head shot of Zlatian Iliev


Growth Mindset

October 02, 2022

The idea of continuous learning has been a life philosophy of mine for a very long time. The principle I would like to share today is quite simple but incredibly powerful. You can either be in a fixed or a growth mindset. Depending on which, you can see the same challenge as demoralizing and unfair or an opportunity to better yourself. Compounded, this can make a profound difference in your life.

This concept was formally reintroduced to me as part of a training session where they showed us this video on the topic. Later on, I also read the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and this is when things really clicked on a deeper level.

I don’t want to do an injustice to the work of Carol Dweck so I will stop here and leave you with the recommendation of diving into it yourself. Instead, I would like to share a personal story from my childhood that really shaped how I think.

In high school, I wanted to learn a second foreign language. Without knowing how hard it is, I picked French. I was exposed to English at an early age so I didn’t realize how bad I was at learning new languages. I was about to find that out the hard way.

In my first semester of learning French, I barely got a passing grade. I failed so many exams that my teacher had to pull me aside and ask me why I wasn’t studying. Little did she know that I was not only studying but giving it my all. Her recommendation was to write each new word 10 times. That didn't work for me so I decided to write every word 100 times instead. Regardless of my efforts, I could barely remember even 10% of the words, not to mention I messed up the spelling on almost every one of them.

After I told my teacher about it, she didn’t believe me until I showed her my notebook. The next day I came to school and brought her all of the notebooks I had finished. All filled with the words I had tried to learn. Her jaw dropped in disbelief. She told me that in her 20 years of teaching, she had never seen such a hard case. That was swiftly followed by encouragement.

I stayed the course and in the second semester things finally started to click. I focused on learning the language, instead of my grades, and eventually, that compound knowledge kicked in. I was now passing all my exams and getting better and better grades. By the end of my studies, I could hold a conversation in French and even got a DELF B2 certificate. Victory!

Fast forwarding to today, I can barely speak any French. Surprise, surprise, I forgot mostly everything. What stuck with me is the life lesson I learned from that whole experience. It showed me that with hard work and dedication, combined with a growth mindset I have the ability to do almost anything I put my mind to. I didn't know it at the time but staying in a growth mindset was the thing that helped me persevere that first semester.

Despite my not-so-good memory, the growth mindset is still serving me well to this day and I am certain it will continue to do so for as long as I am alive.

Hopefully, at least someone can find value in reading this article.

Keep a growth mindset and take care!

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