I mean…I’m upwards of fort-…ahem…twenty-nine and I’m a reader and a thinker and I’ve come to love learning and I’ve always been curious about all kinds of things…I’ve even, with help from my son and math instructor Jennifer Kriechbaum, come to appreciate math, for God’s sake…
But my big, dopey puppy has recently made me realize how small-brained, or “fixed-minded,” I really am.
You may be familiar with Carol Dweck’s work regarding mindsets…it’s been all that and a bag of Fritos for the last decade or so…if you aren’t…here’re the Cliff Notes:
Growth Mindset: I can get better, do better, be better…always and forever exist in a continually superlative state…challenges, struggles, criticisms and setbacks…puh-sha…bring ’em on…I know no kryptonite…
Fixed Mindset: I ‘yam what I ‘yam…it is what it is…judgey-doubt…judgey-doubt is what it’s all about…
So here I am thinking I’m pretty evolved…and then comes this big, dopey puppy who desperately wants to sleep on my bed.
Trouble is he couldn’t get up…the circumstances seemed “fixed” against him…the bed was too high; a tricky, rolling table at the foot; fixed-mindset people with wagging fingers tsk, tsk, tsk; oversized paws; a too-heavy head and ears that don’t quit…
My big, dopey puppy understands, in less than six months, what life is all about.
A growth mindset isn’t just about effort…it’s about new strategies and feedback…a repertoire of approaches…he tried the chair first…until it reclined…on to the tricky, rolling table…clothes slipped off and so did he…so he nosed the clothes off and rolled it aside…
Great effort! You tried your best! We smirked…he was not deterred…he smirked, getting even more excited, thriving on the challenge and setbacks…he was learning with each failed attempt…a running start on the wood floor, slid him into the corner head-first…
No harm-no foul…his ego wasn’t even bruised.
After a week or two of struggling, failing and figuring it out…his persistance paid off.
Maybe there’s still hope for me, though my ego does bruise…when I asked him his secret…he suggested I reflect on the following:
- Do you feel overly anxious or does a voice in your head warn you away from challenge? Watch for it when you face a setback.
- Do you feel incompetent or defeated?
- Do you look for an excuse? Watch to see whether criticism brings out your fixed mindset.
- Do you become defensive, angry, or crushed instead of interested in learning from the feedback? Watch what happens when you see someone who’s better than you at something you value.
- Do you feel envious and threatened, or do you feel eager to learn?
My big, dopey puppy reminded me: Accept those thoughts and feelings – work with and through them. And keep working with and through them.
I mean, Carol Dweck couldn’t have said it better herself!
P.S. Stay warm and cozy this weekend, chickens…stay close to the coop!