Monday, March 30, 2020

“Mindset” by Carl S. Dweck. Something to Take Your Mind Off A Global Pandemic?

At the risk of stating the very obvious, the spread of COVID-19 is disrupting life as we know it. Businesses have been forced to shut their doors; families have retreated inside in fear for their loved ones; and daily life has changed dramatically. From college graduations to birthday parties and even funerals, the loss of human experience is profound, and raises bottomless questions. And while this pandemic will lead to serious consequences, from death to a potential economic recession, its impact, as with most things, will depend on an individual’s circumstances and personal resilience. It also has led to many new ways to connect and others being creative in our newly virtual world. 

Under usual circumstances, this is my favorite time of year. I get home from the office, immediately flip on the television and am greeted with the squeaking of shoes on hardcourt. Once March Madness concludes, I turn my attention to the speed, physicality, and intensity that only can be seen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; pausing only for the welcome interruption of the perfectly manicured landscape and soothing sounds of Magnolia Lane and the Masters Championship. Along with much of our daily lives, these events have either been cancelled or put on hold while our world tries to find some sense of normalcy in the face of COVID-19.

So, I have instead spent my time reading — cracking the covers of books that have collected dust on the bookshelf immediately below my television. 

The book that has held my attention most recently is “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck. Originally published in 2006, “Mindset” examines how every area of human endeavor, whether it be school, work, sports, or the arts can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. Dweck’s central thesis is as such: People with a fixed mindset (those who believe that their abilities or situations are fixed) are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset (those that believe that their abilities can be developed). Those with a growth mindset find success in doing their best, in learning, and improving. They find setbacks motivating and informative — they’re a wake-up call and a chance to learn. People with a growth mindset take charge of the process that brings success and seek to maintain it. 

Life often imitates sports, or vice versa — and in sports, we see the interplay between talent and mindset play out each year over the course of these few months. Superstars will their teams to victory, the bench player comes in and has a record-setting game, and an upstart team bands together to do the improbable. The same is true in entrepreneurship — founders will an idea into existence, start-ups take on much larger corporations, and failures turn into grand successes. As we continue to figure out this challenging time, let us hang on to this growth mindset — take this period of great setback and uncertainty to continue to learn and improve, and most importantly, help each other do the same. 

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