I did a thing this week.
I came right out of my comfort zone (or as I like to call it, my yummy yolk) and I did a talk on Mindset to 300 employees at Buckinghamshire Council.
I was nervous... but once I got in my swing, I loved it! But you see, I could have easily turned down the invitation because my Scribble (my Fixed Mindset voice) was telling me that I couldn't do it - that I should stick to what I know. It said, very strongly to me, 'You are a primary school teacher - what would you possibly have to offer these corporate folk?'
I introduced the audience to Scribble at the very start of the presentation. I explained that she often likes to come with me, especially to such events and can be very annoying because she is constantly hijacking my thoughts. I got them to say, "Hello!" to her because I have found that the way to manage her is to acknowledge her so she doesn't feel ignored.
A whole room of 300 adults saying "Hello!" to one of my illustrations! That is a #MakingMemories moment, right there! It's a definite moment of 2023 I will cherish to make me smile! One of my take-aways to the delegates was the suggestion to name their own Fixed Mindset voice because we all have one. By naming it, we acknowledge it and are better placed to notice/manage it when it speaks. We also become alerted to it's trigger points.
It's the voice in your head that tries to convince you that you can't do something, that you just don't have the capabilities and that you'll make a fool of yourself if you try to do something new that is a challenge. 'What if you mess up? What will people think?'
The fixed mindset would have you believe that everyone is judging you and not in a positive way. That's why it wants you to perform flawlessly so that the judgement is good. It wants to micro-manage everything you do to engineer situations so that you are protected from the possibility that it might all go wrong and you end up with egg on your face! Why would you possibly want to try doing anything new that is remotely out of your comfort zone if this is the background to it - exhausting!
I was given two suggestions by delegates as to what they would call their fixed mindset voices. One guy referenced his child in picking his name and called it, 'Shut-Up!' Another woman said she imagined hers as a little old woman, nagging from the side lines and called her 'Betty'!
Talking about this joy sapping force in a light-hearted way is powerful on several levels. Firstly, it helps us to destigmatise it's presence and the power it holds when we think we are the only ones who have this going on in our heads. By talking about it with others, it holds less power. By putting it in the spotlight, we begin to realise that everybody struggles at times with this voice that tells them 'you can't, what are you thinking?'
When we talk about it with others, the power it holds (which is essentially tied up with judgement from the people we are talking with) diminishes. Vulnerability is the source of all human solidarity and connection. By being vulnerable in admitting this voice speaks to us, we give permission to others to do the same and therefore the feeling of negative judgement disappears.
Moreover, it helps us to be inspired by others as we appreciate the struggle that people are going through when they are striving to achieve, despite the presence of their Scribble. This trait is the epitome of the Growth Mindset - to be inspired by others' success rather than be threatened by it is hugely desirable to this way of thinking.
Scribble is one of the main characters in my next, soon-to-be-published picture books. Scribble has become close to my heart, not just in my head! I have realised that Scribble is only trying to protect me in the best way they know how. It is almost a childlike presence in our minds, coming from a place of just wanting love and acceptance from the outside world. Just like when we consider parenting and praise from a Mindset point-of-view, it's not the Scribble who is at fault, it is their behaviour. We need to praise the Scribble when they are able to turn around the Fixed Mindset behaviour so that it is more Growth. We must give ourselves a big pat on the back when we overcome our Scribble because in so doing, we are on a path of progress.