Hello *insert your name*
Happy new year 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽
Welcome to 2021!!. The phrase on my mind is “Stretched but not broken” (@IFS your word lol)
Thank you for riding with me in 2020, reading my posts, sharing my posts, and leaving your comments. I am grateful for your time. Please kindly leave me your feedback here.
On new year’s eve as we were seated in the living room, my roommate asked a question regarding me knowing how to do something (can’t remember the exact thing). I responded with I don’t know how to do it (in my head, case closed lol). Then she asked my brother and he said something along the lines of “I don’t know how but I can learn it”. She followed up with our responses and was like see the difference. Hahaha, me I just looked at her, slightly bowed my head and said and this is what my next blogpost is on oo.
That up there is a very good summary of the growth and fixed mindset.
The growth and fixed mindset is a body of work credited to Carol Dweck, a psychologist. The first time I heard of the concept was in 2017 and I was reminded again while reading “Unmask your beauty” by Adedoyin Omotara of Adoniaa beauty. When I took the assessment then, I was easily the chair person on the fixed mindset table.
According to Carol Dweck, people with the fixed mindset believe that intelligence is set in stone, would rather not expose their weaknesses and definitely avoid any challenges. People with the growth mindset on the other hand, believe that intelligence or smartness can be cultivated and see difficulties as learning opportunities.
I want to share with you why the fixed mindset was not serving me and why I decided to move to the growth side.
- Pride/Unhealthy Comparison: Yeah! Whew I like to think that most Nigerian school systems celebrate a major (or two) type of intelligence primarily logical and linguistic will be the other. The schools, based on your mathematics and science performance, would most likely push you to science class even if all you want to do is write. (For example, think of Chimamanda Adichie who was initially studying medicine because she was “smart”). So in my case, if I failed a subject or you know did not get a certain grade, I felt above that and I would interpret it as a function of who I was rather than just the situation. To give a case in point, when I did not immediately get into a university in Nigeria, despite having a good JAMB score and WAEC result, I would question how me, compared to xyz, did not get in. (I hope you get my point now?)
- Fear of failure: Coming off the back of that, I feared failure and so I hardly embraced anything new. If I could sense it would challenge me, make me vulnerable, expose an insecurity, I will just find a way to shut it down quick. So I stayed a lot in my comfort zone and was a lot more worried about what people would say, and we all know “a comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” – unknown
- Lack of Staying power: Because I ran away from challenges, my staying power was little. As soon as I started to see that this thing was giving me headache, needed extra attention, I just started to zone out and you know tell myself the famous “if it is God, it has to be so easy” whereas I was just being mentally lazy. If I had to push through and enter an unfamiliar mind terrain, I would shut off most times.
- Impossible to change: I rarely thought I could change a behavior because I felt it was set in stone. Like I could not make things better and you know, “that is just me”. I would get defensive a lot with feedback and did not realize the power I had to actually be like no, this has go to go and actively seek out resources for that.
- Caged: Yes, sometimes I felt caged. Like there was some expectation of me I had to live up to and if I slipped up, then rather than “I could try again, I was doomed.” Like no one needed to see Temi fail or be disappointed in me. I wanted to be super human and get it right always the first time. Talk about the pressure I put on myself.
Here’s what the Growth Mindset showed me, and continues to show me instead;
- Learning opportunities: I can embrace my failure events as learning opportunities. It didn’t mean I was bad as a whole, it just meant some parts needed more work to be done. I learned to at least try sometimes and do it afraid. I also learned that my trying should majorly be for me, not to look good to somebody else. That successful people have failure stories that have helped shape their journey. This helped when I was putting out my e-book, I was afraid people would be like what is this girl doing but to be honest, I was prepared to take that and still keep it moving rather than be paralyzed by it.
- Appreciate Uniqueness: I started to appreciate people’s diversity. The things I didn’t have as my natural strengths but that someone else had. I didn’t have to, there was (and still is) absolutely no need to compete with anybody. I would look at someone and be like wow, they are the life of the party but me if I go there, BIG ERROR lol, I would be acting out of place because I am not a naturally put-the-spotlight-on-me person but I saw that it was their thing and rather than snigger, I appreciated that strength. I started to see and compliment people’s intelligences – musical, interpersonal, etc. It started to be more than just you know book for me.
- Staying power: I started sticking through. Having the difficult conversations, pushing an idea, believing that something could work even if it wasn’t showing signs at first. I was putting in more effort over leaving it to chance.
- My responsibility and the possibility: I saw that to identify and pursue what I wanted to change was on me. I embraced asking for feedback. I did not believe again in set in stone and sometimes extended this grace to people. I saw that a negative behavior here and there (if you are Nigerian, read that with all the factors lol) did not had to keep being a negative behavior and then I felt free. I understood my humanity. I could slip-up and I did not have to stay down (the irony lol). I can grow!
You might be wondering;
How long did it take? It is an ongoing process but realizing where I was, was a great starting point.
Do I still catch myself in the fixed mindset environment? – Yes I do and then I flip it as needed.
Finally, I think about Jesus and the miracle of feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. The disciples were probably like omo x 1000, how do we want to proceed? Like, this is impossible and Jesus is there telling them we can do it, never say never, it will work, I see the possibilities, Let’s have faith and put in effort.
That’s the growth mindset. Because it has never been done does not mean it cannot be done. There is a capacity for stretch. Embrace the growth mindset this year.
Happy New Year once again.