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Does what you think about yourself really matter? If you had asked me that question about two years ago, my response would likely have been: “no, not really.” But after two years of going from the negative and stressed-out teenage girl I was my freshman year to the more positive, joyful person I am today, my response is much different. What you think about yourself is the foundation of your perspective, your mindset, and your view of the world.
Emerging growth mindset research is generating new insights about human relationships. To what extent do we believe that human characteristics, other than abilities –such as being kind, joyful, smart, courageous or cooperative– are fixed versus changeable? Can each of those qualities be developed, or are they innate? Our answer deeply affect our perceptions and behaviors, which in turn affect the quality of our relationships and our collaboration with others.
An eight-year-old student picks up a tennis racket in physical education class. He throws up a ball and makes solid contact, hitting the ball over the net with relative ease. A classmate named Roberto watches in awe as he perceives him to be a young Pete Sampras. “Why is it so easy for him?” he thinks to himself as he swings and misses the ball several times.
In November we wrote a post about the impact the mindset of a teacher can have about a student’s problem behavior. Related to this, Stanford researchers Jason Okonofua, David Paunesku and Gregory Walton recently published research demonstrating the power of teacher mindsets on student behavior.
Simply playing a sport is not always a great way to develop as an athlete. In order to improve, we need to not only play the game, but also engage in activities designed for improvement. This could include practicing drills that target specific skills and playing modified games to advance our understanding of different aspects of the game. Also critical are soliciting and receiving feedback and reflecting. These are examples of time spent in the Learning Zone.