“Mindset” is a buzz word everywhere these days.  But what does it mean, really? Does a growth vs. fixed mindset really make a difference in the long run? Does the way I think about things, especially if they are hard or even extremely difficult really affect the outcomes in my life?

Actually it does matter….a great deal!

Imagine you are looking down a path and you can’t see where it leads.  For some people, this is an exciting adventure.  Others wouldn’t dare to even start the journey if they don’t know where it ends.  Why? Could it be the fear of the unknown or there are just too many risks? Hmmm……

So my husband and I decided to take the path in this picture to see where it would lead AND because we knew there was an old cabin somewhere in the distance and we wanted to explore it.  To our surprise, we ended up climbing over what seemed like endless logs that had fallen from a major fire years before.  We, then, tried to walk in the meadow that ran along the burned out forest but we ended up in a swamp that soaked our hiking boots.  We learned to look out for certain plants that we discovered were always where the ground was the wettest.  We learned to look for certain clumps of plants that we could step on to stay above the marshy, wet ground (sort of).  By the time we made it back to our campsite, we had hiked a lot farther than we had intended, but we learned a ton about the area.  We saw more wildflowers than we had seen back at camp.  We learned about the wetlands that didn’t look wet until we were actually walking and sinking in the mud.  And guess what?  We never found the cabin!  Did that mean our journey was a failure?  Not at all.  The hike was exhilarating because we went further than we planned, persevered when the going got tough and learned so much along the way.

If we could look at education as a journey, I wonder if our perspective would change when it came to difficulties and/or challenges, especially when those challenges include difficulties like dyslexia, ADHD, dysgraphia, etc.  A growth mindset says that difficulties in the journey are good because of they allow for many growth opportunities.  A fixed mindset says that difficulties and/or challenges are a sign of failure.  Growth is a better path to success than a fear of failure, right?  Yet, we seem to get stuck in challenges instead of grow through them.

So what are some of those challenges along the learning path that can cause fear:

  • Confusion over what seems to come easy for everyone else
  • Inconsistent ability – some things seem easy and other things are very difficult
  • Poor grades
  • Difficulty focusing and managing time
  • Learning Disabilities

These challenges impact learning so dramatically and our mindset can dramatically change the outcome.  A fixed mindset says that if we are smart enough, we should know what is needed to be successful.  Therefore, if learning is difficult, we just are not smart enough.

A growth mindset would look at the challenges as the path forward for learning and growth.  It allows us to self-evaluate and build our skills through practice which INCLUDES failure.  It helps us to self advocate and learn from others rather than trying to hide our weaknesses.

I have learned so much from those who have come to the Joshua Institute for help.  Students who have come with a growth mindset have gained the skills they needed to do things they never thought they would be able to do.  The confidence comes from within which then unlocks so much potential they didn’t realize they ever had.  We know it is there.  Convincing them is the challenge and our great joy.  Showing each of them that God has a plan for them that includes growth THROUGH the difficulties, not in spite of them.

How about you?  Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset?  How you answer that question will impact your learning journey or the journey of someone you dearly love.

For more information, here are some links about growth mindset that may help you or your student:

Complete4Christ: https://compete4christ.co/2016/03/18/masters-of-mindset/

Cornerstone University: https://www.cornerstone.edu/blogs/lifelong-learning-matters/post/choosing-success-in-a-growth-vs-fixed-mindset

The Growth Mindset is Biblical: http://blogs.robs.org/ROBSNow/2017/04/10/growth-mindset-biblical/

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