July 30, 2009 Leave a comment

There seems to be no doubt that we have to shift our understanding of the problems that confront us, not just so that we understand what they require as solutions in the traditional sense, but so that we can comprehend what they require of us.

Psychologist Carol Dweck’s work shows that many of us have been educated to have what she calls a “fixed mindset,” one that can become concerned first and foremost with our own standing and status.  She goes on to show how this is a sure fire recipe for disaster with respect to long-term results, whether one is a professional athlete, a CEO, a teacher, or a parent.  If one is considering sustainable (and shared) benefit, then it behooves us to embrace a “growth mindset,” one that entails the ability, humility, and enthusiasm to learn from our mistakes and to help others to do so as well.

That is one of my biggest take-aways from being in DC last week.  So many people are caught up in the game that plays out inside the Beltway where you have to make a name for yourself in order to have an impact.  Fixed mindsets rein.  But just when are you done proving yourself in such an environment?  And what impact do we cheat ourselves of under such conditions in the long run?

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  • Melinda says:

    Thanks Curtis. This statement in the video stands out to me as worthy of further teasing out: “Problems arent negative…they are signs that our way of thinking needs to broaden, and we need to reorient ourselves to the world in which we live”.
    So then, if the stakes are as high as purported, than this is very serious business linked to our survival and sustainability as a ________ [fill in the blank: individual, family, organization, nation, field, globe, etc.]. I start to think about the inhibitors, barriers, stumblingblocks that keep us from fostering the “ability, humility, and enthusiasm to learn from our mistakes and to help others to do so as well”. I want to find them, name them, expose them, deconstruct them and begin the process of reorientation — and quickly. Im not sure that I have the courage to back it up, but Im sure that I am frustrated enough and tired of repeating the same old mistakes, arguments, strategies (and expecting different results) that I want to at least search for, re-search, and identify whats in the way of what is needed (mind-shift?) to get to the other side of this conundrum — whether in the personal, organizational, cultural, systemic realms of my world. I (we) need a break. I (we) need a breakthrough so the we can break out of the status quo and break forth to re-build. Thanks for raising our consciousness about how our consciousness is likely part of the…problem. :-O

  • Curtis says:

    Great question, Melinda, about the inhibitors, barriers, and stumbling blocks. They seem pretty deeply rooted and require persistent effort, focus, and discipline to root out. The first step seems to be that to a certain extent we sit in a box of our own creation. Then it seems worthwhile to really get psyched about learning and improving, not because our individual reputations are on the line, but because this bigger body of which we are a part (family, community, nation, planet) is at risk. How can the tools we teach become transformative, as opposed to being co-opted by outmoded paradigms and mindsets? How can we hold one another accountable for not falling asleep at the wheel?

  • Melinda says:

    In answer to your last question in particular, I think one way is to continually have a stream of interaction with and among diverse and new people, thinking, perspectives, to draw from that informs and re-forms us, our work, our approaches, etc. There’s something about the Margin v,. Center/status quo v. newbies/Uppers & Downers dynamic that is a safeguard against falling asleep at the wheel…and against using tools to co-opt v to transform. Interesting thought about tools invoked by your penultimate question here. I hear the echoes of Audre Lourde who warned, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. Hmmm….

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