Friday, May 13, 2016

English. Examine what makes you anxious.

Examine what makes you anxious.

This cat is inspired by remarks I read in Carol Dweck Says Theory of Educational Mind-Set Is Often Misunderstood by Goldie Blumenstyk, an interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education. See more at the Chronicle site  (subscription required) or at the Soundcloud podcast. For more cats inspired by Carol Dweck's writings and talks, see the Dweck Collection.

In this discussion of triggers that make you start operating with a fixed mindset, Carol Dweck proposes the idea that you can "personify" your fixed-mindset tendencies, giving them a name so you can interact with that aspect of yourself:
A colleague of mine in Australia named Susan Mackie identifies this idea of finding your mind-set triggers. First of all, to say we’re all a mixture. Anyway, who says, "I’ve always had a growth mind-set. I have a total growth mind-set. I have a growth mind-set all the time."? False. We’re all a mixture. We all have triggers, things that put us into more of fixed mind-set and make us anxious about our abilities or worried about struggling. It could be a certain area, but it could be whenever we have setbacks. Many people have episodes. Identify those triggers. Start noticing how you feel, and think when your fixed mind-set is triggered. 
Then Susan Mackie said -- and I saw her working with banking executives doing this -- "give your fixed mind-set persona a name." I heard a banking executive say, "Yeah, when I’m in a crunch. I have a deadline. Dwayne shows up." This is what Dwayne does, and how Dwayne makes me feel. This is how Dwayne effects people around me. Then the final step is talk to Dwayne. Get Dwayne on board with your growth-mind-set goals. Don’t try to get rid of Dwayne. Don’t disrespect him, but whatever you name your fixed-mind-set persona, say, "Thank you for your input." Or, "I appreciate your contribution, but why don’t we try it this way? Why don’t we take on that challenge?" There’s a setback, Dwayne comes rushing back, laughing at you. You say, "OK, that’s one way to look at it, but I think I learned something from that setback. What if we try this other strategy? Dwayne, you think you can bear with me on that?"
Help your "inner Dwayne" to grow! I think I will call my fixed-mindset self by the name of... Alice. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Alice learns how to confront her fears and grow (literally grow, in fact!) during her adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, but sometimes she gets stuck in her thinking too. I will talk to myself as Alice when I get stuck in my own fixed mindset!

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