The one word that changed my whole outlook
Both as a teacher and a team lead, I spent a lot of time helping other people develop a growth mindset - but I always struggled to walk the talk. If something did not work on first try or did not come easy, I took this to mean that I wasn’t good at it and probably never would be. It did not properly sink in that you are bad at most things until you eventually become reasonably good at them. Baby Steph did not one day get up to walk a mile with her hands in her pockets and a jaunty whistle on her lips. She spent months just developing the strength to keep her head up. She crawled around tirelessly and ruined a tablecloth or five trying to get upright. She fell down and got up again. Once she fell into a duck pond. Bet the ducks were not impressed. But then there is young Steph, staying upright most of the time, trusting her legs to carry her where she needs to go. It might not be the most graceful gait, but it gets the job done.
Fast forward to now so I can stop talking about myself in the third person. Still not walking all that gracefully, but not really concerned as long as I don’t overlook a curb and fall flat on my face [which can totally happen if you’re distracted by a gang of morbidly obese squirrels approaching you in formation… welcome to London, everyone]. What I realise now that I did not fully comprehend before is: it’s not supposed to be easy. Most of the changes we get frustrated with are inherently complex. You don’t ditch your people-pleasing tendencies overnight, they did serve you at some point. You aren’t assertive in your communication ALL the time, sometimes you can’t muster the energy. You don’t catch every unhelpful, harsh thought before it gets a chance to put a dent in your mood. But that doesn’t mean that your efforts are in vain or not worth it. So how do you keep practising the new skills despite slipping up now and then?
There is one word that I use like a magic wand whenever my brain broadcasts a super definitive thought like “I cannot do a website”. And that one word is: yet. I am not the person I want to be… yet. I am not as fit as I could be… yet. I haven’t got things figured out… yet. But I have the tools to get there. I know my values and that makes it easier to live a life that is aligned to them [also makes it easier to say HELL NO to the things that go against my values. And triple-chocolate brownies.]. I know what to do when intrusive thoughts hit me. What’s more important though: I don’t just know. I do. Whoever said that knowing is half of the battle [was that G.I. Joe?] probably never walked out of a hairdresser’s having said yes to a trim when they had a perfectly good picture of their desired cut on their phone.
I will write about what got me from knowing to doing in my next post. If you are struggling with a fixed mindset like I did or if you already know what you need to do and are just not doing it, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or schedule an intro session here.