Life Lessons

Old Dog, Meet New Tricks: The Joy in Learning Something New

It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

Carol Dweck has done some fascinating work on mindset – whether we see ourselves and our abilities as fixed or growing – and what that predicts about our tenacity and overall prospects. It’s compelling stuff, and it turns out that I’ve been thinking about myself all wrong.

I have always been grateful to be blessed with some appreciable smarts. But, if I’m honest with myself, while curious, I haven’t always felt much compulsion to keep building upon what good fortune gave me. Once a moderately successful student, I haven’t sustained a rigorous course of continuing education and skill building outside the School of Hard Knocks and Real Life.

In Dweck’s lexicon, I’ve had a fixed mindset.

This, it turns out, is not to my advantage.

Dweck has also looked at the power of “yet” – the transformative influence of believing that something that isn’t true now might be true in the future. That, rather than saying I’m not good at that, we might say I’m not good at that yet – and open the door to the possibility of new skills and adventures.

Reframe: I haven’t had a growth mindset yet.

No time like the present to do something about that. If all this free time and flexibility doesn’t demand mixing things up, I don’t know what does.

This, it turns out, is much more fun.  

Embracing a growth mindset has enabled me to belly up unselfconsciously to a smorgasbord of things I don’t know yet. So this week I…

  • got my supplies for a watercolor workshop with an artist whose work I really admire
  • enrolled in a Coursera class on Model Thinking that explains the theory underlying much of the change management work I’ve been doing for 20 years
  • joined a community of reflection to build my mindfulness skills.

Three days in and I can feel the excitement of discovery. I feel awakened and energized. No one with whom I’ve spoken in the last few days has been spared receipt of links to related web sites or nuggets of recently-acquired wisdom. I want to share the knowledge, the thrill. It’s a giddy feeling. I’m rather tickled with myself.

Old dog, feeling frisky.

Clancy the Wonder Dog

Life Lesson #13: Never too old…

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