''Entschuldigung, Ich spreche kein Deutsch''. That means- 'I'm sorry, I don't speak German. I always find the irony worthy of a chuckle, when someone articulates they don't speak the very language they are speaking. So, I was saying this phrase an awful lot when I first moved to Germany. In fact, at one stage this was pretty much all I said when I was out and about in the town, choosing to speak a messy mixture of English and advanced hand signals to communicate myself. In truth, I spoke some German, far from perfect but enough to get by.
So what was happening?
Why did I say this? My honest answer is for a few different reasons: a fear of looking stupid, a fear of failure, and a pinch of laziness (OK then, maybe more than a pinch of laziness).
Skip forward to today and my German is much better. I owe it all to an Idea I learned in the Book 'Mindset' by Carol Dweck: Fixed Vs Growth Mindset.
When we have a Fixed mindset, we believe our abilities, skills, capabilities are as they are, we have a fixed upper-limit and this can't be changed. Differently, when we have a Growth mindset, we believe that our abilities are improvable, with the right amount of time and the correct strategy, we can become better.
Dweck's decades of research suggests that the most Successful Athletes, Managers and Entrepreneurs operate with a Growth mindset, they live with the belief they can and ARE always improving.
I started with the Story of my German language learning to demonstrate the power of a Growth Mindset. Previously when someone spoke to me in German, my mindset was fixed as I would say 'I don't speak German'. My response, which stemmed from a belief, wasn't allowing me to practice or engage in conversation. My mindset was Fixed. A metaphor that comes to mind is a Door. Each time someone spoke to me in German, they were opening a door for me, the door of possibility- the possibility to speak and learn German. All I was doing was shutting it closed. I was able to keep this door open by changing my response to 'Ich lerne Deutsch' meaning I'm learning German. This simple tweak changed my mindset from fixed to Growth. I was allowing myself to become better.
Words are POWERFUL.
If you take anything away from reading this today, let it be this- Words are POWERFUL.
When I told myself 'I don't speak German' my mind responded accordingly by cutting off access to the German I did speak. I know this because on occasions when someone would continue speaking with me in German, I literally couldn't find the words to express myself, even if I understood the person. My Brain had switched off from even trying.
What we say (which is a reflection of our beliefs and thoughts) effects both our mind and body. Did you know you physically becoming weaker when you repeat out loud the phrase 'I'm weak and unworthy'? Say this out loud 10 times and notice the difference it makes.
With this in mind, what statements about yourself and your abilities could you tweak? Perhaps you always tell yourself how you have no confidence?
How would things be different if instead, you started to say 'Everyday, I'm becoming more and more confident in myself'.
Feels different right? The door of possibility, the door of the growth mindset opens.
An exercise to identify where your mindset may be fixed is to write out the words at the top of a piece of paper in four columns: I am... I am not... I always... I never...
Now write down what ever comes to mind. Very quickly you will identify what fixed beliefs you have about yourself and your abilities. Then it's a matter of tweaking and living with the new beliefs.
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