Commit to lifelong learning and develop a growth mindset
Your commitment to lifelong learning by developing a growth mindset is one of the 12 strategies involved to leverage your mind, body, and spirit in order to navigate the chaos of life and translate one dream after another into reality. The 12 strategies are divided into three categories: mind, body, and spirit with 4 strategies per category.
The following 10 tactics are available for anyone interested in dedicating themselves to a life of learning and a mind open to continual development. The 10 tactics answer the question ‘what can I do to engage in lifelong learning and develop my growth mindset?’
The tactics are derived from the Navigate the Chaos blog series consisting of a different questions and post for each day of the year. The entire series of questions and blog posts is free and located at https://www.navigatethechaos.com/.
Clear hurdles you set for yourself
Allow yourself to be a work in progress
Remain open to change
Intentionally experience disruption
Redefine your definition of success
Create a vision
Highlight your imperfections
Value the ordinary
CLEAR HURDLES YOU SET FOR YOURSELF
Instead of clearing hurdles others created, Robert S. Kaplan of the Harvard Business School concluded “fulfillment doesn’t come from clearing hurdles others set for you; it comes from clearing those you set for yourself.” Despite their achievements and high level of success, Kaplan found many ambitious individuals lacked a true sense of professional satisfaction and fulfillment. He met many “impressive executives who expressed deep frustration with their careers, who, upon reflection, felt as though they should have achieved more or even wished that they had chosen a different career altogether.” To set hurdles for yourself you have many options but maintaining a sense of wonder and making a long-term commitment to training are two available to anyone willing to put in the time. On maintaining a sense of wonder Stanford Professor Jennifer Aaker noted “When you feel awe, you are experiencing a positive emotion that feels vast and big, and as a result is capable of altering one’s view of the world.” For those interested in making a long-term commitment to training, author Carol Dweck found through her research that people have either a fixed theory of intelligence based on innate ability or an incremental theory of intelligence based on continually learning something new.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE A WORK IN PROGRESS
Allowing yourself to be a work in progress is a critical strategy for anyone committed to lifelong learning and developing a growth mindset. Reid Hoffman mentions this strategy in his book The Start-Up of You when he wrote "we are all works in progress. Each day presents an opportunity to learn more, do more, be more, grow more in our lives and careers. Keeping your career in permanent beta forces you to acknowledge that you have bugs that there is new development to do on yourself that you will need to adapt and evolve." Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh made a similar observation in the 19th century. In an 1885 letter to painter Anthon van Rappard, van Gogh described his commitment to being a work in progress when he noted “I keep on making what I can’t do yet in order to learn to be able to do it.” Greek American long-distance runner Alexi Pappas echoed a similar sentiment when she said: “I have embraced my own growth every year and allowed myself to outgrow my shoes.” By outgrowing her shoes, Pappas gave herself permission to be a work in progress and practiced developing her growth mindset over the long-term.
REMAIN OPEN TO CHANGE
Remaining open to change is synonymous with maintaining a commitment to lifelong learning and developing a growth mindset. In Buddhism Without Beliefs Stephen Batchelor emphasized the need to remain open to change when he wrote “Who you are is an unfolding narrative. You came from nothing and will return there eventually. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously all the time, we can discover the playful irony of a story that has never been told in quite this way before.” If you find new ideas playful and alter yourself to meet difficulties, you can practice remaining open to change. American journalist H. L. Mencken noted just how rare it is for people to play with new ideas, however, and said, “The human race is divided into two sharply differentiated classes – a small minority that plays with ideas and is capable of taking them in and a vast majority that finds them painful.” The ability to process a new idea is available to anyone willing to practice such an important trait; especially those who are facing a difficulty. As British novelist and short story writer Phyllis Bottome wrote “There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them.”
INTENTIONALLY EXPERIENCE DISRUPTION
Any commitment to lifelong learning and the development of a growth mindset is invariably going to experience disruption. As you navigate the chaos and translate one dream after another into reality, disruption is going to be a constant. Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky discussed the significance of experiencing disruption when he wrote “Times of crisis, of disruption or constructive change, are not only predicable, but desirable. They mean growth. Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” While experiencing disruption it is helpful to remind yourself you can be afraid of something yet do it anyway. Actor Carrie Fisher practiced this trait and noted "Stay afraid but do it anyway. What is important is the action. You do not have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow." As you experience disruption and work through it being afraid, realize doing so will empower you to redefine your destiny when necessary. As philosopher John Kaag, wrote in his 2018 book Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are “The self does not lie passively in wait for us to discover it. Selfhood is made in the active, ongoing process, in the German verb, werden, ‘to become.’”
REDEFINE YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
When you make a commitment to lifelong learning you will more than likely redefine your definition of success. Please understand that defining success is deeply personal and should be evaluated throughout your life as you achieve personal and professional success. Writer Laura Garnett noted that “too many people unconsciously buy into the definition of success that society tells us, which is frequently associated with power, money, and material items. But success is a very personal thing. What drives one person can vary drastically from another.” To reconcile the different definitions of success people have you have the option to reflect upon the paradox of life. In 1916 T.S. Eliot argued “every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that is somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.” To be who you want to be you must first reject who you are. If you who are is no longer who you wish to be you then reflect upon the price you are willing to pay. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden noted “Understand there is a price to be paid for achieving anything of significance. You must be willing to pay the price.”
CREATE A VISION
Creating a vision that is updated frequently is characteristic of those who commit to lifelong learning and develop a growth mindset. People who navigate the chaos know they must constantly work on creating a vision for both their personal growth and professional development. As the adage reads “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.” Developing, revising, and enhancing your vision, however, can often involve painful emotions as a result of life’s events. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a personal health crisis all illustrate painful life situations akin to a storm to process. Japanese author Haruki Murakami wrote “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” For those developing a growth mindset, they position themselves to come out of each storm with as much energy as possible. One way they do that is to avoid argumentative people in order to stay focused on winning as opposed to winning an argument. As Jeremy E. Sherman wrote in Psychology Today "If you’re dealing with someone who will say anything to win an argument, you shouldn’t keep arguing with them."
Improving yourself is paramount for a commitment to lifelong learning and the development of a growth mindset. Author Jim Rohn recognized the need to improve himself when his mentor Earl Shoaff told him, “If you want to be wealthy and happy, learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Understand there is often no perfect time to work on yourself. Those who dedicate themselves to self-improvement do so by striking the iron and growing their soul. In a 1782 letter Benjamin Franklin wrote to Reverend Richard Price about using the press to spread ideas, Franklin wrote “we now find that it is not only right to strike while the iron is hot, but that it may be very practicable to heat it by continually striking.” Taking such a proactive approach to heat the iron by striking it can be applied to growing your soul. In a letter to grade school students, Kurt Vonnegut advised them to write a poem and then “Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what is inside you, and you have made your soul grow.”
HIGHLIGHT YOUR IMPERFECTIONS
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of highlight imperfections and repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object or person, rather than something to disguise. Having a commitment to lifelong learning and developing a growth mindset often requires an acknowledgement of imperfection. The human experience can be messy at times and when we highlight our imperfections we can then come to the realization that an imperfection or a disadvantage can be turned into an advantage. Ivan Arreguin-Toft analyzed conflict between those with advantages (the Goliaths) competing against those with disadvantages (the Davids) and discovered the Davids substantially increased their odds of winning when they amended their strategies. As a result of his findings Arreguin-Toft noted “Weak actors are much more likely to win even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.” Arreguin-Toft’s work also allows one to understand how experience can triumph over theory. A critical component of developing a growth mindset is the processing and learning of experience. As said throughout history by so many, “experience is the best teacher.”
As you navigate the chaos of life periodically remind yourself that accepting help is a strength. Best-selling author Stephen King allowed his wife to help him jumpstart his career when she took his draft manuscript of Carrie out of the trash and encouraged him to revise it. As King noted “I couldn’t see wasting time creating a novella I didn’t like and wouldn’t be able to sell.” With her help King finished his first novel and after 30 rejections sold it to Doubleday. King’s story is like so many others who developed a lifelong growth mindset in that they recognized the overnight success myth. Ultimate Fighting champion Conor Anthony McGregor commented on the overnight success myth and said: "There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist; we are all equal as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time." For those obsessed with a growth mindset they often realize the possibility of improving upon the original. As Fernando Suarez and Gianvito Lanzolla concluded from their research being first does not always guarantee success and “first-mover status can confer advantages, but it does not do so categorically. Much depends on the circumstances in which it is sought.”
VALUE THE ORDINARY
As you commit to lifelong learning and develop your growth mindset be sure to value the ordinary people you encounter each day. Former U.S. President James Garfield made a similar observation and noted “There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.” When you value ordinary people you can then treat people as they ought to be. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote the following passage concerning the ideal of helping others to achieve their potential: “If you treat people as they are, they will become worse. If you treat them as they could be, they will become better. If we treat people as if they were what they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” By valuing ordinary people and treating them as they ought to be, you are also treading softly on the dreams of others as many people are doing the best they can to navigate the chaos of their life.
LIFELONG LEARNING ASSESSMENT
To see how frequently you practice each of the 10 tactics related to the strategy of "commit to lifelong learning by developing a growth mindset" consider completing the LIFELONG LEARNING ASSESSMENT. The assessment takes approximately five minutes and if you would like, the survey will email your responses so you can track your progress over time.
A perfect score is 10 x 5 = 50. No one is perfect.
40 or more – you practiced the 10 tactics quite often. Be sure to maintain that momentum moving forward.
30 to 49 – you practiced some of the 10 tactics frequently and a few others often.
20 to 39 – you practiced a few of the 10 tactics sometimes.
19 or fewer – you practiced the 10 tactics rarely or sometimes.
A few things to remember about the assessment score:
The 10 tactics related to the strategy of "commit to lifelong learning by developing a growth mindset" are a practice. These are not referred to as strengths and weaknesses by design. You either practice one of the tactics or you do not. You can always practice one or more of the tactics to help you leverage your mind, body, and spirit to navigate the chaos.
Not all tactics are created equal. Some are good for certain situations. People learn to use specific tactics through experience so do not feel as though you need to have everything figured out the first few times you use one.
What works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. If a specific tactic worked for you and you then tell someone else to use it rest assured their life situation is most likely different from yours so how they use it will probably differ as well.