Monday, 7 July 2008

Is It Possible to Increase Confidence and Self-Esteem?

Following the post about a problem prodigies often face, I decided to write a little more about the book mentioned at the end. That post is here.

Carol Dweck wrote a fascinating book, MindSet, the new psychology of success, which described in detail a reality I was vaguely aware of for a very long time. I love it when smart people describe clearly things I've been convinced of, but have never found the words...

It explained why I'm mildly offended every single time someone tells me I'm 'lucky' (usually for being able to do something that I've spent considerable time learning how to do) or that they can't ever do... whatever... because they don't already know how to do it.

I swear, somedays, that the single biggest obstacle facing most people and their chance at success is the solid, unsupportable, immutable belief that they can't do.
As Dr. Dweck explains, there are two different views of the world: fixed (those 'lucky' comments) and mine. Well, she doesn't know me, but it is mine: the growth mindset. I assume that if people have learned how to do something, figured out how to do something or done something, I could, too. 

The only impediment I see is that I have not yet done it and that I haven't yet learned to do it or figured out how. 

I may never take the time or go to the trouble of learning or figuring it out... but I can, I'm sure of it.

Those other people have a completely other view of the world: 
they can't
If they haven't done it before, they can't. If they don't identify personally with someone who has, they can't. If someone hasn't invited them to, they can't. They can't.

The tragedy is that this mindset is learned. The good news is that both are learned.
No one is born with any belief. Beliefs are learned, assembled, adopted, conditioned and acquired. However cast in stone they feel, they are learned. That means that they can be re-learned. The only thing anyone needs to know is that it is possible.

A thing I know about self-confidence is that it is based on the things one believes one can do well... and the collection of things one thinks one can probably learn to do. 

While there isn't much anyone can do to increase the number of things they've accomplished in the past, there is a great deal that can be done about what they think they can do. It starts with believing it is possible
It is possible to increase self-confidence and intentionally adopt a growth mindset. It, like all changes to ingrained thinking, takes practice, intention and self-awareness. 

It is possible to take the things we thought were cast in stone and mold them into other things.

1 comment:

  1. Where were you when I needed someone to tell me the giant "YOU CAN'T" that was being installed in my head could be deleted??