Some thoughts that might help you as you are getting ready to go back to school. This topic requires you to do a little deep thinking, but I know that you guys can handle it.
Have you ever heard about the two mindsets that people can possess? Don’t worry if you haven’t, I have only learned about it myself a few years ago. A professor named Carol Dweck spent more than thirty years studying how people succeed. She published her findings in a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She came to understand that people operate in two different mindsets. A fixed mindset believes that our intelligence, skills, and talents are fixed traits that we are born with and can’t change. A growth mindset assumes that those traits are not fixed and can be changed through effort and learning.
When we are babies we tend to have a growth mindset. We will babble as we are learning to talk and fall down as we are learning to walk. We don’t care if we sound silly or look funny; we just want to learn how to master the skill. As we get older we tend to worry more about what other people think and we develop more of a fixed mindset. People operate in both mindsets, but we tend to default to one or the other in certain situations.
If you have ever said something similar to this statement, “I’m just not good at math,” or “I’m not musically inclined;” your brain was operating with a fixed mindset. I myself have said similar things to myself and about myself many times. But turns out-that is not true. So brain science has discovered that our brains have neuroplasticity, which is a fancy word that basically means our brains can change and grow. This doesn’t mean that we will all be able to do something to the same extent, but it does mean that everyone of us has the potential to get better in any area.
Dweck discovered that when people with fixed mindsets experienced failures or setbacks they struggled because they feel like the situation is unchangeable. However when someone with a growth mindset faces a failure or a setback they see it as a learning opportunity. They realize that their brain is a muscle that they can strengthen and grow, and ,in turn, they will try harder to learn and improve.
Have you ever heard a story or watched a movie about a person who defied terrible odds to accomplish something great? Those people were able to do those things because they did not allow themselves to be limited by their circumstances and what other people thought. They may not have been good at something at the beginning. But they gave themselves the freedom to make mistakes and to work hard and do things imperfectly, until all of those learning experiences combined to make them a success.
So where am I going with this? How can this help you? If you can catch yourself when you are using a fixed mindset and change the way you think you will be more likely to succeed in every area of your life. Instead of saying, “I’m not good at math,” you can say, “I’m not good at math yet.” Don’t fear failure or making mistakes, but realize that is how your brain learns and grows. Most skills are not easy for most people. If you are struggling that is because your brain is learning and growing. It is not wrong to try to come at the challenge from a different angle or ask someone else to help you. There is no weakness in that; you are helping your brain muscle work and grow. If it comes easy, your brain is not growing. Give yourself grace and realize that your attitude and effort will get you farther than talent ever will.
If you want to learn more about growth mindset here are some resources.
For the teen in your house:
- The GRIT Guide for Teens
- Big Life Journal – Teen Edition: A Growth Mindset Journal for Tweens and Teens
For the adults:
- Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance
- The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child
- How to be an Imperfectionist
I believe in you guys! You can do more than you think you can!
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