Corina Manea

Growth Mindset Has Nothing to Do with IQ and Everything to Do With Attitude

By: Corina Manea | January 21, 2016 | 

A Growth Mindset Has Nothing to Do with IQ

By Corina Manea

They say attitude is everything.

If you want to succeed in your career, you need the right attitude.

If you want to land a client, you need the right attitude.

This goes for the negative stuff as well: With the wrong attitude you hit wall after wall after wall.

Attitude is Everything

Your attitude determines your days, your connections and friendships, your personal and professional success and, even, your failure.

Someone with the right attitude and state of mind, lights up a room and can change other people’s days and lives.

John C. Maxwell said,

People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.

Indeed, sir!

Think about it for a moment: How many times you’ve been to your favorite Starbucks shop and got back filled with positive energy from talking with an enthusiastic barista?

Now think about how many times you let the negative energy of your colleague who always has a reason to complain and ruin your day.

In both cases, it wasn’t because what they said, but about how they said it. You felt their attitude and it affected you.

These are not just some empty words. One of the country’s best-known research psychologists, Carol Dweck, spent her entire career studying attitude and performance. In her latest study she found that your attitude predicts your success better than your IQ.

Come again?!?

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

She found people’s attitudes are either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

In English, please.

People with a fixed mindset think they cannot change who they are, refusing to challenge themselves. Therefore every time they encounter a challenge, they feel hopeless, overwhelmed and stressed.

On the other hand, their counter parts with a growth set of mind see challenges as a means to improve themselves. They embrace change and challenges, they see them as opportunities to grow.

Guess what?

They outperform those with a fixed mindset even if their IQ is lower.


Because what they lack in IQ, they substitute with effort.

Now, that’s something to think about every time you start whining of not being able to do this or that.

And before you start thinking too hard in which of the two categories you fall, let me tell you, you can develop a growth mindset because it’s only up to you.

Three Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

  1. Be relentless. We have so many examples of people who simply refused to give up despite failure after failure. From Steve Jobs being fired from his own company, to Walt Disney being fired because he “lacked imagination,” to Gini Dietrich who didn’t hide when there was no money left in the bank account. No, she regrouped and found a better solution, hence Arment Dietrich today and this blog. Bottom line is believe in yourself no matter what. Believe in your work and never give up no matter how many times you fall. Get up in the ring again. Remember, you write your own history.
  2. Go do it. It’s fine to read motivational books and to listen to hundreds of hours of podcasts. But without action they are worthless. You know how you over exercise and the next day your body hurts all over the place (hello squats)? But, as soon as you start walking, at first with difficulties, it gets easier and easier, and in no time you feel like yourself again, only you feel better and more powerful. That’s how people with a growth mindset act when they face failure and uncertainty, and challenges. They embrace them and take action. Oh, did I mention that the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and you feel like a winner? Well, that too!
  3. Be consistent. Now all this sounds great, but it has no value if you don’t do it every single day. Challenge yourself every day and make a conscious effort to be a little better than you were the day before. Keep an open mind and adjust and adapt when challenges come your way. Having an open mind, helps you find solutions where others only see problems.

The Compound Effect

Make a deal with yourself to have the right attitude and state of mind every day, no matter what life throws at you.

Take small daily steps that bring you closer to your personal and professional goals.

And forget the naysayers and complainers. Have you seen a naysayer successful at anything other than complaining?

Me neither.

Focus, take action, and be consistent.

Now, if the above doesn’t convince you, think about what Herm Albright said

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

Isn’t your day suddenly brighter?

The floor is now yours. Fire away.

About Corina Manea

Corina Manea is the chief community officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She works directly with Spin Sucks students and writes for the award-winning PR blog. She also is the founder of NutsPR. Join the Spin Sucks  community!

  • Hey there Corina,,

    Great thoughts – how glad I am that Gini was tired last night. 🙂

    This reminds me of the Mary Poppins classic, “A Spoonful of Sugar”. While attitude may not be the exact same as sugar, it definitely sweetens the path of getting where you need to go, as shown by your examples.

    My five year old son is currently discovering the emotion of frustration.
    When he hits a brick wall at something, his first instinct is to quit.

    Understandable – he’s only five, after all. But I sit with him, and we talk about the other times he felt this way, and how – through a mixture of perseverance and experimentation – he made it past the roadblock.

    Then we talk about how he got super excited, and couldn’t wait to show his mum, his sister, tell his friends at school, etc. So he starts again, and – more times than not – gets past the roadblock.

    IQs and smarts are useful, for sure – but emotional resonance trumps even those two strong traits. Here’s to attitude.

    • Hey Danny,

      First of, is there something you don’t know??? 🙂 And thank you!

      That’s so great you help your son understand how important is attitude and not to quit too soon.

      I grew up in a society (back in Romania) where failure was seen as something bad, even the smallest ones like school grades. And instead of focusing on helping you see what you did wrong and how you can improve, they were busy pointing fingers.

      This led to many people quit too soon on any kind of pursue they wanted to make.

      I was little different, when people told me I couldn’t this or that, I just got stubborn to keeping it my way. And that’s because of something my father said to me early on: “never give up on something that’s important to you.” May be not in so many words, but that was the essence.

      Helping your kid understand how important it is to tear down those walls it’s freaking AMAZING! Thumbs up, sir!

      Here’s to attitude!

      • I love your dad’s quote – very wise.

        We put way too much pressure on our kids to be what we want them to be, as opposed to allowing them to find out who they want to be.

        There’s a kid at my son’s Tae Kwon Do class, and his dad is relentless at pushing him. The thing is, he’s teaching his son the wrong things, so Master has to reteach him, and that just makes the kid fall behind.

        I often want to punch the guy and just yell, “Leave him the f*ck alone!
        Don’t channel your own failures through your kid!”

        Of course, I never do. But, man is it tempting….

        • Ugh, I would like to punch that guy, too!

          Maybe the Master can have a talk with him.

          We call ourselves an advanced society, but we still haven’t learned how to treasure what we have (kids, families, wife, husband, etc) and see them for who their are, not what we want them to be.

        • I hear you on that, Danny. I see it all the time with kids and running. And, honestly, I used to be that parent egging my kid on “you’re gonna let that fat guy beat you? (it’s true — I’m not proud of that choice!). But what the parents who are still doing it (I’ve reformed!) miss is that running (and any endeavor worth doing) has to emanate from bringing the RUNNER joy. It has to come from inside. Berating them to meet an adult’s expectations definitely backfires in the long, um, RUN.

          • Excellent point, Paula. As adults, we’ve been sucked into the mindset of, “Well, you’re an adult now, you have to do that.” And, to a degree, we do (like not staying out until 4 in the morning when you have kids to look after the next day).

            But the best results we get are when we do something we love, or – at the very least – enjoy. So why do we feel kids would be any difference, especially since they’re not as emotionally advanced as [some] parents..?

          • If we can teach our children to pursue what they love and be thinkers, we’ve done a great job as parents. We want to step in and guide too much (at least I do!), when maybe we should step back and watch.

            Silence is hard.

            Maybe we’d all be better parents, co-workers and people if we learned to talk less, listen to ourselves and others more, and allow people to make their own mistakes and form their own opinions.

            It’s not the easy path, but maybe the better one.

          • Can’t argue with that sentiment, miss. Like you say, though, ego often gets in the way (“We know better, dammit!”).

            Except we don’t. We only know what’s better for us. So why do we feel so smug in the knowledge we know better for others, kids included?

  • Howard Barrett

    Corina- great post! True,Practical and importantly,Useful

    Look forward to more from you

  • howiegoldfarb

    Interesting because you can’t feel attitude online unless it is video with lots of beanie babies around.

    great post Corina!

    • Thank you, Howie.

      Allow me to disagree. You can “feel” attitude online from what people share, the words they choose when they comment on other’s posts, etc. You can learn a lot from studying people’s behavior in the online world.

    • Oh, I see – use your real name here, eh, “Hoooooie”….. 🙂

  • I loved this post. Validated everything I always thought. I strive for a positive can-do attitude every single day. THANKS!

  • I love this! Just like growth has nothing to do with IQ, success has nothing to do with how smart someone is, either – it’s just related to the amount of work, focus and determination someone is willing to invest.

    Don’t let excuses, procrastination and self-doubt make you your own worst enemy! Most of us do.

    • “Don’t let excuses, procrastination and self-doubt make you your own worst enemy!” Amen to that, Carrie!

  • Very interesting read. With a great attitude you can accomplish anything. I thought your idea of the compound effect was very insightful.