Have you ever noticed, that when something’s on your mind, somehow a lot of what you hear, see or read, seems to be somehow related to the topic you’ve been thinking about? I’ve experienced it a lot lately. Some of my personal observations and reflections suddenly turn out to be a subject of a TED Talk, a new HBR article or a new inspiring video. I take it as a sign of a natural, human (mine in this case 🙂 ) evolution in thinking. I am restless when it comes to learning. I want to learn all the time and out of this personal choice I never want to be stagnant. I consistently look for ways to know better, do better and be better. This is just who I am.
But it turn’s out I’m not there just yet because there is more to it and there is science.
Recently I was able to identify that my approach to learning is scientifically validated and there have been books written about it. This was an exciting discovery for me! I am yet to read them… ALL! One of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Her research has focused on motivation, understanding why people succeed and how to foster success.
So here is the thing…
What if you could find out that you are absolutely not who you thought you were. In fact you are better than you believe. You can know more, achieve more and be much more of who you truly are. (We talk about this a lot! on our Coaching Courses and Personal Effectiveness Workshops.)
Oh, so you’ve heard it before? Great! …
What did you do about it? Did you listen… Listening and hearing are two different things. Are you listening now?
The main focus of Carol Dweck’s work is our mindset and the decisions we make in life about what we think and how we think. You can choose to believe that as a human you were born the way you are, you have a number of talents, a certain level of IQ and that’s fixed for life – in other words you have a “fixed mindset”. On the other side you can decide to be content knowing that in this life you are continuously growing and your path to success will be bumpy, there will be challenges and struggles but you will learn and become better and this process in itself is to be celebrated and is exactly where our attention should be. In this case you adopt what’s called a “growth mindset” and your life is all about learning.
What we do instead?
Afraid of challenges and upset by mistakes we achieve less. We are told to put on a brave face and to focus on the positive. And don’t talk about failure no matter what. The “F…” word… Our life is sometimes a design. We beautify it to ensure we come across as skillful (enough), knowledgeable (enough) and resilient (enough). Enough for what? To be worthy of belonging? (Brene Brown)
What is your life about?
You see… This life is not a competition. Don’t look for anyone smarter then you or less intelligent than you. You are not here to position yourself somewhere (as high as possible) on the SMART scale. You are not here to prove how smart, how talented or maybe even how beautiful you are. You are here to access resources outside and inside of yourself to make the most of your existence (hopefully also in service of others and making a contribution).
Seek Adventures in Learning
Find your path, not a path or someone else’s path. YOUR path.
Challenge yourself all the time. As Carol Dweck says “Don’t praise intelligence or talent. Praise the process.” You can grow and develop through your efforts and persistence, enjoying difficulties and achieving results despite setbacks. Because they will happen. Bigger or smaller, it’s what you do about them that is the key to success.
Do you have your own back when you take risks and it doesn’t work out? Indeed don’t talk about failure, but only if you are not willing to do anything about it except place blame and responsibility. It will indeed serve as an evidence of your inability to get immediately where you want to be skipping the stages of learning. Focusing attention on failure as a proof of your weaknesses, is a waste of your valuable resources of time and energy and will negatively impact your emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Your worth is not measured in how skilled you are in avoiding failure all together. And it’s not the image of perfection and success that gets you through. In fact these are the very factors that stop your progress.
Learn to learn. Never be far away from learning. Build life for and around learning and never stop… never stop learning.
Take a setback and make it count. Seek adventure in what didn’t and what doesn’t work out. Develop your skills over time. Step away from life that’s designed to make you “look good and feel good”. Can you feel the vulnerability in not being perfect? Can you feel the vulnerability in learning? Great, them let it in. You are the only person who can make room for it in you life. Take on this mission of learning in the pursuit of fulfillment. Be driven by passion, not by fear of failure.
Success is not unique and our choices are not fixed. Never for life. Some consequences, maybe, but they never define who we are and most importantly what our future is going to look like. If nothing else, my attitude and my mindset is ALWAYS my choice.
When you look back at your life at some point in a distant future, you want to know that you really went for it! Really! No one else has a shot in your life. No one can and no one ever will.
Open your mind and be truly ok with not knowing, not having answers and being ready to find them. It’s not just now. It’s a way of living.
And even though I only get to these concepts now, I am glad that there have been books written about them already. Because learning, is above everything else, my main focus, value and priority. I’m ready to fully adapt Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” and I’m looking forward to see what happens. I’m not quite there yet and it’s Great News! Because I can learn.
I’m taking on this adventure in learning for life. Care to join me?
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