I woke up this morning fighting with myself, because my body has decided that since we returned from the Southern Hemisphere (almost two weeks now), we are going to wake up around 5am. I shut my eyes hoping for one more hour, but my mind was already set on it’s mission for the day. I still fought it, but finally resorted to what I know was the doom of anymore sleep: pressed the home button on my iPhone 6. I finally scrolled through ALL the memes and posts about how Sunday night sucks and Monday morning sucks even more. At this point, my mind was already in a state of processing, thinking and planning how to utilize this 5am wake up and write before I go to work. I am a morning person and I fail to accept and cherish that. It is so not the cool thing to do when you just can’t “sleep in”. So the first thing I do is reflect on this concept of mindset. I was having a conversation with myself on why I can’t just accept the fact that I am an early bird. I’ve been waking up early all my life, but now its two hours before that original time. That’s two hours of productivity in the mornings rather than the evenings. Nothing wrong with this. This train of thought takes me directly to a book I read by Carol Dweck who I was introduced to by my principal. Dweck, in her book called Mindset, argues that the power of a “growth” mindset can positively permeate in one’s life in different arenas such as school, work, relationships, etc. On the other hand, if you are of a fixed mindset, growth and evolution, is very difficult to embrace. While my purpose is not to give a book review, I do want to talk about how my experience with this book unfolded.
It is important to mention that my last year in Barcelona, a principal from Texas was hired at the international school I was working at. He came with great intentions and plans, but he did not take the time to slowly take in the culture of the school and staff with sensitive consideration. His intentions of reforming things and reforming them fast did not work quite well with the staff working “under” him. My relationship with him was cordial and professional, but one that was not natural and symbiotic, like it was with my old administration and all of my colleagues. One day in the Spring, the staff received an email about a book club he was organizing. To everyone’s surprise, I joined the club (and four others). I thought this was a good venue and opportunity to talk about fixed mindsets, especially mine and his own, without any professional repercussions. We are all plagued with things that we know how to do, like to do, are good in doing. However, the challenge presents itself in the things that are unfamiliar, foreign and quite frankly difficult. We did not need an award winning psychologist Carol Dweck to solidify that for an experienced teaching staff. However, sitting down as a professional community and hashing that out was important. It was during this book club where I realized that my career at the school no longer was progressing, especially under a leadership where my organizational philosophy no longer coincided with the schools. I also realized that the very person who thought a growth mindset needed to be fostered at the community, was in need of that himself, and was willing and open to it. Whereas I never appreciated his leadership, I do appreciate the opportunity I was given to realize that even though I considered myself one who possessed a growth mindset, in many aspects of my life, I was quite fixed and was not permitting myself MY full potential. Quite frankly, according to Dweck I was a growth mindset driven educator and I believed that every child needs to first be taught the power of mindset before any productive learning can occur. If you are an educator or interested in learning about how to use this in your classroom check out David Hochheiser’s piece in Edutopia about the philosophy and application.
There were many variables in my move back to Los Angeles, CA after living abroad for six years and clearly it was not just my career. However, on this Monday I reflect and urge you to think about what serves YOU and what does not. Does our fixed mindset prevent us from doing what we are destined to do? How can I foster a growth mindset in my professional life? In my relationship? As I don’t sit around for once and mope here that I woke up at 5am and that in fact, it is a Monday, I urge you to think about why we we are in the fixed mindset of doing just that week after week? I’ll end this with the first search that came up on google when I typed in “The Power of Mindset”. It is something I extracted from a blog by Jon Gordon. He starts by saying, “It’s easy to be positive when everything in life is going great. The hard part is staying positive when life kicks you down and knocks you around.”
I will end by saying this: embrace it when life kicks you down and knocks you around, but learn the lesson that comes from it and move forward. You will become a stronger person.