If we boil our behavior down, most would agree that our actions are based on a
need to AVOID PAIN or a desire to GAIN PLEASURE.
We assess a situation, and if it means that there may be pain, we look for another avenue that may offer some brain candy in the form of Dopamine.
The question then begs, how do you program yourself to experience those feel-good feelings, regardless of the circumstances?! To one person, the idea of undertaking a difficult task is wrought with thoughts of failure and imagined pain. Others, when faced with the same task, will see it as a challenge to be savored, something to extract a lesson from.
So how do you then make the change within yourself, to see something that you normally thought of as damn-near impossible, to become an opportunity for growth and self-improvement?
An answer lies in what Carol Dweck has described as a FIXED vs a GROWTH mindset.
In a FIXED mindset, we believe that we are born with certain talents and skill-sets and have a natural predisposition towards being good at some things, while we also literally suck at other things. (I’m bad at maths etc) If I’ve decided that I am not good with numbers, then what’s the use of me even trying to understand them.
She called the other mindset a GROWTH mindset, which is a way of looking at challenges whilst remaining indifferent of the good opinions of others. We may get a ‘NO’ on our report cards, but are able to see the NO, more as a NOT YET.
This is a tiny, yet powerful nuance, for it affects how you approach challenges.
My 2 girls illustrate this very well. Ruby Rose has read more books at 17, than most adults do in a lifetime. Her command of the English language is impressive and her peers think she’s gifted. The problem is that she is now not enjoying English as much as she used to, because of the pressure that her peer group’s perception on her has put on her to perform. Her grades are beginning to drop from the high 90’s to the mid 90’s. The reason for this is that she is now afraid to put a foot wrong because everything she does needs to be as amazing as her class thinks she is.
Compare this to my youngest daughter. Dakota copies her sister and reads almost as many books. The fact that she reads Tolstoy as soon as her sister has completed it, is testimony to her voracious learning mind. My guess is that Dakota is going to be magnificent at English because she is indifferent to the good opinion of others. She doesn’t care what you think about her, and if you were brave enough to let her know that you thought she was awesome, she’d probably just shrug and smile politely. She’s not trying to be awesome, she’s tapping into the dopamine she gets from learning.
It’s the same with writing a piece in the mornings. I have received the most amazing compliments for the little pieces I write, and every morning I stand the risk of writing something that completely misses the mark, but while I care, I choose not to care too much, because this would rob me of the growing I do when I reflect as I do.
Teach yourself and your kids that challenges are opportunities in disguise, that it’s ok to suck at things. You need not be perfect, right out of the gate, but as long as you’re giving it your best, heck – something’s gonna give. Nobody is born an expert. If you can turn your NO’S into NOT YET’s, you’re giving yourself permission to be imperfect and that’s perfect!