I have come across this line of thinking that says that we can either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. I enjoy the perspective it offers.
A fixed mindset is an approach to your life, creations, relationships where you see things as fixed. If everything is fixed, then it means that you view your capacity as set in stone. Your mistakes are much more personal, and you will probably avoid them since you see them as reflecting on you. It will be harder to learn from others since that makes them seem better than you. You will be frustrated by challenges since they point not at your potential to grow but at your inabilities.
A growth mindset is one that views everything as a work in progress. This allows you to be more open to failure since rather than it having a negative effect on your self-concept it simply is an opportunity to get even better. Challenges are an opportunity to grow your capacity and to see the extent of your potential. There is always room to grow, learn, expand etc.
There is a difference between thinking you are a failure at a project and assessing it to see your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities to grow and the risks that you need to manage next time. You can give up on working with people or reflect critically on the type of people who have been most fulfilling to you, how to nurture such connections, how to protect yourself, the boundaries you need. Same goes for your past decisions – the shortcomings of each can be cause for regret or better still an opportunity to truly internalize wisdom on how to integrate your experiences, critical thinking skills and emotions into decision making.
In reflecting on this in relation to myself, I have realized the sometimes irrational pressure I have put on myself to be perfect, regretting the failure of events rather than seeing the opportunity they afforded me to learn. I sometimes look back at drafts of things I have created, or how I have handled things in the past and feel embarrassed. Yet if the only way to my potential is growth and learning, perhaps I should be proud that I have grown so much instead.
My mistakes have been a very powerful learning tool for me, especially in the area of decision making and relationships whether personal or corporate. In dealing with people, I have learnt more about boundaries, and become more clear about my own values, my own vision and how to communicate this. My mistakes have helped me with discernment and have given me more intimacy with my intuition and hence more clarity in my communications. My failures have taught me alot about the opportunities and risks that each of my character traits offer and how to better manage myself. I have learnt more about working with people – how to communicate, understand personalities, protect myself, setting up the right incentives etc. I keep learning everyday.
It is a beautiful and freeing thing to see ourselves as works in progress. It releases us from the need to be perfect. It allows us to own our imperfection. We have less to protect, rather we can look back and see how far we have come and be proud. It allows us to embrace learning since we are more enthusiastic about who we could be on the other end, rather than protecting this fixed idea of who we are. Our mistakes also allow us to bond with and even impact others since there is that possibility for empathy. And of course, in situations where it is even more critical that we make informed decisions – on bigger platforms and when the stakes are higher- we can do better.
I am a Doctoral candidate who graduated at the age of 18 with a Bachelors in Honours Science and got a Masters in Science the following year at 19 years of age. Excited to share my best skills here with you:)