Updated: Nov 10
I recently saw the Carol Dweck presentation on Developing a Growth Mindset (1) (I’ve put the link at the bottom – do please watch it!) and it brought up a very specific memory for me. It was parents evening at my primary school, and I would have been seven or eight. I was already used to excellent feedback – I was never the smartest person at school – but I worked hard and because of effort I did well. And I believe this was driven by an enjoyment of praise and possibly more prevalent of pleasing others. These were the days when the children played in the playground whilst the parents tried their best to balance on child sized chairs in the assembly hall, still in work suits and heels and made a round robin of all the teachers relevant. Perhaps it is still like that?! I was therefore blissfully racing about the concrete yard, relatively at ease that all would be well – because I was a worker.
The summary from my mom and dad ran true to form initially – what a pleasure to teach I was, how polite I was, how hard I tried and mostly, how very normal I was academically. Until we got to maths. And here it becomes vivid – walking outside the school now, back along the road and the school railings and dad says “you’re just no good at maths. It’s not the end of the world, it doesn’t matter.” And he was utterly sincere, and I don’t think either he or mom gave a hoot about my abilities in that field or gave it a second thought from that day forward. And I have never forgotten that that was the day I became no good at maths. It became fact for me.
For those of you acquainted with my first chosen profession, this may have raised an eyebrow or a smile! Clearly, I have managed!
So for me it is maths and every person will have their equivalent “I am not good at..” or “I am not …”. The most prevalent in my coaching relationships is around confidence.
“I am not self-confident”.
It is quite a statement to make – it is so definite and somehow, so final. And there is such a desire to attain it, or even partially attain “it”, but there is often another character in the room with us, a lurking doubt that seems to suggest that as bewitching as this goal of self-confidence is, it’s not really obtainable for you, it can’t really be true. But what if it was?
It’s really only in the last five or so years, as my interest in personal development, mental health and resilience gained pace, that I learned about neuroplasticity, and I stumbled into it via the Mindfulness programme that I was in. I have always “known” that we as humans can learn new things continually – I learnt to drive, to pass yet more post graduate exams, to learn a profession – but I don’t think I really truly believed that this extended also to my character, my behaviours, my mindset.
Pause for the science bit: An overview of fixed mindset versus growth mindset:
A growth mindset is defined by Carol Dweck as: Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others).
A fixed mindset: those who believe their talents are innate gifts. (2)
So, what happens to us when our self-limiting belief is caveated by the word yet? I’m no good at maths... yet. I am not self-confident .. yet. I can’t do that.. yet. I don’t know how…yet. That pushes my challenge button immediately. Isn’t it expansive? Consider the possibilities from here. What difference could it have made if we had been told that early doors, so that this was our belief? Ah ok, just not yet. It allows us the gift of a next step, to put a plan in place to attain it; as opposed to closing the door and walking away from something we believe can never be ours.
I shall leave you to watch the video to see what they found in study after study.. it’s just lovely and provides further evidence, if it were needed, that . Of course, it will require work and practice, and it’s there waiting for us, when not yet becomes now.
If you are interested in how I can work with you around self-limiting beliefs and more, you can speak to me directly, you can book a free initial one hour session with me here
You can learn more about me on YouTube https://youtu.be/B9EiOo-N7qI
And I am on Instagram and Facebook @start2thrive where I post nuggets I hope are of help 😊
1) Developing a growth mindset with Carol Dweck
2) Harvord Business Review - Carol Dweck