Learning from Our Children

My husband and I took our son, Gabriel, to his second “Music Together” class this morning. We’ve noticed that he really enjoys it — he smiles, laughs, and appears very excited and engaged! And we have also interestingly observed that he picks and chooses the activities he participates in during the class. Sometimes he takes a few steps off the mat, tilts his head, and watches and analyzes the class while making his decision. Most of the time he chooses to re-engage, and other times he decides not to.

 

In a sense, he decides where he wants to spend his energy. And if something does not suit him, he will not simply succumb to what’s going on right in front of him.

 

Could this type of analysis be something we should be doing as adults?

 

How often do we feel that we have to do something? That everyone is “crazy busy” and spread so thin, so we adopt the same behavior?

 

When things are thrown at us, we have a tendency to automatically prioritize them. But is this the best course of action? Or should we be deciding if we should even bother to prioritize certain things in the first place. That is, should we not participate at all?

 

Perhaps this post has more questions than answers. But I challenge everyone (including myself) to consider optimizing for time and energy. Let’s challenge if something actually belongs on our plate or not. Let’s ask ourselves “why” are we engaging and participating.

 

Last year I had the great pleasure of meeting Al Pittampalli, author of Read This Before Our Next Meeting and blogger/founder of The Modern Meeting Standard. In fact, he autographed my personal copy of his book. What I really like about Al is that he is someone who is not afraid to ask the hard questions, hence his mission to change the culture of the Modern Meeting to be better than what it is today.

 

Inside my book, Al personally wrote,

“Lisa, End the status quo!”

 

On that note, perhaps we should consider applying Al’s advice to our lives (in addition to meetings!) and end the status quo by doing what my 21 month old son does: optimize ourselves by choosing how to spend our time and energy.

 

Isn’t it amazing what we can learn from those who are so new in this world — young souls who have a blank slate without preconceived notions?

 

Reframing and Perspective

When we feel overwhelmed or stressed, it is sometimes best to reframe the situation in our minds. We can also refer to that in terms of changing our perspective. For instance, if we were to take an aerial view, as if we were suddenly looking down at an issue from an airplane at 30,000 feet, we would feel less stressed because we would physically be in a position where we could not do too much about the issue; we essentially removed ourselves. This teaches us that managing situations can be helped by our mindsets. In Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams, I discuss this concept in terms of identifying the System vs the Surroundings, as we typically do in engineering. You can basically draw a box around yourself — the system — and recognize that everything outside of the box is not necessarily within your control; all you can do is decide how you can be your best self. Identifying what is in your surroundings is sometimes a great stress reliever — you instantly realize you are not responsible for someone else’s actions but can only be responsible for yourself.

Earlier this week we started to think about mindset, especially in terms of the benefits of having a “growth mindset” (Your Mindset is Important). Connecting the concept of a growth mindset with the aforementioned reframing technique can be very powerful for us. Each has its own benefits, but the combination of having a base mindset of growth – that you can develop yourself for success – in addition to using the techniques of reframing situations in your mind when challenges arise – optimizes your chances for success!

Mindset and the “Art of Learning”

In yesterday’s post, I introduced the concept of having a growth mindset, as described by Carol Dweck (Your Mindset Is Important). Building on that, I would like to share a TEDx YouTube video that features mindset as a topic. Interestingly, the speaker, Eduardo Briceno, Co-Founder and CEO of Mindset Works (www.mindsetworks.com) uses Josh Waitzkin as an example of someone who has a growth mindset. If you remember the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, Josh Waitzkin (played by Max Pomeranc) was the main character depicted in the movie. Do not let the movie fool you — Josh Waitzkin is not only a Chess Champion, for he went on to become a World Champion in Tai Chi Chuan — mainly because of his growth mindset. I actually read Josh Waitzkin’s book a few years ago: The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence and I hope to read it again soon. Paraphrasing the book description, he essentially explains that achievement is a function of a lifestyle; lifestyle fuels a creative and resilient growth process. Such interesting stuff! Enjoy the video!

Your Mindset is Important

Welcome to the first official post for OptimizeBooks.com! Each blog post will focus on a particular area of achievement. Today’s focus is the importance of your mindset.

The word “mindset” has been bandied about a lot recently, but many people do not realize the short and long-term impacts of one’s mindset in life. Perhaps one of the best experts on the topic is Carol Dweck, Ph.D., the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on things like why people succeed and how to foster success — ideas that she described in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dr. Dweck’s website, mindsetonline.com, offers the highlights of what she has studied; it explains the importance of one’s mindset. In particular, Dr. Dweck explains that there is a difference between “fixed” and “growth” mindsets. A fixed mindset essentially means that you believe that everything is a given — that success is dependent on traits and qualities you either have or don’t have. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe they can develop and mold their abilities and talents, especially through effort and dedication [What is Mindset].

Though there is not necessarily a “right” or “wrong” type of mindset, we can leverage Dweck’s research for our own benefit. For instance, instead of having a fixed mindset, where we may try to prove ourselves over and over (because we think we have a finite amount of certain success traits), it might be more prudent to spend that energy and time on developing ourselves in a particular area, especially to work on our goals. Logically, we can optimize and maximize our chances for success if we focus our energy on personal development.

In Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams, the ideas of optimizing yourself – particularly spending energy and time on what you can do, on how to achieve your goals, is a major premise of the book; in fact, it depends on your mindset. Given Dweck’s research, we can then realize how critical it is to develop a growth mindset and maintain the spirit of “optimizing” ourselves!