motivation · Personal Success

Set Your Mind to It

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Photo by Annie Spratt

When I was five and my sister was four, our babysitter watched us coloring in our coloring books. Where my sister stayed within the lines, I colored slightly (OK, maybe not so slightly) outside the lines. “JoAnne colors nicely and Caroline needs to work on that a little bit.” Her sarcasm was not lost on me, even then.

This bit of criticism colored my world (pardon the pun!) “I am not a good artist.” This was just something I accepted for many years. But I’ve always longed to draw and paint. For someone with no formal art education, I think I am pretty OK. I think I can improve and I very much want to improve.

Thanks to Carol Dweck, we can all sigh optimistically now.

For eons, people believed in the “Fixed Mindset”  – that talents are innate and readily apparent; Believers assert that one should avoid mistakes and failures. In fact, if you find yourself failing at something, people who adopt the “fixed mindset” philosophy say you ought to just quit, because clearly, it’s not for you.

But Dweck, one of the leading researchers of motivation, discovered the truth about achievement and learning: The Growth Mindset. She says you learn from mistakes. You grow! Intelligence and talent are developed and in order to be successful, you must make mistakes. Clearly, this is true. The Wright brothers did not discover how to create a plane on the first attempt and Edison did not discover the light bulb on his first try, either. One needs to make mistakes to learn, grow and achieve.

Growth Mindset believers say “yet”  is the magic word. I can’t draw well yet, but with consistent practice and quality education, I will!

Check out her website: mindsetonline.com. It includes a test to determine where you are on the mindset continuum and ways to change it.

I’m going to start drawing lessons (free) on skillshare.com. Go Growth Mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · motivation · Personal Success

What’s Good About This?

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Sometimes, life seems pretty awful. We dread the tragedies, the upsets, and the disappointments. We try to cling to the successes, the celebrations, and the joy. But life keeps bringing us both. There is no need to fear the “bad” and then dwell on it when it (ultimately) happens.

What you can do is change your thinking.

You can see life differently, and thus, experience it differently. Everything can be good.

It starts with falling in love with reality, warts and all. Accept what is. Don’t judge it.

The other way to change your thinking it to ask the right questions.

One of the most important ones to ask yourself – in the face of adversities and hardship – is:

What is good about this?”

This question really is not that hard to ask. It seems difficult (if not impossible) because we’re programmed to react a certain way to certain events.

There is no changing reality. Your loved one died. You lost your job. You lost your home. You receive a cancer diagnosis. This is reality and no amount of crying or complaining will change it. 

Should you suffer for an extended period of time? Forever? If you suffer, does that do justice to your loved one who passed away? Does it prove you loved them enough?

No. You’re just suffering. And you might be causing those around you who love you to suffer, too.

This is a radical concept in our society. We seem to enjoy drama. But drama is draining.

When you seek the positive, your entire body changes for the better. So does your mind. And when you are light in body and mind, then you can act with clarity and energy. After all, that is what we are, energy. We live and we die, but the energy remains.

Keep asking the question. There is an answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

relationships

Speak Up

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Photo by tchompalov

Five years ago, I left a corporate job to go back to teaching. I missed the kids more than I wanted the money.

I was asked to teach the 4th quarter with sixth graders in a low socio-economic school. Their previous teacher abandoned the post. He never said goodbye, he just left. Of the 30 students I taught, more than half had fathers in prison. Every child qualified for free breakfast and lunch. One of the male students had very strange eyebrows. Someone told me that his older brother and a gang tied him down and shaved his eyebrows off. They never grew back quite right.

As I got to know the children, I realized most had been traumatized in a number of ways: neglect, verbal and physical abuse and (I suspected) sexual abuse.  One of my students was a sweet, round-faced boy. He wore the same pants every day and they looked dirty, but he was always kind. He was always smiling and he walked and talked slowly. I’ll call him Francisco.

One of the teachers had over 12 years experience at the school. She was extremely strict with all of the kids. I know she cared about them and wanted them to be successful, but she acted as if each child had a bull’s eye on their back. She was constantly barking orders and yelling.

We were outside, lined up to go back inside from lunch. Francisco walked slowly to line. Apparently, too slowly. This teacher yelled at him, “Who do you think you are? What are you trying to prove? Too cool to care?” We all stood, stunned. “When you walk, walk with purpose and walk fast! And tuck your shirt in!”

I wanted to explain that this was the way he always walked.

I wanted to come to his defense and vouch for his character.

I wanted to stop her from attacking him wrongfully.

But I didn’t. I froze.

 

It haunts me to this day. I should have stood up for him.

But he was Mexican-American. She was Mexican-American. I am Korean-American, an outsider, only to be there for 9 weeks.

This was their school, not mine.

I see now, I was wrong. It was our school. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

 

Never just stand by silently. Speak your mind when you see a wrong.

Otherwise, you’re participating in the injustice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Success

Podcasts & Productivity

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Photo by Jonathan Velasquez

A year ago,  I read the book “The $100 Startup.”

I hardly remembered what I read, but I recently listened to a podcast (Optimal Living Daily) where the podcaster reviewed this book. The big takeaway (among many) is that people spend an awful lot of time trying to blaze their own trails to success when they can simply follow someone who has already achieved what they want.

The reasoning, Justin (podcast host) believes, is because it feels good to try to create our own means and methods. But if you really want to achieve your goal(s), the most efficient way is to simply follow what someone already did.

This makes sense! Why reinvent the wheel?

We feel good and effective as we blaze our own trail, because we feel so busy.

But do not confuse “busy” with “productive.”

Check the podcast out, he covers many great writers and entrepreneurs. Justin’s voice is very even and mellow. It was easy to listen to as I walked my dog.

 

 

Personal Success

He(art)

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Photo by Randy Tarampi

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent Van Gogh

The voice might then say, “See? This is terrible!” But great work only comes from practice.
Stop procrastinating.
Creativity is the answer to all the “bad” in the world, because art is a culmination of love over time. It is optimism defeating pessimism.
motivation · Personal Success

Bold Moves

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Photo by Stephen Di Donato

Approximately 50% of the population makes New Year’s resolutions. Of them, only 10% realize their goals (Psychology Today).

To make major changes in your life, you need to make some bold moves. But “bold” does not mean drastic and sudden. I like to think of being bold as “being courageous” and embracing a level of discomfort in order to grow.

Waking up a half hour earlier than usual and walking for 30 minutes might be uncomfortable, but doing so on a consistent basis for six months or more will undoubtedly result in favorable change.

One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they set unrealistic objectives. They plan on making radical changes through extreme acts. In reality, all it takes is a bit of courage to expand one’s comfort zone and to do it consistently…kind of like erosion: slow and steady.