Change your mindset to reach your goals.

44547880This is one of the most important books I have ever read.  Based on what I learned from Mindset, I feel equipped to reach some of those goals that have eluded me for years.  And, as a mother, I have some new tools for parenting my boys so they embrace challenges and are prepared for any obstacles that come their way.  Read below for a “taste” of what I learned.

Are you a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?   Maybe you have no idea which mindset you might be, and you wonder why you should care.  But I assure you that the concept of mindset may be a game changer for you in almost anything and everything that you do.

The book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck, was suggested reading from my son’s 2nd grade teacher.  But this is not a book about parenting.   And the concept of “mindset” is just as important for adults as it is children.

The two different types of mindset:

The fixed mindset believes that your qualities are carved in stone.  We are each born with a fixed intelligence, capabilities, a certain type of personality and character.  These things cannot be changed.

A growth mindset believes that your basic qualities are things you cultivate through your efforts.  They believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable) because it is impossible to forsee what years of passion, toil and training will accomplish.

To further the explanation, I will summarize an example that was in the book: One day you go to a class that is really important to you and you really enjoy.  The professor returns midterm papers to the class and you got a C+.  Is your initial reaction that you are stupid or you like the class less?  Or, does this grade motivate you to study harder for the next exam in hopes of getting a better result?

Now take that example and apply it to a situation in your life where your results were less than optimal.  Did you quit that activity or start liking it less?  Or did you rethink the situation and find a way to achieve better results?

How does mindset affect your “possibilities” in life?

Mindset is an important consideration that applies to all the areas of your life: relationships, work, parenting or teaching.  Your mindset can affect whether you reach your goals and how you strive to realize dreams.  A growth mindset sees obstacles and criticism as important steps on the journey to achievement and they find these challenges inspiring.  More importantly, a growth mindset believes that their possibilities for reaching goals are unlimited. A fixed mindset interprets criticism and obstacles as sign that they aren’t gifted enough to reach their goals.  A fixed mindset believes the journey should be effortless and without setbacks if it was meant to be.

Think about some goals you have set in your life.  Were you successful?  As a fitness instructor, entrepreneur and parent I hear at least one person say, “I could never do that” every day of my life.  It doesn’t even matter what they are talking about, because I always ask, “Why not?”  Mostly they are talking about something that is completely within their capabilities, but they are just not willing to risk failure or put in the effort and hard work.  It is that simple.

How does mindset affect your children?

A fixed mindset child is most likely a child to whom things have mostly come easy- and as parents we brag and boast about our kids who are able to do something without much training.  We focus on the achievement instead of the effort. We tend to brag about the times our kids got 100% on their spelling test without studying (yes, that was me).  Or, “check out my kid: he started riding a two-wheel bike at 3 years old and never fell once”.    But our focus on results is telling our children that effort is for those who are not intelligent or not naturally coordinated.  These fixed mindset children shy away from anything that looks challenging for fear they might have to exert some effort and look “stupid” for lack of a better word.  As these children grow, and school becomes more challenging, their inclination is to loose interest, quit or claim a something was unfair.  Because admitting they can’t do it without effort makes them feel inferior.

A growth mindset child is usually a child who either had to put some effort forth in early endeavors or had parents who knew better than to focus solely on effortless achievement.  Maybe reading didn’t come easy and this child had to work a little harder than his classmates.  Perhaps this was the child who got up to bat at t-ball and kept missing the ball.  With the encouragement of the coaches and parents, this child kept trying then finally succeeded.  Learning at an early age, that anything is possible if you are willing to practice.  Effort is not a bad word, rather a means to achieving a goal.

How to change a mindset.

Purchase the book: Mindset, by Carol Dweck and read it cover to cover.  My summary here doesn’t really do the book justice.  At the end of the book, there is a great graphic that will help you see the path to a growth mindset.  Each day you are presented with ways to grow and opportunities to help the ones you care about grow.  You must look for these chances.  The path for a growth mindset is as follows: embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.  As a result, you (or those you help) will reach ever-higher levels of achievement.

To help your children embrace a growth mindset, focus on their efforts towards a goal.  If they play organized sports compliment them on their effort and contribution to the team vs. a high five for making it look easy to beat their opponents.  If they bring home a test with a less than optimal grade (don’t get angry with the grade), ask them what they might do in the future to improve that outcome.

Growth mindset oriented individuals make the best leaders, learners and athletes.  You owe it to yourself and your children to take a look at this book.

With encouragement and support,

Kristin Coons

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