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Do you possess a growth mind set?

Posted by Simon Parke, 03 July 2017, 5.50am

The fixed mind set and growth mind set are different; and both have their place as we make our way in the world.

You may not even be aware of how you use each of them.

Triggers for growth are generally the difficult places in life, places which we don’t seek out but will encounter.

So when I face a challenge, for instance.

Or receive criticism.

When my plans collapse.

When others do better than me.

When I’m threatened by something.

When I’m turned down, passed over.

When I feel defensive.

When I’m not successful.

When mistakes or deficiencies of mine are revealed.

When I feel I don’t have the ability in a situation.

In such circumstances, a fixed mind set will struggle to react with anything other than resistance, over-reaction, fear or flight.

You may know the feeling.

These will be old patterns of behaviour concerned with survival in the face of perceived danger; useful to us once but no longer so.

A growth mind set will respond differently, not resisting or running, but breathing…breathing into the difficulty, calming the pain and finding there the seed of something possible, something hopeful.

And contrary to popular representation, this is less about a gung-ho ‘I can!’ mentality and more about a resilient sense of ‘I am’.

Let me explain.

The growth mind set is often described as a ‘Can do’ mentality; but this can be both untrue and unhelpful.

Obama ran for President on the strap line ‘Yes we can!

It sounded good.

But then came the painful realisation that in the real world - well, sometimes we can’t.

Reality intervenes.

The truth is, I cannot do many things.

I cannot run through a brick wall, for instance, or become the best opera singer in the world, however much blue-sky thinking I engage in.

Nor can I become Queen by wishing it.

In these matters, a fixed mind set is a blessing, keeping us grounded, sparing us delusional fantasies.

So we need and possess both mind sets.

And as I’ve mentioned, the growth mind set comes into its own in our relationship to difficulty.

And its rooted in our own sense of value and meaning.

It is not so much about being positive, (though this may be a spin-off) as about being secure in ourselves, so that difficulty does not leave us with a diminished sense
of self.

While we do not feel diminished, we are open, honest and creative in the face of problems.

As soon as we do feel diminished by the situation, we are defensive, resistant and fearful.

Difficulty can be a trigger for growth if we are secure in ourselves, undiminished by circumstances.

It’s less about ‘I can’ and more about ‘I am’.

Here, in this difficult present moment, I still have value, I can still find meaning, so there can be adaptation and there can be growing.

The future is unwritten… but not undone.

The adventure continues.

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