‘Nope. I can’t do it. I listened to everything that you said, I still tried but it didn’t work. I knew it wouldn’t work. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it’ *whilst crossing arms as if to say ‘I told you so’*
Does that sound like you? Have you ever heard yourself say that either to yourself or out loud to someone else?
Have you convinced yourself before you have even attempted something that you won’t be able to accomplish it because what you were trying was out of your comfort zone? Or you had already tried something similar and you had trouble with it?
The fixed mindset has you in its grips!
If you have the fixed mindset, you believe that your talents and abilities are set in stone-either you have them or you don’t. You must prove yourself over and over, trying to look smart and talented at all costs. This is the path of stagnation. (Carol Dweck – ‘Mindset; The new psychology series’)
For me my earliest solid memory I have of this fixed mindset and of the feeling of ‘nope! I can’t do it’ was in year 7 at secondary school:
I was adamant that I’d never be able to learn how to use the internet when I was being taught for the first time in class when I was 11 years old on school computers, back in the day when the screen monitors were each the size of a small house. I was also damn certain back then that it was a waste of time for me to even have to know because *insert flouncy and uncooperative voice with folded arms swinging in my chair in front of the computer* ‘what even was the internet anyway sir? It will NEVER catch on.’
Hmmm, I think my stubborn pre-teen self definitely underestimated that one ay!
Fast forward twenty years and the internet definitely did catch on and I can in fact use it and can navigate it pretty much with my eyes closed.
I could learn.
I had the capability.
But I chose to not try and to give up. I had a fixed mindset that was in protectionism mode – I’d told myself I ‘would definitely fail’ just in case I struggled in my first few attempts and didnt want to lose face. That way when it happened it isn’t as embarrasing or hard to take because I had already set myself up mentally in preparation for that to happen. As mentioned in my last post You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…or so the saying goes…. it then goes on to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Lets now have a look at the flip side of the coin – the growth mindset!
If you have a growth mindset, however, you know that talents can be developed and that great abilities are built over time. This is the path of opportunity-and success. (Carol Dweck – ‘Mindset; The new psychology series’)
We all have to start somewhere right? We can learn, we just need to have the right open mindset in order to achieve it! Get started by trying new old things – smaller projects based on something you did before but not wholeheartedly and felt you didn’t accomplish. Starting small and becoming good at these challenges is where you build your confidence, and then go on from this point to tackle the larger tasks as they come your way! For me I did this by:
1. Doodling: When I was at school I was always doodling on all of the covers of my exercise books. Every single one of them. Nothing special at all, just weird squiggles, but I never did anything but scribbling, I didn’t believe I was creative as I wasn’t doing those types of subjects in school, such as Art or Design or Textiles. In January of this year I decided to try my hand at being creative and didn’t care if what I did was rubbish, I was going to stick with it and practise. I invested in some drawing pads and pens, got started and just kept doodling. I hadn’t done any type of creative drawing in years and had never created something from nothing. But I proved myself wrong:
2. Skipping: I SUCKED when I first picked up a skipping rope a few months ago and I had whip marks all over me because I had the wrong size rope and trying to jump too quickly before I had mastered the basic technique (see my war wounds photo below!) But after a while of persisting, and buying my own corrected length rope that wasn’t a torture weapon I started getting the hang of it and trying new little tricks. On my instagram page @powerofwordsandyou you can see my progress in a video I have posted.
3: Playing a ‘brain-train’ game called 2 Cars: This is a really simple game which you can get as an app on your phone or tablet and is based on the simplest concept. Your left thumb controls the left red car, and your right thumb controls the right blue car as they both drive in a straight line and you have to move the cars left and right independently to dodge the squares and run over the circles.
Sounds easy right? WRONG! If you can go download it now do it and give it a try, its free. But be warned, it is addictive and HIGHLY frustrating as you seem to have to get your left and right brain to work independently of each other and be fast with your reflexes. When I started I couldn’t get past 1 on the scoreboard, then within half an hour I was managing to get 4 but couldn’t get past 20 for at least a couple more hours. Now my top score is 1250. *takes a bow and waves to the applauding crowd*. If I had given up in the first hour I would have thought it was impossible to get past 5 points….clearly I was wrong with that assumption too. I didn’t actively seek this game to consciously practise the growth mindset, but when I looked back I realised that it what I had done.
Don’t get me wrong, I still find some of my initial reactions to things out of my comfort zone as ‘ooooh crap! I can’t do this!!’ but then I immediately check myself, and shut that negativity down. The small little skills I have become good at in the above examples may seem insignificant in what I have achieved in the grand scheme of things, but it has had a massive impact on me mentally to where I consciously now sit within my growth mindset to make sure I persevere with things I find daunting and challenging, and make sure I remind myself I can do it.
Next step: Conquering the world. That shouldn’t take too long right? Think I can get that done in half an hour then put my feet up.
So now the final question of the day: If you know you have a fixed mindset mentality yourself – what are you going to do about it?
Thanks for reading,