For Apple’s brand new, top-secret project, Scott Forstall, a senior vice president, wanted to recruit a team comprised of solely growth-minded individuals. Forstall was a fan of psychologist Carol Dweck who defined a “fixed mindset” that places artificial limits and avoids failure and “growth mindset” that generally thinks big, exhibits more positive effort and experiences less helplessness.

To isolate the growth-minded employees at Apple, Forstall delivered a curious pitch to superstars across the company. He warned that this top-secret project would provide ample opportunities to “make mistakes and struggle, but eventually we may do something that will remember the rest of our lives.” Forstall surmised that those who jumped at the opportunity were growth-minded individuals who, far from growing dismayed or discouraged by the tremendous challenges that lay ahead, they would remain inspired, curious and committed through the arduous process.  

It was this team of growth-minded individuals that ended up creating the mildly successful gadget called the iPhone. (From Gary Keller’s The One Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results)

The impact our mindset has on what we accomplish in life is remarkable – and also frightening. The good news, as Dweck points out, is that mindsets can and do change. Like any other habit, you can set your mind to it until the right mindset becomes routine.

While a Jew should always be growth-minded, it is during the month of Elul, the Hebrew month before the High holidays, that we are reminded to examine how we’ve reverted to a life-model of fixed-mindedness and proactively switch gears. Every morning during the month of Elul the resonating sounds of the shofar echo in synagogues, reminding us to wake up from our spiritual slumber and meet the challenges of the moment.  

Elul invites us to reconsider the possibilities of our lives – how we might increase the meaning, commitment and purpose in our lives and veer away from the paths that aren’t leading us to where we want to go. With a growth-mindset, we can envision exciting goals for the new year that will challenge us to bring out our full potential.

Here are some growth-minded challenges to experiment with during Elul:

  • Consider adopting a mitzvah this month that you’ve been putting off but feel inspired about putting into practice.

  • Commit to learning Torah 10-15 minutes a day.

  • Pencil in a coffee date with yourself and journal about your spiritual dreams and aspirations – authentically consider whether you are on the path to achieve those ambitions and, if necessary, consider what it might take to get you on that desired path.

  • Pursue one quiet act of kindness a day.

  • Practice the art of gratitude.

  • Tackle one challenge that you keep pushing off.

  • Ask those you have hurt for forgiveness and wholeheartedly forgive those who have hurt you.