Why Does Zuckerberg Speak Chinese? Develop a Growth Mindset - Common Sense Living Newsletter
Common Sense Living India

Why Does Zuckerberg Speak Chinese? Develop a Growth Mindset

Oct 31, 2014


The whole world was a little taken aback recently when they saw Mark Zuckerberg speaking Chinese. Whoa, they remarked, not only was he a billionaire genius inventor of Facebook, who changed the way the world makes friends and does business, he is also multilingual.

Here's what my friend Shivan said when he heard the news, 'While I'm whiling away hours doing timepass on Facebook, that guy is off learning Chinese and improving himself!'

And that is where his genius lies - not in building Facebook, but in his mindset.

Here's why Zuckerberg is learning Chinese - to challenge himself. When asked why he was studying it one of the reasons he gave, other than impressing his Chinese wife, and wanting Facebook to break into China, was: "I like challenges."

Mark Zuckerberg, the Inventor of Facebook

His love for challenges is probably an underlying factor for his success. It shows that he approaches difficult tasks with a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

Those with a fixed mindset believe that their talents and abilities are what they are - if I can't do it then I can't do it, I just don't have it in me, there is no way around it.

Those with a growth mindset believe the more they work at something the better they will get - talent and ability are just a starting point that can be developed, anything can be learned, and obstacles overcome.

The way people with these two mindsets see obstacles explains why some people become the best of their field while others just coast at the bottom, according to development psychologist Carol Dweck, the developer of this theory.

People with a growth mindset believe in their efforts, rather than talents.

You will often hear successful people say, 'I am not that smart/talented' or 'I'm just an average guy'. What's extraordinary about them is not their talent, though, it's their mindset. The belief that if they just work at it, they will make it. They see obstacles as opportunities for learning, not reasons for stopping.

There is some truth in the old adage, practice makes perfect. I say some truth because although practice probably won't make you perfect - even the greatest athlete can't get the goal every single time - it will bring you closer and closer to success. So, practice takes you towards perfection.

But forget perfection. Perfection is an incredibly far goal to set your sights on. If you're moving from 0 to 100, you'll probably get exhausted by the 10 mark. On the perfection scale, anything short of perfection becomes defeat, even if you trudge on till 99, you will still be in defeat territory.

The Perfection Scale

Instead, focus on growth. On the growth scale, each step towards your goal is seen as growth, and there is no room at all for defeat. As you see yourself growing day after day, step-by-step, everyday is a success.

The Growth Scale

Even if there are a lot of steps and a long way to go... each step becomes worthwhile.

With each step you see yourself growing, learning. If you have your eyes set on 'success' or 'perfection' you won't see the advances you make with each step. The burden seems too big and too heavy and you think, 'I can't do this. I'll go for something easier.'

So take that step and take one more. And then one more. And don't stop. Until you have reached...

10,000 hours.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, puts forth the theory that to become great at something 'you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours.'

That sounds like a lot, and it is. So if you're not great at something, don't think, 'I have failed.' Instead, think, I haven't filled my 10,000 hour quota yet, but I'm on my way.

Don't fall into the 'I'm special' psychological trap.

Growing up, I was always good at schoolwork, so parents and friends and family would go on and on about how 'smart' I was. Eventually I began to believe them and grew up thinking I was smart.

But then, as I got older, I realized I was trapped in my own perception of 'smartness'. The moment I failed at something, or had difficulty with something, I would suffer the greatest disappointment. If I was so smart, how could I fail? So I would stop trying things that did not already come easily to me.

I was trapped in a 'fixed' mindset. I am what I am. My ego tucked away protected from failure.

They were trying to help, support and encourage me of course. But Carol Dweck says that how you praise is very important in developing mindset. Instead of praising innate ability, 'You are smart, talented, etc.', praise should be directed at the process, 'you worked so hard at that, you tried very hard, you did a good job' which helps to develop a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, if you think you can do something because you are good at it, the opposite becomes true for you as well - you can't do certain things because you are not good at them.

How many of you have thought, 'I'm just not good at English, or painting, or being social?

A growth mindset allows us to break out of the trap of 'our abilities' and 'our talents', and become open to developing any ability, and any talent, and not seeing challenges as failure.

Embrace challenges.

Zuckerberg doesn't speak Chinese very well. When he spoke to a large audience of Chinese students at a university in Beijing, he stumbled, and messed up quite a bit.

And that's okay. It didn't matter that he wasn't perfect, because he has been studying it every day and will continue to study it - and he will keep getting better. That is growth.

A growth mindset can be seen in entrepreneurs who give up cushy jobs to jump into the deep end of startups, in business owners who grow and expand year after year, in adults who go back to school to learn something new, and in professionals who steadily rise to the top.

The MD and CEO of the Rs. 28,000 crore giant, Hindustan Unilever has a growth mindset. He said in a recent interview, 'Before you win in the marketplace, you have to win the battle of the mind.'

I can see the growth mindset in our wealth coach Mark Ford. When he was young he was poor, but decided to become rich. So he did everything he needed - worked hard, learned about wealth building, tried everything, failed - until, although gradually at first, he began amassing wealth. Now he is a multimillionaire who can generate wealth in a hundred different ways.

He then decided he wanted to write books, make movies, practice Jiu Jitsu the Brazilian martial art - and has mastered all of these.

A growth mindset allows you to tackle anything head-on, and master it.

So grow into this mindset

If you have a fixed mindset, you will hear your own voice telling you, 'I can't'. But now with a growth mindset you can tell your fixed mindset: I can. I will. And I am growing everyday.

And that will make every day a success.

Editor's Note: Next week I'll share with you a unique method for assessing and developing a growth mindset. So stay tuned, it's something we all do or have done in the past....


We request your view! Post a comment on "Why Does Zuckerberg Speak Chinese? Develop a Growth Mindset". Click here!

5 Responses to "Why Does Zuckerberg Speak Chinese? Develop a Growth Mindset"

Sridar Chari

18 Nov, 2014

Thanks for showing us how to see the other side of the coin. Your article gave me a clearer idea of whats " I can" and whats "I can't" and the mindset required to near the goal by "growth".

L V Gopal

07 Nov, 2014

The article is refreshing. If we wear the Positive Mental Attitude ( PMA) talisman success is within striking distance. Only we limit our advancement and our future and the wealth we are looking for is right beneath our feet.

Bhagwati Agarwal

02 Nov, 2014

Thanks for sharing wonderful articles.Its goes that human mind is mischievous it justift its every action it did.

Raghuveer Singh Rathore

01 Nov, 2014

Hi Ma'am Anisa, This great man Zuckerberg is the inventor of facebook. Wow ! Simple but inspiring as to why Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, because he wants facebook to break into China, where facebook doesn't work at all. I think, all know that. This dude seems cool & wonderful person, who never hesitate to accept challenges. He is a person with confident mindset.


01 Nov, 2014

Very inspiring and thought provoking.


Sign up for a wealth of Common Sense Living ideas delivered to your Inbox for free every week.