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The growth mindset – why we settle for less


Imagine that you have fifty 20-year-olds in front of you, and you are presented with the task of estimating how many of them would achieve their goals within a 40-year time span.

All of these participants are young, energetic and full of hope for the future. Why is it that only a very small minority actually accomplish what they set out to do, while the rest fail and end up stuck in their miserable daily routines?

What is it that these people lack? Is it motivation? The hunger for success? Or is it time?

In my opinion, it is none of the above.

No one starts out their journey while purposely aiming to fail. It also goes without saying that everyone craves success in its various forms, whether by achieving financial independence, raising a happy family or becoming famous and well-known.

As for time, it is equally dispensed among all of us. Whether we make use of our time by being productive, or if we spend it in leisure, the unstoppable march of time is, well, unstoppable.

As young people generally have less responsibilities, they are often more open towards change. Their limited life experience also means that they are more susceptible to dynamical change. The older we get, the more resistant we become to change. As we become more jaded from life, we naturally start leaning more towards stability and predictability in our daily lives.

Does this mean that the inevitability of old age is what kills our dreams and aspirations?

While it does make sense that a fully loaded car would be harder to push forwards, it doesn’t mean that moving the car is impossible. Also, reaching the destination is more fulfilling the harder it is to reach. As long as one never stops moving towards what they idealise, whether by taking long strides or just inching forwards bit by bit, they will eventually reach their goals.

Continuous progress. This is the essence of the growth mindset.

As explained by psychologists in Stanford university, it is “the belief that a person’s capacities and talents can be improved over time.” Self-learning is the essence of success. This can be observed in almost every setting, especially in education.

For example, if one does not practice solving problems while preparing for an exam, they are reducing their chances of success. On the other hand, if one spends adequate time revising and preparing, they are bound to get better marks.

Alternatively, if one believes that they are bad at mathematics, or that everyone else is better than them, they adopt a fixed mindset. This belief eats away at their resolve, until they eventually bring what they prophesised into reality.

This raises the question; how can one adopt a healthy and sustainable growth mindset? One way would be to view challenges and obstacles as opportunities for learning.

The fear of failure exists naturally in all of us, yet we must find comfort in failure, as it allows us to learn from our mistakes and eventually paves the path to success.

What I view as the pillar of the growth mindset is persistence – or “the indomitable human spirit” as younger generations describe it. Just as the waves eat away at rocky seashores, one should always push towards realising their ideals. After all, Rome was not built in one day.

It gets easier, everyday it gets a little easier, but you have to do it every day, that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.

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