A few weeks ago, I instagrammed about Mindset, a book I had just picked up.
I finally finished it. It’s a non-fiction, which means it took me longer to read it, because I journaled as I read. I don’t journal all my non-fictions, like Into Thin Air By Jon Krakauer or Dead Wake by Eric Larson, both brilliant narrative non fictions. But for books like Mindset, where I want to absorb the lessons and change my worldview, I find I can’t retain all the info I want to. Writing down my thoughts and reflections as I read allows me to understand it better, and to easily flip back to remind myself of key points.
If you have not encountered Mindset Theory before, you may wonder what the big deal is. Carol S. Dweck spends 246 pages telling you what the big deal is. Go pick up the book and find out.
I finished Mindset. And I want it to change my life. As a fixed-mindset person, my initial thought is, ‘it’s too bad I don’t have a growth mindset,’ and end it there. But, I want to develop a growth mindset, and the first step is to know that traits/talents/intelligence/mindsets are not set in stone, but can be changed.
I’m going to do a couple posts on Mindset, dealing with self, parenting and relationships. This may be an introduction post, or it may be the one on self. We will see. (I am a champion planner, as you can see.)
As I was journaling, I noticed that I was writing more about Fixed Mindset traits then growth mindset traits. Even though I want to change to a growth mindset, I am drawn to the idea that I can’t change and it’s too bad. About a third of the way through, I started consciously writing more about growth mindset and how to cultivate it. My mindset is changing already!!
The reason I want to change is because Fixed Mindset people don’t deal with problems and failures. They don’t find solutions. They assign blame. They are embarrassed if something requires effort. Criticism is a personal attack and devalues your worth. Failures occur because there is something intrinsically wrong with you.
To a fixed mindsetter, effort is terrifying because a) geniuses or people who are naturally superior aren’t supposed to need it; b) it robs you of excuses (ie I failed because I didn’t try).
To a fixed mindsetter, the hardest thing to say is “I gave it my all and it wasn’t good enough. I still failed.”
Both of these apply to me. I fear failure. I am mortified if I do something and I fail. I can’t talk about it. I pretend it never happened. I fear effort. I am mortified if I have to try hard at something. I don’t talk about it. I pretend I never tried.
If I look back at choices I have made, I can easily see where my fixed mindset has crippled me; where a fixed mindset allowed me to quit instead of trying.
While in university, I received a letter from the English Department after taking an English Lit class asking me to join the department. Despite the fact that reading and writing are passions, I never followed through. I didn’t want the possibility that I could fail at something I loved. In my mind, I finished at the top.
I was embarrassed that it took effort (ie: I needed to do all the homework) to get the A+ I got in first year Calculus.
I quit flight school because I didn’t comprehend the math immediately; I felt that if I didn’t get it in class, I would never get it.
These are really embarrassing to write. I want everyone to think that I made all the right choices, all the time with no effort. It’s kind of a crazy thought process when you really think of it.
I don’t want to continue to live this way. It is actually quite a dumb way to live. I have dreams that I want to fulfill, but they will take a lot of effort. And I may fail. But that needs to be ok.
A growth mindset is characterized by the idea that “I gave it my all for things I valued.”
Dweck said that confidence is not a necessary part of the growth mindset: you can give effort and acknowledge you can learn without self confidence. This is huge for me. I am not a confident person. And I have always used that as an excuse for why I don’t try things/talk to people/apply for experiences.
I think that the first step in growing my mindset is to stop assigning blame. And to stop tying my worth to my success. And to stop taking criticism as a personal attack.
I need to see failures as a chance to learn. I need to enjoy the learning that failures give me. I need to realize that people who are good at things are good because they have worked at it. Effort is a good thing.
And the biggest one: I need to see my worth as a Child of the King. It doesn’t matter if it takes me 100 tries to master something. The Creator of the universe is my God. I am His child. In what else could I possibly find worth that equals that?
(Clearly this was a post about self. I am glad I planned that out.)