Monday, March 2, 2020

You can either progress or make excuses

This story is about the growth-mindset anti-pattern. I have been fascinated by Carol Dweck's work on the mindset. I just love the thought that any human being is capable of doing anything he or she aspires to, with a growth mindset. I find the thought that our abilities are not limited as quite liberating. Embracing growth mindset means that our successes and failures are born out of our minds.

The story of John McEnroe is quite interesting in this regard. I had known this a long ago but it got refreshed in my memory when i recently read in Mukesh Bansal's book- "No Limits". Here it goes:

John McEnroe is one of the most iconic tennis players of all time, but he is also known for his misconduct on the court
During matches, he has insulted umpires and broken rackets among other outbursts. He has even been booed by spectators.
And despite being a brilliant and resourceful player, his story is a lesson in mindset. He always believed that he had immense talent, and when he did win, he credited his innate gift or talent for the victory. But when he lost, he always blamed some external factors-from someone in his box leaving during a match to the noise from a cameraman's headphones. He went through his entire career with this fixed mindset. Does this inability to take ownership for failure sound familiar to you? He later admitted that his fixed mindset held him back from achieving his true capabilities. Convinced that he was born to play tennis, he believed that talent was everything. Imagine how much more he could have achieved if he had realised his actual problem earlier in his career, taken more ownership for his results and adopted a growth mindset.

In a nutshell, growth mindset isn't for the lesser mortals. Even the ilk of supremely talented people can underachieve their potential if they look for excuses every time they fail.

I write this when New Zealand has handed India a 2-0 drubbing in test matches. The India team with it's underwhelming performance has nowhere to hide. One positive sign is the captain Virat Kohli standing up and owning the outcome and not hiding behind excuses.

Virat Kohli: "It was a matter of not having enough intent in the first game, and not closing out here. We didn't bowl in the right areas for long enough. They created a lot of pressure. It was a combination of us not executing well enough and New Zealand sticking to their plans."

Though it is a difficult situation for the team but with this growth mindset, i am sure the team would rise from this experience and be more competitive and win the future test series.

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