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Growth vs Fixed Mindset in Outdoor Adventure

The growth vs fixed mindset understanding stems from the work of psychologist Carol Dweck, in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. She explains that a fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any way. People exhibiting this mindset tend to avoid challenges and give up easily when faced with an obstacle. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.

Growth mindset, on the other hand, thrives on challenges and sees failures as a learning experience for growth. People exhibiting this mindset sees the effort as a path to mastery. They learn from criticism instead of ignoring the feedback, and as a result, they reach ever-higher levels of achievement.

One simple example is the power of ‘yet’. It’s quite normal to get frustrated when trying new things, and we might end up saying ‘I can’t do this’, and give up entirely. By saying this, your brain shifts into believing that there is no point in pursuing further, closing off any learning possibility.

Instead, by learning to say ‘I can’t do this yet’, this simple addition makes you believe that while you may not be able to do it now, it is possible to achieve it if more effort is put into learning and practicing it. It is reframing your thoughts to see it from a different perspective.

Outdoor adventure is often associated with the qualities of grit and resilience. These are the important values that trigger that little voice in our head that say “get up” after we have taken a tumble and fallen down. No doubt having perseverance is critical to success. Getting up after a fall is only part of the journey. When we also learn to self-reflect, accept feedback, problem-solve by breaking the problem down into smaller and more manageable parts, then we truly embrace a growth mindset and have much more tools to create our success.

Growth Mindset and The Pandemic
Having a growth mindset isn’t about meeting ONE challenge; rather, it’s about meeting it and then welcoming the next challenge. It’s about constantly learning, getting better, and increasing knowledge and skills.

During the MCO, we had to rely on our resilience to get through the sudden isolation and challenges. When people were sent home to create offices at their kitchen tables, to home school their kids, and figure out how to buy things over the internet, nearly all of it was unfamiliar. Feeling “lost in the unfamiliar”, our brains went into survival mode. Malaysians showed their true grit and we became resourceful, adaptable and embraced a powerful growth mindset to create solutions on the fly when there was no precedent in our life to guide us.

Now it is more important than ever not to fall back into a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset can be overly focused on the final destination and outcome of the goal, whereas the growth mindset is focused on the systems or habits necessary for continuous improvement in achieving a goal.

The RMCO period will bring about its own challenges. As many people start returning to work and routines, our brains are about to get a huge dose of stress as we shift from being “lost in the unfamiliar” to confusion from feeling “lost in the familiar.” The “new normal” isn’t going to be a set of fixed norms. The new normal is change.

So how can we best handle that confusion and not get demotivated by an ever-changing world? Stop thinking of those changes as failures, but as continuous improvement. Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure. Then realize that for every goal we accomplish, we should celebrate and then make a new goal. We will never lack opportunities for learning if we are open to it. People with a growth mindset know how to constantly create new goals to meet ongoing challenges and opportunities.

To develop a growth mindset, we have to learn to embrace uncertainty. We must realize that in order to learn, we must be challenged. Thus, we have to embrace projects and tasks which take us out of our comfort zone in which we may be confused, frightened, weak, or vulnerable so that we can learn to master them. A growth mindset encourages us to persist when we face a setback and to try different approaches until we find one that works.

Let us know in the comments how you applied Growth mindset to challenges during the MCO and RMCO. We are keen to get your feedback!


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