Change to a growth mindset
Change to a growth mindset

I finally finished reading the book ” Mindset: the new psychology of success” by Carol Dweck recommended by  a friend, two years ago — thank you Brighid. The book is a landmark for a new era of understanding the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.  Many chapters of the book made me examine my own life.  The explanation of the growth mindset and how it will help everyone — including the introduction of peace to so many hot places — creates hope of a better future. In one of the examples in the book, the author explains the fixed mindset story of Chef Bernard Loiseau, one of the most recognized chefs in France and in the whole world.  In 2003, after Chef Loiseau received a score of 17 out of 20 in the GaultMillau restaurant ranking magazine, he was so devastated that he committed suicide.  A chef with so much talent could have continued living with great success. Unfortunately, Chef Loiseau had a fixed mindset.  When he scored low by his definition, he viewed himself as a failure. It is amazing what is considered a failure in the fixed mindset.

What struck a chord with me in this book is that as soon as I read it, I came to the sad realization that I raised my son to have a fixed mindset. As a caring father, I always encouraged him by saying, “You are bright with natural talent surpassing all the people I have known!”

My son grew up to believe that talent is enough for life. You are either born with it or not, without the need to work hard and learn from experience and knowledge. When I discussed things with him, I tried hard to highlight that talent is not enough to allow you to overcome the difficulties in life.  Hard work and not giving up as well as learning are also important. Ignoring his Dad’s advice, he used to tell me how many people he met in school who cannot understand math and computer programming and how math was very easy and natural for him.

In a way, he was justifying his fixed mindset without me realizing it.  Interestingly enough, I am a strong believer in the growth mindset.  When I started my graduate school years ago, I had a terrible experience of taking the first exam. I did not understand one of the questions. As a result, I scored low. I was devastated when I saw the results.  I told myself that I only need to be sad for two days and forget the pain.  As I promised myself, I was sad for two days and marched ahead studying more and figuring out what went wrong on my exam.

On the second exam, I got the highest score in the class.  My growth mindset allowed me to be determined that whatever obstacles I faced, I would mash them, and they would not block my way forward. I worked very hard in my graduate school by planning to publish as many papers as possible, a great indicator of a successful graduate student. By the time I finished my graduate school, I had 3 papers published in high ranking scientific journals.

As I was cultivating my growth mindset and learning from experience after finishing graduate school, I started to get depressed looking for a job. In many discussions with other graduate students about the possibility of finding a job, we talked about the stiff competition with all these smart people from Ivy League schools. I even got an email from a pharmaceutical company telling me that they only hire Ivy League graduates.  I was deeply affected by this email for weeks.

Practically without exception, everybody agrees that finding a job is very hard. Although I didn’t know it at the time, in retrospect, I realize that adopting a growth mindset allowed me to survive many challenges, and, in fact, it gave me an edge. Right after finishing graduate school and after reading three books about how to find a job, I was given the advice by a friend that I should not be picky because the first job after graduation is just the beginning. After getting your first job he said, you need to use all your energy to cultivate your networks and find the job you want. In his own way, my friend enlightened me to adopt the growth mindset.  This was wonderful advice.

Now, I will be spreading the “word” about the value of the growth mindset to the people around me all of the time.  I like to increase their confidence that whatever they do is only the beginning. Things will be better in the future if we adopt the growth mindset and improve ourselves.  In the last year, my son was able to apply this growth mindset and work hard to achieve his goal of finding a job by himself.  I was happy that this new teaching of creating a new growth mindset is working.

This post is usually published on Saturdays. Please let me hear from you.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might be interested to read the following posts:

  1. The joy of ignoring failure.
  2. It is  time to change how we look at stress
  3. Why laughter is contagious.

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