Sarah was not an average student, at least academically speaking. Her friends thought she was a bit weird because she could not swim and puberty had struck her a bit earlier than expected. In her class, it was rare to find her outside the top five positions, but never number one. No matter how hard she tried, she just could not get to be number one, and it was not because any particular person was number one all the time; it was almost like there was a monkey with “uchawi” dancing on her luck.
So her Kiswahili teacher, Mr. Oloo called her to his office one day and asked her, “Sarah, what’s wrong? We all know that you are capable of being index one when your turn to represent our school in KCPE reaches. What is stopping you from being number one?” He was really concerned about her stagnation. It seemed like the teachers already chose her as their index one despite her only being in class seven.
“Sit down here, let’s look at your past report forms.”
Sarah sat uncomfortably, but she already knew what the problem was as she fidgeted in her seat and played with her fingers beneath the chair where Mr. Oloo could not see them.
“So, here you have straight 90s in Mathematics and English, then you have 80s in Social Studies and CRE as well as Kiswahili and then we have Science here where you are just not on the map?! What’s going on?” Mr. Oloo asked, very surprised.
“Well teacher… it’s just that… that I don’t think I’m very good at Science” Sarah responded nervously.
“Who told you that?” asked Mr. Oloo.
“No one, it’s just that I do not understand it and I always fail so I just stopped trying.”
“Have you ever gone to Mrs. Ng’eno for tuition?” asked the teacher again.
“Yes I have. My mother made me start tuition but it hasn’t helped me so much. I just improved a little. I’m just not good in Science teacher.” said Sarah sadly.
This happens to so many of us often; we decide we are not good at something even before we give ourselves a chance to explore it as far as we can. Sarah had already decided she was bad at Science just because it had given her poor results a few times, and had closed her mind off to the possibility of being good at it ever again and by extension, she had closed herself off to being index one.
Sarah has what we call a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. The difference between the two is that someone with a fixed mindset is focused on challenges rather than chances to grow, gives up easily and sees the efforts they put into achieving something as useless. Someone with a growth mindset sees challenges as opportunities to grow, sees effort as a way to becoming better and finds lessons and inspiration in the success of others.
Sometimes our friends limit us, our parents limit us, our teachers even limit us by things they do; but we are not really in trouble when that happens because you can choose to overcome it and prove them wrong. We get into trouble when we limit ourselves, because we are all we have. Any time we decide that “You know what? I can’t do this.” is when we are really in trouble. Sarah could not become number one because her Science grades pulled her marks down and someone always found a way to overtake her because of that. Even the tuition could not help because no matter how hard someone else tries to help you, when you’ve decided you do not even want to help yourself, then you will still fail. You have to overcome the fixed mindset so that you can accept others’ help.
One thing that can help you overcome a serious setback to achievement is replacing “never” with “not yet.” So for example, Sarah could say that “I have NOT YET been able to pass Science” instead of “I will never pass Science.” The difference is that one shows that you are one day planning to, and the other makes sure you will never pass Science.
To cut the long story short, Sarah actually became index one and went on to love Chemistry in high school, but she really did not enjoy Physics. That was actually the part of Science that had been dragging her down in Class Seven. The truth is that if you read this, and you get inspired for three days and then you run out of steam, then you were just reading it with a fixed mind. This is something you have to live by persevering through setbacks, stretching yourself and deciding to practice and keep on practicing what you know you are not good at even if you do not enjoy it so much. Keep on growing.
Author: Martie Mtange | Date Created2016-09-21 01:55:46 | Comments: 0