Looking back, my high school days were successful. My grades were above average, I had very positive relationships with my teachers and I loved my friends. I lived in “growth mindset.” That was until the 2nd semester of my senior year when I had difficulty in my math analysis class. I had always gotten A’s and B’s in math until this class. I loved math and was planning to be a math major in college. In this final semester, I found the class so difficult that I became paralyzed and frightened. I couldn’t wait to graduate and my failure in this one class clouded the end of my successful high school career. In fact, I applied to colleges that didn’t require a personal essay because I was so intimidated by the evaluation and anticipated rejection. I had entered into a “fixed mindset” and believed I couldn’t perform well academically.
Fortunately, I got into college. In the first few months, I was still having difficulty in math and rather than search for help, I had already determined that the left side of my brain had reached its limit for mathematics. After a couple of years of struggling and feeling lost, I needed an answer. I decided to focus on the right side of my brain and switched my major to English. I struggled there too, but thankfully graduated. “Fixed mindset” had severely impacted my college career.
Following graduation, I landed an internship under the guidance of a mentor for whom I am still grateful. After 5 years of wasting my time in college, I fell in love with business. I felt empowered almost immediately and within months of starting the internship, I was offered a permanent position and then I was promoted. This boss/mentor nurtured my “growth mindset” and gave me my confidence to succeed back. This experience showed me that I had not lost the ability to learn and my brain wasn’t broken. Because of this experience, I found joy in learning again and understood how to use it to solve problems.
Twenty five years later, my desire to learn continues in every aspect of my life. Over the years, there were still times “fixed” rather than “growth,” but none as obvious to me as back in my teens and twenties. Like the pendulum, life moves from good to bad and then back again and back again. If we strive to stay in a “growth mindset” then the difficulties of life become learning opportunities, lessons, and for some, true awakenings.
Read Mindset – it is a wonderful resource. Here is the link to Carol Dweck’s website - http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/index.html