On an early 4 am morning with the world home-quarantined, I was up drinking coffee and scrolling through my Goodreads when I stumbled upon a quote, one of my friends had shared:
"The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” Friedrich Nietzsche
It made me wonder about the importance of change yet question the ability of humans to bring out the same. With the extroverts now being forced to sit within the four walls of their home, my heart goes out to the social butterflies who currently are struggling to water the gardens within their household. Not to forget the introverts (represent!) who have now realized that home quarantine is their lifestyle yet even though they should feel at home, they are caged within the walls of their mind whilst trying to find some space within this 'solace'.
I do understand that change is difficult yet change is inevitable. But if there is something I'd want to introduce to you folks is the power of nourishing a growth mindset. I believe it is the need of the hour and an impactful way of living life to the fullest.
What if I told you that with the right strategy and efforts, you can get better at anything!
This simple yet powerful idea is what the world is beginning to know as the Growth Mindset.
Growth Mindset is changing the way people learn, about themselves and the world.
In case I haven't lost you till now, let's get right into it.
Carol Dweck, Ph.D., the best selling author of "Mindset" (the book has sold over a million copies) and a professor of psychology at Stanford University has been studying the reason why some people succeed and other people with the same talent, do not. What she discovered is that the difference lies in their mindset.
Simply put, a Growth Mindset believes that talent and intelligence are not a gift but something you earn. This mindset has been increasingly adopted in sports and is now seeing a lot of traction from the likes of the corporate workforce especially the Fortune 500s' of the world.
This brings us to classifying the human mindset into a fixed mindset v/s a growth mindset.
From telling yourself that 'you are not naturally adept to doing X' to becoming good at something because you believed in your ability to make it happen;
From not believing in your talent to knowing you can achieve things when you put in the work;
From knowing that skills aren't born but built;
From shifting focus from results which will make your look good to the process of getting better;
From can't to can;
Isn't it time for you to change your core belief?
From a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
I firmly believe with the times we're in, the question at play isn't about if, but when.
Let me showcase some proof of concept for advocating this idea well to you.
With the hypothesis, can you really grow your brain, I'd skip my inner geek about the human brain and mind and present to you 3 suggestive cases, as follows;
Case 1: Growing your brain
Who could describe it better than those black and yellow cabs plying the streets of London and their cabbies, screaming - The more demand you put on your brain, the more the brain grows!
A 5 year-long study on studying the effect of learning, "The Knowledge" by London taxi drivers led the researchers to conclude that the human brain is plastic and when required, it does grow. In this case, the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped section of the brain responsible for spatial navigation and long term memory ballooned to either grow new neurons and/or improved connections within the existing ones. For you curious lot, "The Knowledge" is a series of exams unique to the London taxi licensing system centered around memorizing the ins and outs of London inclusive of a minimum of 25,000 streets and thousands of hotspots and tourist locales. The candidates, however, have a time frame of 3 to 4 years to earn this license with less than 50% of the potential lot actually making it.
It makes me wonder whether Google Maps has made our lives easier or paralyzed our brains.
Case 2: Speeding up your brain
Allow me to introduce you to a concept called, Brain Plasticity wherein it is believed that you can change the workings of your brain anytime you want regardless of your age, gender, race, color, and culture. This phenomenon is the reason why people are able to break off their bad habits or maybe even acquire some of those, unknowingly. In case you're interested to read the Stanford research of it, refer to the links below, otherwise the idea is simple - whenever we make decisions, the neurons fire off impulses across themselves which strengthens the layer surrounding them (myelin sheath) leading to solidification of the decision. You do it over a period of time (isn't 21 days the pop norm?), and viola! you have a habit. It is that simple.
In the times of COVID-19, where everyone is talking about humanity coming together, it would be a shame if I didn't post a brain reference on those lines.
Neurons that fire together, wire together.
Be careful about the choices that you are making for they are becoming decisions which this Myelin layer inside your brain is feeding off - to fuel its growth and fulfill its role of making the brain efficient. Ain't it high time to order an improved brain, then.
Case 3: Rewiring your brain
So there's this badass neuroscientist, Gary Marcus who confronts the idea that talent is a myth and actually proves it right by learning how to play guitar by executing the '10,000 hours' and ends up writing a book about it all. (what!)
He also delves into the meaning of a 'well-lived life' and whether reaching the end of the process should be the goal or the process itself? I think I should not explore this lest I drown in the philosophy of it. :P
With proper research in place, the concept of Growth Mindset isn't to be doubted. If you ask me, the motto of The Growth Mindset would be,
'The power of "Not Yet"; starting small but aiming big'.
In times of us being holed up in our homes, it would be the mark of a wise man to give themselves one chance at turning their lives around.
That is all it takes, to start turning your life around for good. This mindset should ideally be the foundation of which you stack your life values, goals and ambitions and be confident to assume that you won't be disappointed. I sure haven't been. :)
Start implementing the growth mindset into one realm of your world and then extend it to others. It could be your evening sports, morning workout, college classes, 9-6 work or maybe your relationships. You just have to take the first step. Trust me, it is a beautiful world, out here.
I am way too deep in this journey of exploring my growth mindset and upskilling it, one day at a time. Will you join in too?
1. Dr. Carol Dweck's TED Talk
3. Cool YT videos:
b. Growth Mindset Introduction: What it is, How it Works, and Why it Matters by Trevor Ragan
4.a The Bigger Brains of London Taxi Drivers: National Geographic (normal ver.)
4.b Cache Cab: Taxi Drivers' Brains Grow to Navigate London's Streets: Scientific American (geek ver.)
5. Neural activity promotes brain plasticity through myelin growth: Stanford Med. (geek ver.)
6. Guitar Zero: A Neuroscientist Debunks the Myth of “Music Instinct” and Learns to Play: Brainpickings (normal ver.)