Personal Development


Photo by Sean Quillen on Unsplash

Chapter XXVIII – Developing a Growth Mindset

I am Jude. I believe in myself and I can achieve anything I set my mind to! This statement is powerful and has personal significance for me. I repeat it to myself as often as I can remember and it has become part of my personal mantra. It’s also indicative of a concept called a growth mindset. 

Growth and fixed mindsets are terms coined by Carole Dweck in her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which describes the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.

Over 30 years ago, Carol Dweck and some of her fellow academics became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded well while others were devastated by even the smallest setbacks.

Their research was groundbreaking and has informed our understanding of learning.

People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence, skill or mastery of a task can be developed through effort and intention. Many times these individuals are among the most successful personalities in the world. They reason that anyone can improve their abilities in whatever they set their minds to.

They embrace challenges, expect struggle and earnestly believe that their talents and abilities can be developed. They are curious and are usually lifelong learners. 

This doesn’t mean that we each have the potential to become Martin Luther King Jr, George Washington Carver or Dorothy Vaughn. Some people are just different. However, it does mean that we all have unique unrealized potential and that we have the ability to be more. 

Individuals with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, believe that their intelligence and abilities are limited. They are of the opinion that these traits are finite and predetermined at birth, leaving little room for change or development. 

People with a fixed mindset get anxious and upset by mistakes. They question themselves and personalize defeat whenever they inevitably stumble and fail. 

As Ms. Dweck suggests,

“failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.”

Carole Dweck

The legendary basketball coach John Wooden says that you’re not a failure until you start to assign blame. When you fail to acknowledge your mistakes – you stop learning.

However, to be clear, a growth mindset is not a destination. You never truly arrive. It’s a journey – one that involves small, progressive steps to Be Better. Nobody possesses a Growth Mindset in everything, 

The reality is that all of our thinking lies somewhere along the ‘mindset continuum’. Mindsets are described as either Fixed or Growth, simply to help contrast the difference between the two extremes. 

Ms. Dweck’s research demonstrates that we all possess attributes from both mindsets and that our perspective changes depending on our respective circumstances. 

For instance, it’s easier to adopt a growth mindset in areas when you have confidence and  it’s much more difficult when you are confronted with uncertainty or self-doubt.

As we move farther along the continuum, our understanding of our abilities changes and we become increasingly aware of our capacity for growth and development. As a result, our responses to challenges, setbacks and poor decisions shift accordingly. 

So forestall any limiting thinking that focuses on what you don’t know and supplant it with the credo of what you don’t know YET! Instead of saying “I don’t know how to find greater peace” replace it with “I don’t know how to find greater peace, YET”.

It’s only one word, but it is a reminder of our innate capacity to learn. It insists that anything is possibe! 

I am attempting to adopt more of a growth mindset in my everyday interactions with the world. I am seeking new opportunities to grow, I am more willing to be uncomfortable and I am accepting failure as part of the learning process. 

Consider your thinking. 

What areas of your life would dramatically improve if you adopted more of a growth mindset and convinced yourself of your unlimited potential? What could you achieve and who could you become?

Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting 

Final Invitation to the African Life Coaching Information on Thursday April 21st at 8:00pm. 

Come join the informal discussion about what life coaching is and isn’t and how it can positively impact your life. Learn how to access professional coaching and what to expect in a typical life coaching session.

Join Zoom Meeting

Your Next Best Read – The Prophet by Kahlil Gibral 

Kahlil Gibran is considered to be one of the world’s bestselling poets but, if I’m going to be honest, I never heard of him before reading this inspirational work. 

Since it was published in 1923, the Prophet has never been out of print and tens of millions of copies have reportedly been sold. This literary classic has been translated into more than one hundred(100) languages and is an international best-seller.

It gained popularity both during and after the Great Depression and it became known as the ‘counter-culture Bible’ in the 60’s.

The book is made up of 26 prose poems, delivered as sermons by a wise man called Al Mustapha. He is about to set sail for his homeland after twelve(12) years in exile on a fictional island when the people of the island ask him to share his wisdom on the big questions of life: love, family, work and death.

The book recounts his humble responses, observations and direction. These axioms are simple and straight-foward but refer to the fundamental precepts of spirituality. They are life lessons that position you to live better. 

It is an extremely short read but it is powerful and thought-provoking. It took me less than an hour to complete it but I am still considering the author’s beautiful language and Al Mustapha’s life lessons.  

I am very sensitive to evangelical books, especially ones that seek to proselytize and convert new members. This is not religious doctrine. Instead, it’s spiritually enlightening work that essentially focuses on Breaking Free and Being Better – and I am down for that. 

What’s good – Positive Reflections 

I am finding examples of inspiration everywhere. I am bearing witness to a growing number of individuals who are embracing change and are choosing to live more aligned with their values, goals and aspirations. 

We all want to escape our internal conflict, negative thinking and current circumstances. Most of us develop grand plans to Be Better. We can envision successful outcomes and identify appropriate actions – but following through is incredibly difficult. 

For some, it’s losing weight or getting up earlier, for others spending time with family or saving more money. Regardless of the goal, altering behaviours and ignoring our material desires, requires intention, discipline and grit(passion + resolve). 

Luckily for me, some familiar faces are applying new solutions to old problems. They are challenging self-imposed limitations, turning adversity into opportunity and effecting change through their daily efforts and intentions. 

It is inspiring when people you care about choose to live differently. They become living affirmations of compound effort and demonstrate that incremental changes yield meaningful results. 

Reading, watching motivational videos and introspection are all serving me well in my personal development journey but there is something unique about observing someone else making meaningful changes in their lives. 

I believe it is easy to lose your way when you are trying to Be Better. You constantly need encouragement to remain on the path. Thank you for your respective examples. Please understand that your efforts are positively influencing others.

So keep going. We are all benefiting from your efforts.

Public Announcement

The next in-person Black Men’s Mental Wellness Check-in will be held on April 30th at 1:00pm in the Orange Room at the Colchester Library. It has been months since we convened for a face to face meeting. 

I am looking forward to reconnecting and engaging in another meaningful discussion. I’ve personally missed the interactions and find them a unique source of inspiration. There is nothing like communing with other brothers about shared experiences, thoughts and aspirations. 

There are always convincing reasons to stay home. However, I believe I can safely say that most people benefit from sharing, listening and unburdening. There is power being in a common space. 

It’s rare that we get the opportunity as Black men to express ourselves in a safe forum that is focused on our feelings, needs, thoughts and personal challenges. 

So come out, check-in and chop it up. Make the decision to dedicate time to your mental well-being, supporting other brothers and strengthening your community. The return is well worth the investment. I am Jude. 

Photo by Siviwe Kapteyn on Unsplash

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