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by Debbie Widmer, Family and Friends Coordinator

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and it’s not over yet. First was preschool graduation, with those adorable children in miniature caps and gowns waving their hands, unashamedly, at their parents. Next came eighth-grade graduation a week later. These young people tried out their adult looks—awkwardly child-like one moment and boldly confident the next. Today was an academy graduation. These graduates are on the brink of adulthood, making adult decisions about their futures.

Graduation speakers use a plethora of quotable quotes and stories of success to encourage young minds to seek, learn, and grow. However, today we heard an interesting concept that caught my attention, as well. The well-loved English teacher reviewed Carol Dweck’s simple idea that makes an incredible life difference. This world-renowned Stanford University psychologist wrote the book, Mindset. In it, she talks about two different thought patterns and what they mean for us.

In the fixed mindset, people believe that their basic qualities (intelligence and talent) are simply fixed traits. They document these traits but don’t develop them. They think that talent alone creates success—without effort. The tendency, then, is to worry about these traits and how adequate they are. They have to prove themselves over and over again.

On the other hand, those who have a growth mindset believe that these basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Intelligence and talents are just the starting point. This mindset creates a love of learning and resilience, which is essential for great accomplishment. Accomplishment doesn’t happen without years of passionate practice and learning. Having a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity. It enhances relationships.

Scientists are learning that people have more capacity for life-long learning and brain development than they ever thought. Everyone can change and grow through application and experience. The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This allows folks to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

What does this mean for us? Sometimes it is much easier to have a fixed mindset. I can blame where I am on the fixed nature of my traits. But, relationships suffer. Having a growth mindset means that I will spend time learning, changing and growing, instead of continuing to prove myself over and over.

Peter knew that growth is a continual process. 2 Peter 1:5-9 says, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”

It takes diligence and passionate practice to grow to love. Love is not naturally within us. As we listen to people’s stories, as we passionately educate ourselves, and as we practice acts of love, we find ourselves growing, becoming people of love. The hallmark of a growth mindset is the ability to stretch and stick with it, even when it’s not easy. For us, having a child come out as transgender has tested us. Would we have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? We have chosen to have a growth mindset so that we might become God’s hands and feet in the here and now. How about you? May you always live on the growing edge God has for you.

Debbie Widmer
Family and Friends Coordinator

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