I’m a terribly slow reader, hence it has taken me over 6 months to read this short book called ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck. The book didn’t have an intriguing cover, and after the first few pages I felt like I was reading more of a textbook than I wanted to be. After giving up for a period of time on it, I decided to pick it up again and keep reading as I had read some other articles on mindset and wanted to learn more. Since becoming a father to twins, the time I have for reading is definitely limited. On weekends, I have trouble deciding to sit down and read for an hour during the highly coveted 2 hour nap time vs. ‘getting stuff done’. And by the time 7:30pm bedtime rolls around on a weeknight, I get a page or two in and want to fall asleep. I should also mention here that I have always felt a constant pressure to get moving and be productive as I’m simply wired this way. This can be both good and bad: I am constantly looking for the next project or adventure which keeps life exciting, but I often forget to slow down. So, for my mental health, and for my personal development, I have been more intentional as of late to set aside time to relax and read which for any other busy bodies out there, I highly recommend.
This book touches on personal growth and success; parenting, teaching and coaching; business and leadership; and relationships. All of which I have a vested interest in developing myself…
Fixed mindset can be defined as the belief that your qualities or abilities are set in stone, and this creates an urgency to continually prove yourself. Whereas with the growth mindset, your basic qualities are things you can improve upon and develop through continued effort. “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
“ ’Becoming is better than being.’ The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be.”
“Change isn’t like surgery. Even when you change, the old beliefs aren’t just removed like a worn-out hip or knee and replaced with better ones. Instead, the new beliefs take their place alongside the old ones, and as they become stronger, they give you a different way to think, and act.”
As a dad, this book had a lot of good thoughts on parenting but the one thing that has stuck with me has been the theories around how praise can harm, and how to use it well. Messaging is key in how we deal with children, and although I’m pretty much a rookie in this department, I was able to extract some wisdom (I think) from this book. Every comment we make, or action we do in some way or another tells our kids how to think about themselves. “ It can be a fixed mindset message that says: ‘You have permanent traits and I’m judging them.’ Or it can be a growth mindset message that says: ‘You are a developing person and I am interested in your development’ “… I feel it will be key to help my children cultivate a growth mindset by praising their effort when they succeed, and encouraging them to continue trying when times are tough. When I’m in the middle of something ‘important’ and I feel that familiar tug on my leg. I occasionally find myself ignoring them, or telling them to go see their mum. I know that this has the potential to create an empathy gap, which I am steadfastly trying to counteract by being more responsive whenever possible.
When the girls were around 1 year old, Nora had picked up walking relatively quickly and was starting to venture out on her own. Willa had started to ride a strider trike at 9 months, and was all over riding that thing all around the main floor of our house, but had no interest in walking. At one point we were starting to get a little frazzled that Willa hadn’t walked yet. At this point, the girls were still spending full days with Bethany. And, as if she had been saving it up to show me, one day when I got home from work, she confidently strode across the room to greet me. It took a few days of her not walking all day, then me coming home and her walking right away for her to feel confident. I really find it interesting to see what motivates and drives children to do the things they do. The things that are happening in their brains are amazing to think about and I definitely want to encourage them to develop growth mindsets as they grow up.
With respect to my own career as an aspiring ‘engineer’, I’m constantly searching for a job that ‘satisfies’ me. What I mean by this is that I have an engineering degree, and have worked a number of jobs in different industries and in different positions and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. This is literally a daily struggle for me… I have a great job, am able to support my family, and the lifestyle that we have come to know, but I still find myself wanting more… just not sure what more is. Personal growth is a big part of this, and I think the issue I find is that my career holds me back from the personal growth I desire. Perhaps this is where I lack a growth mindset in looking at each challenge as an opportunity for growth as opposed to what I currently do which is consider myself fixed and not able to grow… I also wonder if I’m selling myself short and settling for this regular job I have, and what is holding me back from pursuing my next big idea (while still supporting my family of course). I don’t have a great answer for this yet…but with a growth mindset, I hope I can continue to develop and pursue the things I am passionate about and at some point ‘figure it out’.
Over the past few months I have become more attuned to mindset, and am trying to ensure that I’m looking at opportunities and challenges with the growth mindset. I believe that over time, I’ll be able to make this stick and have this be the way I look at all aspects of my life. Change isn’t easy and there are always setbacks, but instead of beating myself up, I will try to learn from them. “It’s a learning process – not a battle between the bad you and the good you.”
Credit to: Mindset, The New Psychology of Success; Carol S. Dweck, PhD