Compare you to you

Growth mindset is the belief that all abilities are skills that can be strengthened through dedication and practice. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. Growth mindset also requires you to compare yourself to only yourself. Comparing your abilities to those of others is a dangerous game to play because your positioning is always relative. Let's say you play a high school sport, for example. If you compare yourself to a pro ball player, you may feel discouraged or that your abilities are lacking. Conversely, if you compared yourself to a 5-year old, you might have an inflated sense of your abilities. Developing a fair metric to track your skills and then employing a growth mindset allows you to measure progress relative to a past version of yourself. Might you still feel discouraged if you're not progressing at a rate that's satisfactory to you? Yes. It's not a failsafe for disappointment. But I'd argue that at that point you should examine how consistent your efforts have been, if you're practicing efficiently, and if your goals are realistic. As a child, I had a fixed mindset in most contexts, but especially with sports. I honestly believed that the kids who were the best athletes in kindergarten would remain the best throughout high school. I didn't see any value in practice. Not only did I not believe that I could improve with practice, I didn't believe I could surpass the "best" athletes by working hard. You can see why it's a bad idea to compare yourself with those around you. For me, it perpetuated a defeatist attitude and prevented progression in my various skill sets. I'm not saying you can't have a gold standard. It's okay to admire others or to to maybe say, "I'd like to be able to do ______ (skill) as well as _____ (person)", so long as their ability isn't the determinant for the perception of yourself as succeeding or failing. I think the Jordan Peterson quote from his book, "12 Rules for Life," sums this up well and is complimentary of the idea of growth mindset, which is why I made it the featured image for the post. The notion of competing with yourself was also the inspiration for my quote on our webpage - "true victory is self-victory" (Morihei Ueshiba) - and was passed along to me by my mentor, Ed Kardell, at my first school psychologist position. Ed was an avid aikido practitioner and this was a favorite quote of his. He and I had many discussions about the importance of comparing you to you. 

If comfortable, share with us whether you lean toward a fixed or growth mindset, in what context, and if successes you've had by employing a growth mindset. 

quote in my web page


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