Be Radically Open-Minded to Accelerate Your Learning Curve
how to nurture a growth mindset
There are two types of people in the world — those who view life with a growth mindset and those that see everything as fixed. However, not everyone sits cleanly in a single camp.
This is because when we’re tasked with learning something new, the climb up the learning curve can be a long and arduous task. Sometimes the climb is so steep that it can feel like we’re rolling backward with no brakes to keep us from going back to the bottom.
When we don’t see progress, we become demotivated.
We may fall into a fixed mindset due to the setback. We see ourselves as a failure because we’re unable to make any traction in our learning. We start to make the correlation that maybe we’re just not meant to learn new things — that we’ve reached a point in our life where we’re incapable of learning anything new.
So how do you conquer the climb? How do you flatten the mountain and make the task of learning much more achievable? How, exactly, do you eat the figurative elephant and accelerate the process of learning?
Your mind is a tool
The wonderful thing about your mind is that it can work for you, or against you. It’s a tool that governs your thoughts, decides how you act and react to things. But most important of all, it determines how you perceive your world, your adversities, and challenges — then deal with it accordingly.
There is a misconception that those with a fixed mindset are incapable of learning anything new. However, there’s more to it than that.
Carol Dweck, the pioneer behind the idea of fixed and growth mindsets, elaborates in her book — Mindset: The New Psychology of Success — that a fixed mindset is more how you react to situations and circumstances.
Those with a fixed mindset tend to chase after accolades and recognition rather than true growth. The validation becomes a coping mechanism that hides their personal imperfections and inability to properly achieve the things they are pursuing.
Failure is dirty and often swept under the rug rather than celebrated. Sometimes, a fixed mindset person does this without realizing it. They may believe in learning new things but only as an ends to a means to something that brings them recognition for what they already know and capable of doing.
As a result, when a fixed mindset person comes face to face with a new concept or task of learning something that may be more challenging than usual, the learning curve feels steeper and any set back is viewed as a futile attempt.
The mind is blunt and unable to accept its reality.
In contrast, those with a growth mindset embraces the setbacks and often seek them in order to create a feedback loop.
So what’s the main difference between these two schools of thought? The fixed mindset is radically closed while the growth mindset is radically opened.
Unblocking the mental drain and unclog your brain’s pipes
A fixed mindset is equivalent of having a blocked drain.
It requires a diagnosis of the kind of blockage (hairball? too much toilet paper? something that isn’t supposed to go down the drain?) before a suitable solution (plunger? pipe and sink cleaner? chemical enzyme unblockers?) can be determined.
When it comes to transforming a fixed mindset into growth fueled one, you need to pause and take a look at your purpose for learning.
- is it for vanity purposes?
- are you only doing it for recognition?
- is it to impress someone else?
Then you need to observe your attitude towards failure.
- do you shirk away when things don’t go as planned?
- do you often feel embarrassed when you fail?
- do you avoid failure?
- do you often choose the easy path?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a high chance that you’re operating under a fixed mindset.
The next step is to turn these scenarios into something that aligns more with a growth mindset.
If you answered yes to any of the first three questions — vanity, recognition, and for someone else — you need to stop, take a step back and look within yourself. You need to learn, not for the sake of impressing someone but to improve yourself.
When it comes to transforming your mindset into a growth fueled trajectory, imagine yourself without an audience. Would you still attempt to learn the thing you’re trying to learn?
If the answer is no, then you need to discard the task and move onto something else that inspires you from within. Those with a growth mindset are internally fueled and are often unaffected by the perceived judgment and accolades of others. That stuff is more like a bonus than the main motivation behind learning.
Purposefully fail and accept your failures
The thing with failure is that it creates a feedback loop. The more you fail, the more you can evaluate your results and adjust your path accordingly.
When it comes to failure, a fixed mindset person often sports a negative attitude towards failure. They will avoid it at all cost, or pretend it never happened. As a result, the process of learning and actual growth becomes short-circuited by an inability to move forward.
Sometimes this short-circuit comes in the form of perfectionism or the need to get everything right the first time around. When the mind is closed to failure, it is closed to acknowledging the reality of being unskilled.
And that’s the point of the learning curve — to become skilled at the thing you’re trying to learn. We roll backward on the hill because each failure acts as a pain-point that we just don’t know how to deal with and accept.
The feeling of rolling backward is also reality’s way of realigning your expectations.
Those with a growth mindset often start at the bottom of the bell curve and journey their way upwards, their learning and growth accelerated through a general acceptance and understanding of one’s abilities and capacities — that to improve, one needs to keep climbing.
The fixed mindset person, however, begins at the top — the end and glorious height of the knowledge to be obtained — only to be struck down as the overvaluation of one’s skills and knowledge is exposed as being misaligned with the real requirements.
For a growth mindset person, failure is a way to move forward. For a fixed mindset person, failure is a series of unsalvageable setbacks, which prevents them from ever properly able to move forward.
Train yourself not to pre-process
Being radically open-minded is a task that’s practiced by those with a growth mindset.
Being open-minded is the ability and willingness to try new things and consider new ideas. It’s about being receptive without pre-processing ideas and things by your personal prejudices, assumptions, and ideologies.
A fixed minded person has a tendency to preprocess their reality into a more personally acceptable form. This means that the fixed mind sees only what they want to see and discarding everything else that may come into the peripheries.
To be radically open-minded means you are practiced in the art of shaking your preconceptions and accepting things as they are. It doesn’t morph or transform until you are ready to examine it for what it is and melt it with another unprocessed idea.
When it comes to personal growth and accelerated learning, the curve can be as flat or steep as you view it. Failure is part of the learning curve and how you deal with it determines your overall velocity.
The task of transforming yourself from fixed to growth mindset requires acceptance of your current reality — that you might and will probably fail, but from that failure is the opportunity to learn something and view that learning as a form of success.
The point of success is not so you can flaunt it, but for a deeper and internal desire to achieve the task or learning required. The journey up the learning curve is personal and any publicity that comes from it is only ancillary. Only under these circumstances can you view the task of learning in an unaltered state, allow yourself to be radically open-minded, and accelerate the process of gaining a skill, developing new ideas, and creating something spectacular.