Growing With our Problems
Having a Growth Mindset means that we can grow and learn with our problems...
You see, we all have all types of problems. It can be family problems, personal problems, a career challenge or maybe a midlife crisis. The goal is to try to overcome this problem. The key is moving past the problem. Moving past the problem, doesn't mean we get to a place where this never happened. If this process is done right, moving past the problem means that we are more strong, more whole and more the person we were meant to be than before the problem happened.
Some key shifts have to happen when we encounter a problem... or problems. I am very aware that problems do not just happen one at the time. Or does it?
First, I mindfully, and respectfully, recommend seeing the problem as a "growth opportunity", not a problem. Problems can give rise to opportunities instead of setting you back and causing stress and worry. Problems exist at the level of the mind, and are very subjective. What one person may identify as a major disaster, another person may determine as a small hiccup in life. So how much emphasis are we putting on the problem? Is it in capital letters or lower case letters? The choice is ours. If we go with the capital letter option, the result allows a problem to overwhelm us, or in the case of growth mindset people, become an opportunity to gain something. This may seem to be over optimistic, but I would suggest the process of life is in fact opportunistic. The universal energy of life is conspiring in your favor to bring you events and circumstances for your greatest good.
It is we that get in the way by limiting the level of fulfillment. Some times we just don't give ourselves much credit to being problem solvers, which leads me to my next topic.
Problem-Focused People vs Problem-Solving People
There are two types of people in this world. The key feature of people that remain stuck, is that they are using a problem-focused lens. They are asking problem-focused questions. Questions such as "What's wrong with me?... What's wrong with them?...What's gonna happen if things go badly?" You know what happens when we ask problem-focused questions, we get problem focused answers. As compared to "Can I look at this problem from different perspectives? What solutions are available for me to solve this problem? Can I implement this solution and use this process for any problems in the future?" Can you spot the difference?
School of Life
Much of the research into the growth mindset is related to formal education. Nope, not the best college or university. But its application is wide-reaching, tapping into the very heart of the university of life, the day-to-day opportunities for learning and growth that are ever-present for those with the willingness and the courage to see. Mindset alone dictates a huge part of success. Regardless of talent or skill, the way you view your capability has a huge impact on results. Believe you’re unintelligent and useless, and you’re more likely to struggle. But start believing in your potential and capability, and the results follow.
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
The fixed mindset views intelligence as static and leads to an attempt to look smart. Author Carol Dweck discovered that this outlook views imperfections as “shameful,” and students who identify as talented often lie to cover up perceived shortcomings. This leads to behaviors such as:
Giving up easily.
Seeing effort as fruitless.
Ignoring useful negative feedback.
Feeling threatened by others’ success.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, views intelligence as malleable. This promotes a desire to learn, encouraging behaviors such as:
Persisting in the face of setbacks.
Seeing effort as the path to mastery.
Learning from criticism.
Finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others.
I’d encourage you to take a moment to reflect on where you see yourself. Do you lean more towards a fixed mindset? Or do you embrace the growth mindset? If you see yourself as a fixed mindset person, I encourage you to use this opportunity to... yes, grow. A word of caution: growth mindsets doesn’t mean overnight transformation. Look for gradual improvement over time, and be kind to yourself throughout the process. The nature of human growth is very much cyclical, so don’t be downhearted by the times where it feels things aren’t going your way.
There is a paradox of growth, in that, to maximize your potential, you have to accept where you’re at, right now, and build from there. Trying to run away from who you are, or aiming to develop in order to become more worthy of lovable, actually restricts growth. Developing the right mindset reduces perfectionism, it doesn’t enhance it.
As stated above, start by lovingly accepting where you are right now. Let go of any "I should be this, or here". That causes resistance to the journey. You are right where you need to be. Let go of perfectionism. To develop a growth mindset means embracing imperfection and flaws, assessing areas that need work, not from a place of judgment, but from a place of equanimity. Be super honest with yourself. Only through self-honesty could I accept that this was holding me back in life. Have awareness that this is a life-long journey. Most people can acknowledge how much they’ve grown when looking into the past, yet drastically underestimate their potential for future growth. Check your approach to failure and rejection. You can chose to see them as "problems" or as opportunities to try again, or trying something different. Out of the comfort zone. To quote Brene Brown, “you can choose courage or you can choose comfort, you cannot have both.” Stepping outside of your comfort zone, into what is referred to as the “growth zone,” isn’t comfortable! But humans aren’t wired for comfort. A healthy level of stress is required to grow. This doesn’t mean diving in the deep end or over-exerting yourself, but instead, finds a healthy balance of strategies. What areas of life are you staying in your comfort zone? Where could you push yourself more? Develop a Not Yet attitude. Encouraging yourself, and encouraging kids to view intelligence and problem-solving as a work in progress (not a failure) applies to all challenges that naturally arise on the journey of self-development. This will be a great coping and problem solving skill to a child.
As Stephen Covey says, “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” View the growth mindset as a long-term investment, not a short-term fix. Begin applying the steps outlined above, and over time, the results will begin to show.
Blessings on your journeys!