I had an 'A-ha' moment and it wasn't very pretty

Feb 04, 2020

I had an “A-ha” moment this week. 

Okay, it was more like an “I can’t believe I do that” moment. 

Let me explain. 

I am a Business Coach and a certified Life Coach.  I pride myself in knowing how our brains work.

Here's the problem, sometimes my own brain trips me up.

I hate it when that happens.

When I had my “A-ha,” I got curious.  I wanted to know why I was doing this. My curiosity led me to Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.

Let me explain.

In her book, Dweck writes about her research on Fixed vs. Growth Mindset and how people use these in their life.

Fixed Mindset is a belief that your qualities are set in stone.  Your intelligence, your personality, your moral character. 

Whereas, Growth Mindset is a belief that your basic qualities are things that can be cultivated through your efforts, your strategies and help from others.

Let me give you an example, IQ test results.  Most people would agree that your IQ is set in stone.  But is it?

Let’s say, two people take an IQ test and receive the same “average’ IQ results.  One person operates with a fixed mindset, the other a growth mindset.

The person with a fixed mindset may tell themselves, “Well, that’s that.  I guess I am always just going to be average.”  Whereas, the person with a growth mindset may tell themselves, “That’s interesting.  I wonder how I can raise that score a couple of points.  I love a good challenge!”

Can you see how these thoughts may give each of them different results in their life?

As a coach, this is the work I do with my clients.

I show them their brain, which is usually thinking thoughts that are keeping them in a fixed mindset.  I then offer another perspective (new thoughts) from a growth mindset view.

For myself, when I think about these two types of mindsets, I usually think of them in terms of my big goals, like building a wildly successful business.  I know, for me to be successful, I need to operate with a growth mindset.  I know that I need to embrace discomfort because ‘discomfort is the currency to my dreams.”

It makes total sense. 

But let’s get back to my “A-ha” moment.

I noticed I was stuck in a fixed mindset.  But it wasn’t obvious to me.  It was SUPER subtle.  

Here’s the thing - There are things that I am naturally good at.  Things that do not take much effort, but my results are usually pretty good.  One may even say ‘really good.’  I don’t say that to brag. 

This is true for all of us.

What I noticed is in these areas that I excel, I don’t push myself to get better.  I accept it as ‘good enough.’

Dweck has a quote in her book that hit me right between the eye.

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”

OUCH.

This “A-ha” reared its ugly head when I was working with my coach.  I told her (with pride) that I could just ‘wing things.’    

I recapped my recent experience in teaching a class.   I told her (again with pride) I didn’t spend any time preparing.  A few minutes before class, I jotted a couple of points that I wanted to teach, and then I went for it.  The class was good.  Not amazing but ‘good enough.’ 

She asked me, “How is that helping you grow?”

OUCH.  (Why does she keep asking hard questions?)

“Um, it’s not.”

I realized that I was stuck in a fixed mindset in areas that I excel in.  I don’t really make an effort.  And that isn’t helping me grow.

Can you relate to this?

Are there areas in your life you are just accepting as good enough?

My guess is yes.

I challenge you to look at your mindset – your thoughts – in areas of life you consider yourself to be good. When I did this, examples popped up like crazy.

Caution: This is not an excuse to beat yourself up.  (Your brain is going to want to do that).  Be compassionate and curious.

Look for areas that this might be showing up for you and then ask yourself, “Am I keeping myself from growing?”

If your answer is yes, then ask yourself if you are okay with that. You might be 100% okay with it.  And that is totally fine.  You do you.

But if you answer that you are not okay with it, ask yourself what you can do differently to help you grow.

What can you do differently to be better than good?

This past week, I taught again, and you guessed it, I prepared, practiced ahead of time, and did better than ‘good enough.’

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