When do you feel smart?

I recently read a book on Mindsets by Carol Dweck and would like to share some thoughts. So when do you feel smart? When you are regularly succeeding, doing things easily and flawlessly, not making any mistakes and everything you do is perfect and you do faster than others. OR

You feel smart when you feel that what you are doing is really hard, something you never did before, it is challenging and makes you stretch, it is not about immediate perfection, it’s about learning something new each time, confronting challenges and making incremental progress

These are two different mindsets: Fixed mindset and Growth mindset

In the fixed mindset – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Constantly validating yourself!

Whereas in the world of growth mindset or changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new each day. Developing yourself incrementally!

In the fixed mindset ‘effort’ is bad and is required only if you are not smart or talented, whereas in the growth mindset, ‘effort is what makes you smart’.

Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, once said, “I don’t divide the world into weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, the rich and the poor….. I divide the world into learners and non-learners’.

If you are only going to go through life doing stuff that’s easy, then shame on you!

So the people with a growth mindset understand that abilities can be developed, they like being stretched and challenged, love the thrill of discovery and look at failure as a learning experience.
But people with a fixed mindset in the face of failure feel tragically devastated, call the experience catastrophic. From their more fixed mindset perspective, their intelligence is up for judgment. Instead of luxuriating in the power of experience, they are gripped in the tyranny of validation.
Our education system has long focused on praising and adulating talent and intelligence – and it has failed miserably because it has focused on teaching children that success is being more gifted than others, and that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent.
However, recent research on growth mindset by Carol Dweck has changed the definition of success as being your best self and not about being better than others, failure is an opportunity, not a condemnation; and that effort is the key to success.
Raise your hand if would you like to win a lottery, keep your hand raised if in the past month you actually bought a lottery ticket!

You don’t need a psychologist to tell you why you didn’t buy those tickets, you didn’t expect to win and given the odds of winning a lottery that might seem like a reasonable conclusion. But what’s important to learn here is that you act based on what you expect not what you want.

What you want and what you expect are completely different. Expectation is a belief about whether or not you’re going to get what you want. Expectation plus action equals creation of your life experiences.

How many times we hear people say, ‘I want to change my life but I don’t really believe that I can’ and because they didn’t think they could get what they want, they are not even willing to try. When you don’t act on what you want you take yourself out of the game, in other words you create the self-fulfilling prophecy!

The reason that our expectations can keep us so ‘stuck’ is because we have an automatic tendency to use the past to predict the future, but, if you are aware of what your expectations are in a situation then you have the ability to use your conscious mind to override the automatic thinking and plan for how to create a different outcome and our expectations about our ability to get what we want change.

A large part of our brain is dedicated to anticipating rewards, rewards to put it simply are all the things you want that make life worth living.

J.R. Tolkien said, “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” When you expect to get a reward you feel positive emotions like happiness and joy when you don’t think you’re going to get what you want you feel sadness, disappointment maybe even depression. The larger the gap between what you expect and what you want the more distress you feel. So I would like to share three simple steps of reducing this gap:

Step number one: ask yourself how is what i’m expecting making me feel?

If you’re expecting something positive to happen and you’re going to be feeling really good about it then you can stop right there, no need to fix positive emotions but if you’re expecting something you don’t want then you’re going to be feeling a negative emotion like anxiety, fear, dread, overwhelmed, those are all signs that you have some negative expectations about that situation

Step number two: ask yourself what would I like to have happen instead?
With this question you identify what you really do want in the situation, what you want is oftentimes the very thing that you’re not expecting, remember you want to win the lottery but you don’t expect to

Step number three: ask yourself what do I need to do to make what I want happen?
When you have a negative expectation about a future event, it’s because you’re focused on all the things that could go wrong, why it’s not going to work out for you. You’re not generating thoughts and ideas about how to make it go right

When you see a plan laid out in front of you for how to get what you want, your assessment of the situation starts to change – you begin to see the possibility, this is where the shift happens, every successful action that you take towards that plan starts to change your expectations.

Changing your expectations can significantly improve your life when you’re motivated by what you want – Nothing ventured, nothing gained

In the words of Henry Ford ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right’, your past isn’t what defines who you are or where you’re going it’s your expectations of the future that limit you most, so here’s the good news:

You can choose! You can choose to take action based on what you want and when you do that you give yourself the opportunity to step out of the past and create the life you truly want to live.

About the author: fazlsiddiqui@gmail.com

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