Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Top Golf, an entertainment venue featuring fun golf games. I had a great time with my family but to be honest, my skill needed some work. The first 15 out of 20 balls I hit missed the mark every time. Attempt after attempt, I tried to do something different to improve and in golf, it turns out you have to do everything at the same time. 🙂 So I tried to straighten my grip, lengthen my follow through, keep my head down and turn my feet just so; and I continued to struggle to hit those targets. Wanting to keep things in perspective, I battled to keep my frustration from grabbing a hold of my attitude and giving up. The truth was I wasn’t very good at this…. yet. But as I finished out the time and tried to implement what I was learning, I made contact with those targets. My perseverance paid off. As trivial as this situation was, I wonder how many times in my life I quit something too soon because it was hard and chalked it up as failure?
After learning more over the last several years about mindset and leading our thoughts, I ran across the research of Carol Dweck, researcher and professor of psychology at Stanford. She wrote a book entitled, Mindset: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential. Dweck explains and compares two mindsets we can float in and out of throughout the day. The first is a fixed mindset that can keep us stagnant, self-focused and stuck; the other a growth mindset that can propel us into our purpose and potential and provide a foundation for us to persevere when challenges or obstacles inevitably come our way.
A fixed mindset comes from our belief that we are either good at something or we’re not. We’re either a natural or we’re not. And if we’re not, there’s really no use working at it, because it’s not something we should be doing. We’ll probably always suck at it. If things get hard, we quit. We avoid challenges and anything that could invite failure because we attach failure to our identity. Performance is the name of the game because we care how we look. So the very things that could help us grow and improve, become more skilled, intelligent or creative–things like hard work, challenges, obstacles, failure, feedback–we avoid and therefore don’t grow.
On the other hand, a growth mindset comes from our belief that we can learn and grow. People with a growth mindset embrace feedback, failure, hard work, and challenges because their focus is on growing themselves rather than proving themselves. Instead of asking, “How will I look in this?” they ask themselves, “What can I learn from this?” They understand failure isn’t final or fatal. They see that it’s not a tyrant but a teacher. They know that they can’t make a difference in this life without experiencing failure at some point; that failure isn’t the opposite of success but a part of it. In a growth mindset, when we hit a challenge or obstacle, our perspective invites us to step back, brainstorm possibilities and try again or try something altogether different. We persevere and in the process learn, create new ways of thinking and tap into incredible purpose and potential we may have never discovered otherwise.
Scripture speaks to the truths of the magnitude of our mindset; the way we think determines our direction, how we live and who we become. Mindset matters. Our minds can be renewed and rewired with new and healthy ways of thinking. So as we’re headed into that meeting, class or conversation, instead of focusing solely on performance which isn’t helpful or healthy, how about we shift our focus and ask ourselves, “What are my opportunities for learning and growth today?”