and it changed their sales figures dramatically. It was a huge change when they did that, and of course now all the other insurance companies have followed suit because people with a growth mindset particularly in sales consistently outperform those with a fixed mindset. And there are tons of examples of this kind of stuff.

So push yourself into doing things you’re not good at today. Take a risk. Put yourself out of your comfort zone. You will learn to become better at that thing. The hardest day is the first day.

And sometimes people don’t realize how quickly they can actually improve at something. If you focus on something literally for 20 hours—they’ve done studies on that, too. It’s called rapid skill acquisition. So how long does it take to actually acquire a new skill? Well, a lot of people say that as little as 20 hours can make an enormous difference and you can learn to be good at something that you weren’t good at before, or at least proficient.

So my challenge to you is to step out. Step out of your comfort zone. Do things you’re not used to doing, that thing, maybe that dream that you’ve had in your mind for years, something you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it’s buying a guitar and learning to play the guitar, or maybe it’s going rock-climbing and going to maybe one of these indoor rock-climbing gyms and getting used to it. Maybe it’s taking swimming lessons. Maybe it’s learning a new language. Maybe it’s speaking the way I have. This is what I do for a living. Maybe you could start approaching rotary clubs and Lions Clubs and start speaking in front of people. Whatever it is, take that challenge. Step out of your comfort zone. And if you do, your potential is going to grow, which means that you can go even further in life than you thought just the day before you did it. Step out and see how much you can make your potential grow.

Thanks for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.