What’s Your Mindset?
Have you ever had a bad day when everything just seems to go wrong? When your to-do list is so long that it seems like an impossible feat to conquer? A day when you just want to throw up your arms and say, “I give!”
We all face challenges at various times in our lives. Sometimes the challenges are small such as, getting up at little earlier in the morning to get a head start on the day. Sometimes the challenges are big like deciding to start a new diet and exercise plan. Sometimes challenges are life changing, can seem overwhelming, and almost too much to bear. No matter how big or small the challenges we face, we can choose how to react to them.
Some people believe they have no control over what happens to them in life. When bad things happen they make excuses or blame others. It’s not their fault. They also believe they were born with a certain amount of ability or talent that can never really be changed or developed. They believe their traits are fixed, carved in stone and cannot be developed or expanded. Those folks have a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset can limit the achievement of both adults and children. Mistakes are viewed as failures instead of opportunities to learn for people with a fixed mindset. In fact, people with a fixed mindset will typically avoid difficult tasks in fear that they will fail and not be successful. A fixed mindset can be very limiting and turn people of all ages into non-learners. Non-learners who avoid difficult tasks, challenges and risks that may make them look less than successful.
Then there are those people with a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that their skills and basic qualities can be nurtured and developed. They believe that “effort is what ignites ability and turns it into accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2006) They believe that achievement is derived from hard work and commitment. Those with a growth mindset view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow as individuals. They enjoy a challenge and the opportunity to stretch themselves.
What do Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Lucille Ball all have in common? At one point and time they experienced failure. Abraham Lincoln had several failures and challenges that he faced over his lifetime. Einstein did not speak until he was four and didn’t read until he was 7. Ruth was famous for hitting homeruns but he also had 1,330 strikeouts in his career. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and Lucille Ball was told by her acting teacher to try another profession. So, what made them successful after experiencing failure? Was it their mindsets? Did they believe their skills and talents could be developed and cultivated?
As I wrote this article, I took a hard look at my own mindset. What is my mindset; fixed or growth? A majority of the time I believe I have a growth mindset. I like a challenge and truly believe that I can still develop my skills and abilities both professionally and personally. However, if I’m honest, I have to say that once in a while, on those days when everything seems to go wrong, it is easy for me to fall into the fixed mindset. It’s my choice. I can blame others, make excuses or turn the day into an article that others can learn from.
I encourage you all to read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. It’s a book that will get you thinking about yourself and your students. What is your mindset?