One of the books on my summer reading list is the currently popular self-help book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. I'm not usually in the habit of reading this type of book, but Dweck's credentials are impeccable as an educational psychology out of Stanford, and ...the book was assigned, I mean agreed upon for a small group of educators I'm currently working with...In other words, I gotta read it and be prepared to discuss its application to current pedagogy.
The thesis of Mindset is simply that the way we approach a task often determines how successful we will become. An open or closed mind might be another way t think about this. Dweck offers numerous examples from the world of sports to the academic universe to support this idea. The book is, in fact, quite repetitious.
Is this idea new? Not really, but it does force us to think about the mental attitude we bring to everything from daily tasks to life changing decisions. She highlights the "growth mindset" as the preferable point of view. Hard to argue with that. We see daily how people who approach a tak or a major life decision with their mind made up will ultimately fulfill that prophecy.
So I've been thinking how this applies to the life I've lived so far.
What resonated first was the writing group I recently spent a few years attending. Those writers, myself included, who were able to view severe criticism as a growth opportunity rather than take a defensive stance, ultimately achieve more success. They welcome the opportunity to grow and learn rather than simply shut down and convince themselves that people just don't understand what they are trying to say. As one of my writing buddies likes to say, "If one person doesn't understand something I've written, then potentially thousands of others might not either."
Last week I realized that I have been learning to open my mindset while learning the craft and skill of fly fishing.
I've always been a bit impatient so one of the things that first attracted me to the skills necessary to be successful at this finesse sport was the opportunity to slow down and be in the moment. The Zen of fly fishing is well documented. It's about being there, being in the beautiful settings of lakes and streams. Everything else will follow. But the frustration of not catching fish or wondering what you're doing wrong or the difficulty of casting, getting hung up on low hanging branches or unseen tree stumps...you get the picture. With time and experience came patience and acceptance that every day is different. Every moment could be the one that yields the prize. In recent years that's been the case as I sought to validate my skill by catching and releasing (and fooling) fish that are more difficult to catch. The frustration of seeing others do what I wanted to do has yielded to my own success. But always, with little or no expectation. And always, without knowing when.