I think A LOT. Most of the time I’m thinking about how, somehow, I don’t quite feel like I’m living up to my full potential. Then I think, well what would I be doing if I was? What does my full potential look like? My answer to myself is always the same, “I don’t know, but what I do know is that I need to keep pushing or I’ll never know”. After a year of holding on to this book -yes, I am THAT person that buys books and doesn’t get around to reading them, ha!- I’ve finally dug into it and am so happy I did. Psychologist Carol Dweck says in her book ‘Mindset- The New Psychology of Success’:
“…a person’s true potential is unknown…it’s impossible to foresee what
can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.” (Dweck 7)
If this is true, what does it mean? It means that I can become GREAT if I find a passion, if I work and “toil” away, train, and get better. Now that I think about it, it’s obvious to me that I inherently believe this. This must be a part of my belief system if I feel the need to hope, dream big, take risks, work hard, push myself, and to always continue to learn. Ok…so I believe I am meant to be good at something, to be great and successful. Then why do I feel like I am not entirely headed down that road? What is holding me back? Why aren’t I reaching my full potential?
This past year has been a turning point in my life. I have gone through the most amount of change and personal growth that I have ever experienced in my adult life. Even so, until very recently this was me -I mean Dweck was talking about ME in her book:
“We often see books with the titles like The Ten Secrets of the World’s Most
Successful People crowding the shelves of bookstores, and these book may
give many useful tips. But they’re usually a list of disconnected pointers
like ‘Take more risks!’ or ‘Believe in yourself!’ While you’re left admiring
people that can do that, it’s never clear how these things fit together or how
you could ever become that way. So you’re inspired for a few days, but basically
the world’s most successful people still hold their secrets.” (Dweck 10)
I get inspired ALL the time, but I don’t always accomplish something as a result and I usually still find myself searching for the secret to success. So what Professor Dweck proposes, is that there are two mindsets: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. I work in education so I heard about this a loooong time ago, and of course I believe that my students have the potential to grow in intelligence,so I push them to their limits and rejoice with them in their Aha!-I-did-it moments. But I never really thought, specifically, about how the two mindsets relate to ME and my own learning, achievements, and success. As I’m reading her book, I think to myself, I’ve got to be a little of both since I believe reaching my full potential is a possibility, but that I am not ACTIVELY and CONSISTENTLY making strides to achieve it.
Has a fixed mindset been keeping me from reaching my full potential? Dweck explains that with the fixed mindset you already have to be or know something, that you already have a certain skill level (25) . But with the growth mindset you become, because it involves continuously learning. It involves pushing, or ‘stretching’ yourself as Dweck says, and following through, even when it gets hard or you feel like you’re failing (25). When we overcome challenges, we learn, and when we learn, we have acquired more knowledge or skill. This is in essence becoming better.
So when that oh-so-familiar feeling of fear -which I have mentioned feels paralyzing- creeps into me, that’s the fixed part of my mindset; it’s the part that says, “you don’t know how to do that and if you tried, you’d fail and look stupid”. This part of my mind rationalizes the safety of not taking the risk. When doing so, here is what I forget, and what Dweck reminds me: I don’t know how to do it YET. Yet, is the keyword and it implies that I will. Successful people don’t start off successful, but by sticking to it, even when it is HARD, even when they FAIL, or even if they look STUPID, they end up successful.
If it is possible to grow my mindset in order to approach my goals in a way that brings more success, then I don’t see the harm in trying. I have more to lose if I don’t try. So I look forward to reading the rest of this book and sharing my thoughts and progress! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!
Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantin Books. 2006. Print.