Referring to academic performance, you hear a lot of students saying things like: “I’m not good with numbers” or “I’m a slow learner”, or “I’m just an average student”, totally oblivious to the implication of what they are saying.
Such statements stem from what is called a Fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset suggests that your talents, intelligence, abilities, and potential are all fixed and thus not subject to change.
People with this mindset just take things as they are. They don’t try to change or improve, they don’t challenge themselves because they’ve already defined who they’re and believe that even if they try, they’ll fail.
The most dangerous thing about this is not in its obvious falsity, it is in its ability to stifle your performance and hinder your success over time.
When you believe there’s a subject or an area of study that you’re not good at, your natural inclination is to avoid them and barely try to get by. You’re willing to settle for the lowest grades as long as you don’t have to deal with them anymore.
This is definitely self-defeating and to some extent lazy.
Here’s the truth:
Your abilities, intelligence, and talents are not fixed at all no matter how old you get.
So many studies in the field of Neuroscience have proven the plasticity of our brain; its ability to be molded; to change, improve or depreciate depending on our beliefs, thoughts, habits, and actions.
Those with a Growth mindset understand this and use it to their greatest advantage. They know that no matter how poor they’re in a certain area, they can always improve with small persistent action.
They understand that their abilities are not carved in stone but subject to change all the time.
For Example, anytime you tell yourself, I’m not good with numbers”, you’re only giving yourself an excuse not to have good grades in your calculation courses.
The network of neurons that handles calculations in your brain might be weak at the moment, but if you’re determined to change that, you can.
The most important thing is, you really can.
Now, before you learn how you can rid yourself of this belief, first you need to understand its origin.
You picked up the idea somwhere along the line in your academic journey.
The culprit is usually results.
At a point you allowed a poor result to dictate who you are. At that instance, a little dot of belief formed in your heart about your abilities.
This belief dictates your subsequent performance until it becomes a giant dot at the center of your heart. It becomes your identity.
For you to change this belief, you have to understand that results are just that; result. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with your real abilities. So many factors, some totally out of your control must have come together to create that initial result. It’s a tragedy that you allowed it to define you.
In order to change this mindset, you need to take away your attention from results and focus on the process of building your skills and creating the type of change you want.
Except of course if you’re happy about being poor with numbers and having terrible results in calculation courses, which I’m inclined to doubt.
If you make it a habit every day to practice for just 15 minutes, here’s what happens: with each practice, you add a layer of thickness to those weak neurons in your brain. With time the network becomes as strong as the ones responsible for the subject you believe you’re best at.
But then, while you’re at it, you must forget about trying to be a person who scores well in calculation courses and instead focus on being the type of person who practices it regularly.
This might seem subtle, but it makes all the difference. Focusing on results makes you afraid of trying because you feel you’re going to fail anyway. It makes you easily give up if the results don’t meet up to your expectations.
Remember, it is focusing on results that created this mindset in the first place.
When you focus on the process of learning your calculations every single day without giving a damn about what your result might be, beautiful things happen.
You do not just become good with numbers, you start to identify yourself as a person who practices it. It becomes a habit, and you start to enjoy the process. In a short time, the results become everything you’ve ever wanted.
Focusing on building this form of identity-based habits is the surest way to change inhibiting Fixed mindsets to Growth mindsets.
The transformations will be eminent not just in your academics, but your life in general.