Despite everything going on in the world, this has been a pretty decent year for me. And if it hasn’t for you, let me share with you the difference and we’ll see if helps you make 2017 a pretty decent one for you.
It started with something I’ve been working on professionally. The point is to get people to approach work (and, well, life) with a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed one. The first time I heard the terms, I rolled my eyes at my theory-loving friends. But now a year and a half later… friends, I’m not gonna lie – it’s changed my life in nearly every regard.
First, let me get you up to speed with the help of my friend, Wikipedia:
According to Carol Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of “where ability comes from”.
Dweck states that there are two categories (growth mindset versus fixed mindset) that can group individuals based on their behaviour, specifically their reaction to failure. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, while those with a “growth mindset” believe that they can acquire any given ability provided they invest effort or study.
Think about it for a minute. Think about all the things you may have always considered out of your reach. Maybe it’s giving a presentation, managing people, doing math with letters in it, putting tile in your bathroom, fixing something on your car, potty training your super stubborn boy…
When you get it in your head that it’s something you can’t do – something seemingly completely out of reach – you may not even try. So you stay where you are, where its comfortable. Fixed mindset.
I did okay growing up in school but was never the superstar. I was smart enough to be in the honors society but not the smartest by far. And I was pretty convinced the kids who would spit out calculus with ease while I was still trying to master basic algebra were born that way. I was just never going to be one of them. Fixed mindset.
(Sidenote: Back then, I always measured myself by how well I did math – never by how well I could write. Kinda funny now that I think about it considering what I do for a living!)
Somewhere along the line, though, I noticed that I started conquering little things. Then the little things started adding up. I’d look back and get to thinking – hey I can do this. Make me learn to drive on a stick shift. Give me a harder project. Give me the kid with special needs. (For the love of Christ though PLEASE don’t make me do math with letters in it.) I did them. I surprised myself every time.
The day my daughter Abby was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome, I vowed that she would dispel stereotypes. I had a feeling then and know now that she can do anything she puts her mind to. (Perhaps only with a little bribery Doc McStuffins Toy Hospital episodes on the iPad but that’s besides the point) And holy heck SHE DOES. She can totally learn. And if she fails the first (second, third, twentieth) time, that’s okay – it makes for a sweeter success. Little by little, bit by bit, that’s how she – and we all – get smarter. Don’t limit her.
The high school vision of my adult self looks nothing like reality.
Ever since I changed the way I think, life has become a little more interesting. A little more terrifying. A little more fun. A lot more rewarding.
Try it… report back this time next year. 🙂