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Growth Mindset

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James and Peter are young men in their early twenties.  James is tall and lanky.  He also has a face that is not very remarkable.  Peter is of average height, but he is also quite unremarkable asides from an unruly mess of red hair on his head.  What makes these young men worthy of being written about has nothing to do with looks but has everything to do with the way they approach life.  They are both brilliant college students who are preparing to enter the real world.

Peter is all about getting as much knowledge as he can get, and as such, he is often seen trying out several things and trying to find ways ingenious ways to interact with them.  He does this even with something’s he is completely terrible at.  When he makes a mess of things, which he often does, Peter laughs at himself and usually tries again.  James does things a little differently.  James tends to stick only to things he is good at.  He tends not to try out many new things, and whenever he makes a mistake, he gets very upset and has been known to quit things when he makes a mistake.  The greatest thing you can do for James is to tell him how clever he is.

Peter is someone who has a growth mindset, while James has a fixed mindset.  A person with a growth mindset embraces challenges and finds them stimulating while a person with a fixed mindset avoids challenges.  A growth mindset person is persistent at trying to solve problems while a fixed mindset person tends to give up early on issues thinking they are too hard.  A person with a growth mindset tends to learn more from criticism than a person with a fixed mindset as criticism shows areas to work on rather than a person attack.  A person with a growth mind also tends to learn from the success of others and apply the principles learned from that success, while a fixed mindset person tends to be threatened by the success of the people.

All these characteristics come from the way both types of people view themselves.  A person with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence is a static thing, and you cannot improve it with much learning.  A person with a growth mindset believes intelligence can be improved with consistent effort, and it can be improved in any field the effort is applied. 

Most of us are a combination of Peter and James although in varying proportions.  We will all agree that we want more of Peter than James does in our daily lives.  Having more of a growth mindset will potentially change our lives drastically.  The wonderful thing is that it can be applied to any area of our lives, from relationships to work.  How do we then cultivate this wondrous growth mindset?

The first thing you need to do is to change the way you think slightly.  You need to believe you can improve on any aspect with consistent and continuous effort.  This is fundamental to developing a growth mindset.  You also need to be honest with yourself and point out places you are weak in.  If you do not do this, you would never learn to improve yourself.  You would keep hiding in places you think you are already good without growing.

One major thing you would need to realize and remember on your journey to the growth mindset is that you do not necessarily need the approval of other people.  Getting approval or accolades from others feel very nice, but it does not necessarily help you.  In contrast, it tends to make you keep doing things that will earn you those accolades repeatedly.  If you operate more with the growth mindset, you will make many mistakes, and you would likely get a lot of disapproval, which can kill your growth in its infancy.

As you develop your growth mindset, you would need to learn to fall in love with the process of growth rather than the result.  This is because you would get many results that are not encouraging.  Bluntly put, you would fail a lot as you learn to cultivate your mindset.  This is not a problem.  What most people call a failure is simply the process of learning.  When you learned to walk, you fell several times, but you kept trying.  You did most likely because standing was a novel experience for you, and you were not focused on the result but on the process of walking.

One crucial thing you must not overlook in your journey to improve your mindset, it your company.  You need to be around other people who are continually trying to improve themselves, people who have a growth mindset.  Doing this will significantly enhance the likelihood that you will develop a growth mindset.

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