Abby was called to a meeting by her boss. He was not happy with her work on the last project and gave her some critical feedback. Devastated, she left his office and began to question her competence. She felt like a failure. Maybe it was time to quit and do something different.

Jared decided he was spending too much money on handymen. So, when his front door handle broke, he retrieved his tools and tried to fix it himself. Frustrated, he could not. All he did was stare at the problem with no idea what to do next. His self-talk was, “I am a failure. I can’t fix the easiest thing. What is wrong with me that I am so dumb?”

These two people have something in common. Both operate from a fixed mindset. They believe that their intelligence and level of creativity are predetermined and cannot be changed. Their thoughts tell them they either have what it takes to get the job done or they don’t. But they want to be successful, yet believe something innate stops them. In their mind, it’s because they have limited abilities and talents.

A mindset consists of our beliefs, how we see ourself, our environment and respond to it all. Think of a mindset as an orientation toward life challenges. Author and researcher Dr. Carol Dweck says there two types of mindsets. One type measures success by talent and fixed traits (fixed mindset). The other measure success by learning and growing (growth mindset).

People with fixed mindsets doubt themselves when they fail or are criticized. They need constant approval and evaluate challenges through the lens of being a winner or loser. They avoid situations that make them uncomfortable. They often refuse to think they can change and so, stay stuck in negative patterns with other people and themself.

A person with a growth mindset welcomes change and growth. They are resilient. This person understands that in-born abilities are great but they alone don’t determine success. Anything, positive or negative, can be used to learn. People with a growth mindset persevere beyond setbacks . They don’t give up. They know that with practice, they can improve.

If Abby, the young professional we met earlier, had a growth mindset, she might reframe her negative thoughts: “My boss expects a lot, and so, he is giving me constructive criticism. Let me step back and analyze what he said and think about what I can do to improve the project. Perhaps I need to take a different approach and can come up with a few creative strategies.”

For Jared, the key is to begin acknowledging his reality. He really doesn’t have great home repair skills. His father never taught him, but he could learn. There are hundreds of You Tube videos, friends and others willing to teach him basic handyman skills. With effort and persistence, he too can develop handyman skills.

So, take a few moments for a little self-reflection. How did you handle problems this week? Did you get defensive or accept feedback? Are you cultivating grit and not allowing failure to define you? Or are you defeated and discouraged because of setbacks? Can you create goals that keep you motivated and interested in new things? Basically, are you ready to grow through whatever circumstance you encounter? If you approach life with the idea that problems create opportunities to grow and learn, you have a growth mindset.

And consider this, having a fixed mindset is not consistent with Scripture. The idea that we can’t change and grow stands in direct contrast to the power of the Gospel to transform our life. Spiritually, growth comes when we humble ourself and recognize the power of God ‘s Spirit in us to change us. The Gospel is all about change that morphs us to be more like Christ. In this life, we will have troubles. How we respond to those troubles can create growth. Surrender to God and allow His Spirit to change you. His work is never done in us.

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