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Unbelievable Me: 5 Steps to a Mindset for Success

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UNBELIEVABLE ME

5 Steps to a Mindset for Success

by David Lowell, PE

with Gertrud Lola, LMT

From the Back Cover

“This is a hard-hitting, research-based survey of self-discovery techniques and it’s a top recommendation for readers who come to it with the necessary prerequisites of absorbing a scientific and research-based approach to lasting change.”

—D. Donovan, Senior E-Book Reviewer, MBR Bookwatch, June, 2015

“…Lowell and Lola’s thoroughly researched, compelling self-help work focuses on undoing ‘fixed mindset thinking’…An inventive, entertaining mix of history, research and self-help.”

Kirkus Reviews Magazine, January 15, 2015

YOU’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO BE GREAT!

Begin your shift to the “GROWTH mindset” today.

The secret long held by only the most successful people in the world is out. The growth mindset makes headlines in the major news outlets (such as Time Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes Magazine and others) almost daily. The media consistently provides coverage of the growth mindset being applied in classrooms, businesses, and everyday life throughout the Western hemisphere. And the resulting improvements in performance are dramatic.

The “fixed mindset” has hindered human progress and development in the West for close to 2,000 years. Discover the explicit details of how after decades of investigation, eminent researchers taught numerous individuals to realized their true potential by shifting their mindset.

Lowell and Lola present a 5-step program based on the above research that will help you to unleash your true potential by shifting to the growth mindset. A number of worksheets are provided as well as additional information on goal-attainment strategies to help you put the learned material into practice, and give you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SUCCEED. So whether you’re struggling in life or are already successful and just want to take it to the next level, this book is for you!

Early Praise for UNBELIEVABLE ME

Kirkus Reviews Magazine

Debut authors Lowell and Lola’s thoroughly researched, compelling self- help work focuses on undoing “fixed mindset thinking.”

From Isaac Newton to the Nazis to the unbounded potential of the 21st century, this hybrid of self-help guide and historical document explores the concept of the “fixed mindset” — the cultural, intellectual and emotional forces that encourage people to limit themselves from growing in their accomplishments, abilities and self-esteem. Lowell and Lola frame two camps: those who assume a fixed mindset approach toward life and whose intelligence and abilities are therefore inherently unchangeable and those who embrace the notion of personal growth. The authors explain: “Instead of accepting difficult challenges, learning from their failures, and sometimes being pleasantly surprised when they succeed, people with the fixed mindset only undertake challenges at which they are sure they will be successful. By doing so, they continuously confirm the level of ability they believe they have, and further reinforce their beliefs about their lack of talent.” The book elegantly transitions from scientifically documented studies and historical anecdotes to exercises designed to help participants understand the psychological blockages they carry within themselves. The penultimate section, a workbook, includes prompts that encourage readers to write down ideas that will help them break through their self-imposed barriers. The clearly written text is engaging both as a self-help guide and as a striking compendium of facts. Nazi Germany, for example, began involuntarily sterilizing people only after finding precedent in American practices of the period. The unusual perspectives on geniuses such as Einstein, Newton and others provide a welcome change from typical portraits.

An inventive, entertaining mix of history, research and self-help.

Kirkus Reviews Magazine, January 15, 2015

Midwest Reviews Magazine

Unbelievable Me is all about realizing one’s true potential and offers a program for such an achievement — and if this focus and purpose sounds familiar, that’s because there are many self-help books on the market that offer similar promises.

The difference here is between a promise kept and a dream: Unbelievable Me is the ‘kept promise’ of exactly how to go about the process, not a dreamy review of possibilities; and its five-step program is concrete and cemented in progressive understanding and education, not fantasy.

That’s not to say that this is a simple process: with some [originally] forty-one chapters (plus several appendices) packed with a combination of historical review, psychological insight, and self-help admonitions, readers need to be prepared to work for their goals — not be spoon-fed.

Chapters are directed to readers who may have tried self-development techniques before, with disappointing results. They are all about realizing one’s potential, and they offer the insights (backed by scientific studies and historical precedent) to get there. The techniques and plans presented are designed to be customized by readers: they aren’t boilerplate templates. So, self-help readers should be prepared to think, work, and refine the process of achieving their goals and negating the effects of fixed mindsets.

It’s no light undertaking to consider established precedents and shake them up. It’s no light process to take recommendations and customize them until they are right. And it’s no casual choice to pick up Unbelievable Me to supplement the process of change: readers who expect quick, easy results need not look here.

This is a hard-hitting, research-based survey of self-discovery techniques and it’s a top recommendation for readers who come to it with the necessary prerequisites of absorbing a scientific and research-based approach to lasting change.

— D. Donovan, Senior E-Book Reviewer

MBR Bookwatch, June, 2015

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank our family and friends for all of the support they provided. We wish to express gratitude to the numerous publishers, authors, and researchers for their authorization to cite their work. We thank Hot Tree Editing for the high quality work they provided as well as all of our many beta readers for their insightful comments and input. The staff at http://www.edutopia.org/ offered extremely helpful input as well.

ISBN13: 978-0990805717

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016932084

First Edition

Copyright 2015 by David Lowell

Published by Practical Manifestations

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by mechanical, photographic, electronic, phonographic process without express consent of the author. Likewise, it may not be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or copied for public or private use beyond those terms classified under “fair use”, such as brief quotations embodied in articles.

Disclaimer and a Note on the Content of This Text

Please note that this text is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice and/or treatment. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and especially in instances which may require diagnosis or medical attention.

The text contains information regarding a few different approaches to personal development. As such, we have made every effort to present brief but accurate portrayals of each approach and to ensure that the information contained was correct at press time. However, we do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions as well as inaccuracies in the referenced sources, whether they result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

Introduction

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Part 1: The Problem, Its Cause & the Solution

Chapter 1. Feeling like You Are Unable to Realize Your True Potential

Disability and Depression in America

The Nation’s Dependency on Medication

Western Culture: Consistently Living in Survival Mode

Chapter 2. Identifying the Problem & Its Primary Cause (the Fixed Mindset)

Identifying the Problem

Identifying the Primary Cause

How Common Is the Fixed Mindset?

Do You Have the Fixed Mindset?

Chapter 3. Identifying the Solution (Switching to the Growth Mindset)

Why the Typical Approach Sometimes Fails

Studies on Adolescents Demonstrate That It Is Possible to Overcome the Fixed Mindset

How Adults Can Overcome the Fixed Mindset

Chapter 4. Why Growth-Inhibiting Beliefs Are So Common in Modern Western Culture

The Modern Source of the Fixed Mindset

Part 2: The Approach & Preparing to Address the Issues at Hand

Chapter 5. Explanation of Our Approach

The Purpose of the Program

The Five-Step Program

Chapter 6. Calming the Brain & Opening the Mind

Preparing to Calm the Brain to Open the Mind

An Exercise for Calming the Brain and Opening the Mind

Chapter 7. Forget What You Think You Know about Your True Potential (& the Rest of Reality, as Well)

Chapter 8. Identify Your Primary Goals for Personal Development

Moving out of Survival Mode

Selecting Primary Personal Development Goals

Prepare to Be Highly Creative, Talented & Intelligent

Part 3: Why Your Beliefs Are Important & How They Are Formed & Reinforced by the Human Experience

Chapter 9. Why Your Beliefs Are So Important & How They’re Typically Formed and Maintained

How Beliefs Are Usually Formed

How Beliefs Are either Maintained or Modified

Are Members of Modern Western Culture Presented with New Information?

Can Man Absorb Information that Challenges His Beliefs?

Why Do We Resist New Information?

How Our Beliefs Are Affected by the Fact That We Live in Modern Western Culture

STEP 1

LEARN HOW YOUR MINDSET IS INFLUENCED BY OLD POPULAR BELIEFS

Part 4: The Main Components of the Fixed Mindset: Genetic Essentialism & Determinism

Chapter 10. The Fixed Mindset

How Your Mindset Can Influence Your Behavior

Your Mindset Can Influence Your Performance

How One Develops the Fixed Mindset

The Fixed Mindset and Depression

The Fixed Mindset Can Affect a Person’s Entire Life

Dweck & Her Colleagues Prove That It Is Possible to Shift to the Growth Mindset

Chapter 11. Genetic Essentialism

Psychological Essentialism

The Common Misunderstanding of Genes

Cognitive Dissonance

Chapter 12. Determinism

Biological Determinism

Chapter 13. Freudian Theory

What Is Freudian Theory?

What Makes Freudian Theory Deterministic?

The Lack of Solid Scientific Evidence behind Freudian Theory

What We Can Learn from Freudian Theory

STEP 2

LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE MAIN COMPONENTS OF THE FIXED MINDSET

Part 5: Essentialism/Genetic Essentialism & Determinism in Previous Eras and in Modern Culture

Chapter 14. Essentialism & Determinism in Previous Eras

The History of Genetic Essentialism/Essentialism

A Brief History of Determinism

Chapter 15. Genetic Essentialism & Determinism in the 20thCentury

Genetic Essentialism & Biological Determinism in Modern Culture

The Advocates of the Importance of Nurture in the Early 20th Century

How Nazi Germany Influenced the Nature-Nurture Debate in the US

Another Prominent Deterministic Theory of Modern Culture Mainstream Science on Intelligence Leading Up to the 21st Century

Chapter 16. Freudian Theory in the 20th Century

The Early Rise and the Early Fall of Public Interest in Freudian Theory

Renewed Public Interest in the Theory

Chapter 17. Evidence of the Fixed Mindset & Related Beliefs in the New Millennium

How Individuals with the Fixed Mindset Tend to Influence Social Policy

Apparent Real World Evidence of the Fixed Mindset Affecting Social Policy

Evidence of Freudian Theory in the New Millennium Both Inside & Outside the Therapist’s Office

STEP 3

LEARN HOW MODERN SCIENCE OVERTURNED THE FIXED VIEW OF MAN & WHERE WE STAND TODAY

Part 6: Modern Science Overturns the Fixed View of Man

Chapter 18. How Modern Science Disproved the Claim That Intelligence Is Genetic

The Evolution of the Scientific View of Intelligence

The Role of Upbringing in Underprivileged Groups as Predictors of Intelligence and Overall Success

Has the Consensus of the Modern Scientific Community on Intelligence Really Shifted?

Understanding How Humans Learn

Rewiring the Brain via Mental Rehearsal

Chapter 19. How Modern Science Overturned the Deterministic Aspect of Freudian Theory

Reviews of Freudian Theory

Focusing on the Deterministic Aspect of Freudian Theory

Chapter 20. The Science of Personal Development in the New Millennium

STEP 4

LEARN EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR PERSONAL GROWTH

Part 7: Strategies for Overcoming Growth-Inhibiting Beliefs & Correcting Maladaptive Thought, Emotion & Behavior Patterns

Chapter 21. A Review of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Chapter 22. Details of the Mindset-Shift Intervention

How CBT Sometimes Falls Short

Dweck & Her Colleagues Prove It Is Possible to Shift Your Mindset

Chapter 23. A Review of the Best Goal Attainment Strategies

Assign Daily & Weekly Priorities

Assign Specifics to Goal-Related Tasks

Avoid Distractions and Arbitrary Activities

Try to Do It Right the First Time

Remember to Have Fun

Chapter 24. A Summary of the Key Expert Advice Covered

Suggestions for Shifting to the Growth Mindset Based on Material by Dweck & Her Colleagues

Suggestions for Goal Achievement Based on Material by Gollwitzer and His Colleagues

General Advice for Personal Development

STEP 5

LEARN HOW TO ENVISION YOUR IDEAL SELF/ENVIRONMENT, CREATE YOUR OWN GREAT ACTION PLAN & MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS

Part 8: Envision Your Ideal Self/Environment & Create Your Own Great Action Plan to Make It a Reality

Chapter 25. Envision Your Ideal Self & Your Ideal Environment

Existing Beliefs, Thoughts, Behaviors & Other Conditions That Conflict with Your Vision of Your Ideal Self

Chapter 26. How to Create Your Personal Great Action Plan

Your Personal Plan of Action Worksheet

Review Your Schedule for the Upcoming Week

Chapter 27. Create a Constructive Feedback Program & Monitor Your Progress

Feedback to Reward Successes Progress Monitoring Worksheet Learning from Your Mistakes

Remaining Resilient, Even When the Change Feels Permanent When to Seek Professional Assistance

Chapter 28. Using the Master & Mini Notebooks to Further Enhance Your Progress

The Master Notebook

The Mini Notebook

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Part 9: Looking to the Future

Chapter 29. Welcome to the New You

Chapter 30. What Kind of World Would It Be?

Appendix A: Biographies of Our Key Resources: Carol S. Dweck, PhD Peter M. Gollwitzer, PhD

Appendix B: Why People Tend to Resist New Information

Appendix C: Anecdotes of the Potential Impact of Mindset on Stages of Personal Growth

Appendix D: Mainstream Science on Intelligence

Appendix E: Synopsis of the Mindset-Shift Study

About the Authors

Glossary

Bibliography

References

This book is dedicated to all the children and adults of the world who have ever doubted their true potential. May you all pursue your goals of personal development with renewed fervor for the betterment of all of humankind.

Preface

First of all, we would like to thank you for taking some time to read our book. People are so busy these days that it can be tough to find the time to pursue things like personal development.

My co-author and I would like to take a moment to introduce ourselves, and explain how we came to write this book. My name is David Lowell, and I became interested in learning about the true potential of man after seeing licensed massage therapist Gertrud Lola, my co-author. She helped me for some time when my back was bothering me. Gertrud would consistently tell me about experts and scientific studies that were proving man has much more potential than people realize.

The things she was telling me were fascinating. Yet, when I began looking at the scientific reports myself, I found somewhat mixed results, especially with some of the older material. It seemed that there had been a major shift in the understanding of human development within the scientific community over the past decade or so. Prior to the new millennium, the scientific community largely supported a fixed view of personal growth (the so-called fixed mindset, which we explain in depth in this text).

However, I found that the majority of reputable scientists agree that the fixed view is inaccurate. So Gertrud and I think it is important to spread the word that there is a lot of misinformation out there that is hindering personal growth and needs to be updated.

Given the abundance of misinformation out there, it made me wonder “Why did the researchers of years past come to the wrong conclusion about human development and spread the misinformation in the first place?” Through my research, I discovered that scientists are sometimes highly influenced by their beliefs, regardless of whether or not there is scientific evidence to back them up. The earlier researchers were probably trying to prove or disprove the accuracy of the fixed view, but they lacked the technology to find conclusive evidence. As such, they were basically setting out to scientifically prove whatever they already believed to be true, and in the process, sometimes unintentionally skewed the results of their experiments. This lent false credibility to the fixed view of personal growth and promoted the fixed mindset.

The fact that sometimes scientists sometimes spread misinformation was surprising to me because previously I had assumed scientists were pretty unbiased and were in pursuit of the truth, regardless of their personal beliefs. I thought beliefs and doctrines were left to religious folks, and that scientists had figured out how to avoid being misled. As far as I knew, the scientific method and the peer review system, which are fundamental aspects of modern Western science, eliminated virtually all bias. After all, it was the elimination of bias which makes Western science a superior approach to understanding the world.

To be clear, there are a few outlying scientists who continue to retain the old view. However, what intrigues me is not the fact that there are outliers with inaccurate views, but rather how much publicity the misinformation continues to receive. We can guess as to the reason the old view continues to remain popular (despite the mountain of scientific evidence that proves it is incorrect). Given the fact that the fixed view greatly hinders personal growth throughout all stages of life, its promotion probably has something to do with the common pursuit of wealth and the struggle for survival. Perhaps those in the know wish to keep the secret to success from getting out in order to reduce competition. No matter what the reason is, though, the fixed mindset continues to endure in modern Western society at the expense of human progress.

With Gertrud’s help, I had set out to discover why most people maintain the fixed mindset despite the recommendations of modern science, and to pave the way to higher levels of performance for all. We elected to base our approach primarily on the findings of one prominent researcher, a professor of psychology at Stanford University (whom we will present in the Introduction), and her colleagues. Over the past few decades, the team of researchers has conducted numerous studies aimed at shedding light when and why people succeed and how it is linked to the fixed mindset. Most importantly, she scientifically confirmed that all individuals can shift their mindset and dramatically improve their performance as a result.

Commentary by Gertrud Lola

Gertrud Lola offers insight based on her own experiences:

***

Commentary by Gertrud Lola

My name is Gertrud Lola and I have been studying alternative medicine and cures for 28 years.

Some people call me a healer, golden hands, a light being and names as such. I have helped deliver babies and witnessed other miracles such as spontaneous lung cancer remission’s, allergies disappearing, and a person re-growing their spleen. And yet I have buried others with similar “dis-eases.”

The final control lies in you. Your biology, your body, is limited in its healing capacity by your belief system, both conscious and subconscious.Our body is able to produce amazing chemicals, regenerate bone and other tissues. Epigenetics is rewriting everything we once thought we knew about genes.

What if the religions from around the world, the gurus, and the sages were right all along and we are set up to self-heal?

They are!

***

On that note, let us begin with an introduction to the work.

Introduction

Here we present an overview of the work, and in the process, explain why this book is different (in a revolutionary way) from the rest of its genre. This text is a personal development book designed for people who have seen and heard a lot about personal development, and have tried some techniques, but are thus far disappointed with the results. These individuals think they may be capable of more than what they are seeing, but for some reason, are just not able to realize their true potential.

Our work is based largely on a theory put forth by a world-renowned researcher named Carol Dweck, PhD. She is a Yale University alumnus and has about three decades of experience in the field. Below is her biography on Amazon.com1, which is substantiated by her profile on the Stanford University website.

***

Biography for Carol Dweck, PhD

Carol S. Dweck, PhD, is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology. She has been the William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and is now the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences…

Source: Amazon.com (excerpt)

***

The work of Dweck and her team is based on their discovery that most people in the US maintain the fixed mindset without even knowing it, and are hindered by inaccurate beliefs. The importance of beliefs in the personal development process is well-recognized in the scientific community — in fact it is a fundamental theory of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), one of the most successful types of therapy in practice today.

Dweck broke new ground a few years ago with her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success _](2007), which as of this writing is rated one of the top books in “Applied Psychology” and self-help books about “Success” on [_Amazon’s website. The book suggested that people typically have one of two mindsets: the “fixed mindset” or the “growth mindset”, and that the fixed mindset is an incredible hindrance to personal growth. How common is the fixed mindset? She found that it is actually quite common, especially in the United States. Based on her research, she concluded that the majority of Americans have the fixed mindset.

This was an incredible discovery since modern mainstream science has confirmed time and time again over the last decade or so that the fixed mindset is an inaccurate view of the world. Dweck and her team further astounded the scientific community and the general public when Dweck announced that people with the fixed mindset could shift to what she calls the “growth mindset.” And not only did the numerous study participants change their mindset, but their performance improved dramatically as well. Specifics on how she and her colleagues accomplished this feat will be given in a later section, but basically they engaged fixed-mindset participants in an intervention program. Armed with enough information to challenge their previous view, most of the participants exhibited positive changes in both their perspective and performance.

Using Dweck’s research as a starting point, in this book we set out to emulate the intervention program that she and her colleagues used in their studies to successfully change the mindset of numerous fixed-mindset individuals. You will note that the exact procedure for overcoming the fixed mindset is not discussed explicitly in Dweck’s book. Instead, she begins by explaining that the scientific community agrees that the fixed view is inaccurate, and offers many examples of people benefitting from the realization to convey the message.

But as laymen (nonscientists) reading the book, it struck Gertrud and me that a deeper examination may be needed. We need to first recognize that science has greatly shifted its understanding of personal development, especially over the past decade or so. We should point out here that while it may be surprising how much science has changed its understanding of human development, that it makes sense against the background of just about everything in science changing dramatically over the years. After all, even the scientific understanding of the atom has changed from being a tiny ball of matter to an entity consisting of tiny particles and 99% void space.

Likewise with regard to personal development, prior to the new millennium, a fair amount of scientific material was published that continued support the fixed mindset. So we wondered what discoveries caused the scientific community to finally reject the fixed view with complete confidence. Gertrud and I found that there were several discoveries which met this criterion. We discuss each of them and how they helped to shape the new view of human development, as well as elaborate on why inaccurate views of man continue to be so popular within the general public. We believe that the details of the recent scientific discoveries are critical to changing the layman’s view of himself and of mankind in general.

The purpose of this text, then, is to give you all the tools that were provided to the study participants as part of the intervention program in order to be more successful in life overall. This includes an examination of the scientific progress over the last several hundred years in order to clarify why so many people have misperceptions about human development. We also present a wealth of information based on the investigations performed by numerous other scientists and researchers to give you a well-rounded understanding of the subject matter. Plus, we provide numerous worksheets to guide you through the process. Of course for the mindset shift to be complete, we encourage you to engage in person-to-person interaction with others that are making the shift as well. The book, itself, cannot provide this interaction, but you can spread the word with your peers and interact with other people online via our Twitter and FaceBook pages.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Goal(s) of This Section

• for you to learn about the problem, the primary cause and our proposed solution

• for you to learn why your beliefs are important, and learn how they are formed and reinforced by the human experience

• for you to learn about the modern paradigm and how it may affect your beliefs, thus your ability to realize your true potential

Let us first offer a few notes on format. Definitions are provided upon the first mention of any terms that are not commonly found in colloquial language, or have a particular meaning in this text. In the back is a glossary in case you do not recall any definitions while reading. A table of references is provided with referenced web pages whenever appropriate, as is customary.

Secondly, we wish to point out the fact that, with the exception of Chapter 5, there is a summary page at the end of each chapter through Chapter 22. This is because although Gertrud and I find all of the material contained in this text to be quite interesting, we understand that not everyone is completely enthralled with every fine detail. So if you find yourself getting bogged down at any point or lost in the details, just know that the important points are summed up at the end of the chapter. On the other hand, if you are a person who enjoys details, there is plenty of additional information located in the appendices that help support this text.

Thirdly, we would like to suggest that you procure a couple of materials. You will need a pen (or pencil) and a notebook to make notes in as you read. The summary page at the end of each chapter is a good point to pause for a minute to jot down anything you want to make a note of. In addition, we offer several sample worksheets and we encourage you to copy them over into the notebook and fill them out. You will note that these are just samples and you can modify them however you like. Be sure to include the title of the worksheets so they are easy to reference later on, and even after you finish reading the book. Later, you will also need a mini notebook, something you can carry on your person at all times. We will explain the use of the mini notebook in one of the final chapters.

Now that we have the format issues out of the way, and have mentioned the materials you will need, we are ready to start our journey.

***

Whether you are struggling in life, or are already doing fairly well for yourself — but want to take it to the next level — this book is for you. Generally speaking, our audience consists of people who have sincerely tried to improve themselves in the past, but thus far are still dissatisfied with the results. In reality, no matter how successful you are in life, you are always capable of improving yourself in one way or another.

Some personal development books try to offer a very detailed program to help the reader improve himself without including the reader in the program development process. This book is not like that. While we do give you the blueprint for a successful personal development program (which is based on the insights of experts), the bulk of the program design is done by you. The program [+needs +]to be designed by you. After all, how can we know you better than you know yourself? Assuming personal development is a one-size-fits-all endeavor seems simply impractical.

As mentioned in the Preface, I wrote this text with the help of my good friend and licensed massage therapist (LMT), Gertrud Lola. During treatments for my occasional muscle pain, she reminded me that we, as a civilization, have yet to understand the full breadth of the potential of man, and backed up her comments with recent scientific studies. Inspired by her suggestions, I sought the scientific evidence she was referring to and wanted to learn what other experts had to say about it. After conducting much of my own research (using the findings of Dweck and her colleagues as a guide), I found that the bulk of the results were quite positive.

Before we go any further, though, I would ask that you engage in a short exercise. Using the following worksheet as a template, please try to identify a few things about yourself that you have tried to change for the better, but were unsuccessful for some reason. This could be learning a new skill or trade, or ending your engagement in a bad habit. Now below each item listed, please note the reason you were unsuccessful at making the change as well.

So for instance, say I wanted to save money to buy something I want or need. And it’s been a fairly long time since I set that goal, and I have not been successful. My attempt to save money would go on the first line of our worksheet. Below that line item, I would put the reason(s) I have not been successful. Then I would do the same for the second goal I was unable to achieve, etc. Once you have listed a few attempted changes and reasons for the lack of success, you can read on.

***

Statement of Attempted Changes & Reasons for Falling Short

Attempted Change #1:

***

Reason(s) that I was unsuccessful in making Change #1:

***

Attempted Change #2:

***

Reason(s) that I was unsuccessful in making Change #2:

***

Next, you will want to take a close look at the reasons you provided in the above worksheet. Since most people have the fixed mindset (at least in the US, and probably other countries in the West as well), it is highly likely that your responses in this exercise will show signs of the fixed mindset. So in our example, I said that I attempted to save money. Let’s say the reason I was unsuccessful with saving money in this instance is that throughout my whole life, I’ve never been good at managing my finances. Put another way, I’ve always been bad at money. The terms “never” and “always” are actually signs of something psychologists call “black and white thinking,” which we will talk about later on in the text. Perhaps you have these words on your worksheet or use these words in your daily life (maybe not even consciously). You’ll want to circle these terms so they stand out whenever you revisit this worksheet.

Now you might not have written words like “never” or “always” when you put the reasons you were unsuccessful. Like in our example, I could have written “I’m just not good with money.” Even so, it’s important to note that embedded in the claim that I’m not good with money is the assumption that I cannot gain this skill. This is a belief about an inherent lack of ability – one that I may have learned during childhood. Maybe my parents were not able to manage their finances well, so I figure I somehow inherited their disability. Or maybe I was not good at math in school, and being that money is related to doing math, I think I can never learn to manage money well.

We’ll be revisiting this worksheet later on in the text to use as a learning tool. But for now, suffice it to say that the problem most people have in trying to realize their true potential is that they continue to maintain inaccurate beliefs. The so-called “reasons” we are not able to make positive changes are not true reason, but rather are beliefs we maintain about ourselves and our abilities.

Most people (at least in America) believe they were born with a certain level of intelligence (I.Q) and a certain set of skills/abilities. They presume these characteristics can remain somewhat hidden during early childhood. But if a child has not shown any signs of a higher I.Q. or skill/ability by the time he enters school, and certainly by the time he becomes an adult, he probably is incapable of ever developing them.

As we will discuss, beliefs are very powerful. They can mean the difference between success and failure throughout our entire lives. Inaccurate beliefs are likely to lead to bad habits, or as behavioral counselors call “maladaptive thought and behavior patterns.” In addition, beliefs can be rather tricky to change. Sometimes people are unaware they hold certain beliefs because they were adopted during the childhood years. Perhaps the beliefs were learned from a parent or guardian or teacher at school told, and once they were learned, they were never questioned as an adult.

Although beliefs can be rather tricky to change, this book will give you the firepower you need to make it happen. Our approach to helping you to overcome your inaccurate beliefs about your potential emulates an intervention program that has proved to be highly successful. The program consists of five steps: 1) learn how your mindset is influenced by old popular beliefs; 2) learn about the history of the main components of the fixed mindset; 3) learn how modern science overturned the fixed view of man; 4) learn effective strategies for personal growth; and 5) learn how to envision your ideal self/environment, create your own great action plan, and monitor your progress.

Of course finishing this book will not guarantee that you will become a genius or a virtuoso at whatever craft you pursue. But you will have an idea of the signs to look for when you are sabotaging yourself. The internal monolog you engage in as you approach each new challenge, as you work your way through it, and after you either fail or succeed is an important part of the development process. As you can imagine in our example where I said I was unsuccessful at saving money, I am probably going to sabotage myself if I continue having the same thoughts as I have in the past. So when I have an opportunity to put money aside for something I want or need, I’m likely to figure it is not worth the effort because I’ll never succeed anyway.

Now that you know that you have the fixed mindset and we have summarized our approach, let’s take a closer look at the problems it can cause (maladaptive thought and behavior patterns) and the solution.

Part 1: The Problem, Its Cause & the Solution

Chapter 1. Feeling like You Are Unable to Realize Your True Potential

So you have some bad habits that you want to break, or you feel like you are not as successful as you could be. If you are like most people today, you are probably working as hard as you can just to pay the bills and keep your family clothed and fed. Under such conditions, it can be difficult to take time to figure out how to work smarter rather than harder. But it is something that needs to be done.

You might feel as though you are the hardest working person in America (and maybe you are), but the fact is that many Americans are working too hard and not seeing much in the way of rewards. We all have our morning routine to get ready for work, then we work like dogs for nine hours per day or more. This is followed by a night routine of eating dinner, cleaning up and getting ready for bed, and tending to our families all the while.

The routine is intense and one often questions “What is the point of all of it?” It is really no wonder that so many of us get depressed! We might get one hour or so per week to meet with friends or go to religious services where we think of something besides work and chores. There is very little time for recreation or endeavors related to personal growth. Instead, we are caught up with our personal concerns: work, personal finances, disputes with our friends and family, our cravings and addictions, worrying about our health, etc. While we hope things will be better tomorrow, most of us see little improvement each day…and we tend to get discouraged.

Disability and Depression in America

Disability and depression are major issues around the globe. But these issues are particularly apparent in America and in wealthier countries where one would think health and happiness would come rather easily. Surprisingly, generally speaking, we are not thriving in these areas. In 2011, the total number of disabled workers and dependents in America was over 10 million, which is a 250% increase since 1987. The situation is even worse for [+children +] over the same period of time, showing a 3500% increase! The statistics on depression in America and some of our Western neighbors are just as terrifying.

The Nation’s Dependency on Medication

Medication has become a sort of cure-all in America. Some of the reason for this is that we are a scientifically advanced society, and we tend to only trust things we can physically see, touch, taste, etc. In contrast to alternative medicine, prescribing medications is a straight-forward practice: if you have Problem X, you take Pill Y a certain number of times per day for a certain number of days to fix the problem.

Years ago, it was a simple system. People paid good money for health insurance, and the insurance companies liked prescriptions because they had proven results. Unfortunately, however, the number of prescriptions issued each year keeps rising, as does the cost per prescription.

In addition, we all know pharmaceuticals are not the only drugs on the market. In 2006, the White House issued a report2 estimating that another $100 billion was spent on the combination of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. One would imagine this amount has increased over the last several years, as well. To this we also need to add about $150 billion spent on alcohol, plus the countless legal and illegal drugs not captured under any of the above-stated categories.

It is obvious that Americans believe medication helps…and to some extent, it probably does. At the same time, we must ask ourselves the following questions: “Are all of these drugs really necessary?”, “Which ones are helping us and which ones are hurting us?” and “Are some homeopathic remedies being overlooked only because there is less profit in them?”

The pharmaceutical companies certainly contribute to the problem through advertising, but why else would consumers tend to not consider other options first? Perhaps it all ties back to our faith in modern medicine to cure all of our ails, no matter how extreme the treatment is. Of course there are extenuating circumstances where people have tried nonconventional methods and they do not work, or it’s an emergency situation, and there is no time to test other options. Nonetheless, it seems reasonable to conclude that something is wrong when the US consumes about half of the world’s prescription drugs.

Western Culture: Consistently Living in Survival Mode

People in Western culture, particularly in the US, are working harder than ever just to keep up with the weekly bills. Many of us are working so hard that we are not even thinking clearly. Some people have to take stimulants during the day to keep up with the race, and then depressants at night to help them to fall asleep. The stimulants help them to think and act quicker, but the fast pace seems to cause them to burn out faster, as well. On that point, it should be noted that studies (e.g., Sanders, 20143) show that prolonged stressful activity can lead to illness. Also, thinking and acting quicker does not necessarily mean our quick thoughts and actions are productive. For example, one can drink a lot of coffee at work, and end up needing to re-do everything because it was done poorly while in a rush. The level of activity (both mental and physical) can become so high that it is the equivalent of trying to function in panic mode.

Many people in Western culture seem to be in borderline panic mode almost all the time. It is a mode of survival — designed to get us out of harm’s way as quickly as possible. And while it typically helps us to avert disasters when we do not have time for a lengthy assessment of the options, survival mode also means we skip the more thorough contemplation process. A person in survival mode is usually not able to properly absorb the information he is given to make good decisions. In lieu of making good decisions, he will probably have to work harder for longer periods of time. If the individual is unable to move out of survival mode, it stands to reason that he would soon become worn out.

To counteract the common tendency to live in survival mode 24/7, it would probably behoove us to put together a plan of action to work smarter instead of harder. We all have extremely busy lives, so finding the time to put a plan together may pose its challenges. But if we are successful, the benefits should be multi-fold.

Summary

If you’re overworked, not feeling well, and struggling to find ways to improve yourself, it turns out you’re in good company here in the US. We spout off a few facts and figures about just how high the levels of depression, disability and drug use are in this country (and our Western neighbors appear to be in a similar situation). It seems that many people are medicating themselves just to get by each day in this crazy rat race.

Chapter 2. Identifying the Problem & Its Primary Cause (the Fixed Mindset)

In this chapter, we will identify: 1) what the main problem is for people who are having trouble changing their unhealthy habits and realizing their true potential; 2) what the most common cause of the problem is; and 3) the solution.

Identifying the Problem

If a person is dissatisfied with his current life situation, and it does not appear that the things in the external environment are going to change any time soon, it seems only reasonable to look within to see if any change is possible. Perhaps there are things, then, about ourselves we can change that will make us feel better.

When we look to the experts for insight as to what the problem might be, some of them tell us it lies in negative thinking — so all we need to do is think positive. Yet, for some reason, we seem to be continuously reminded of the facts (at least we believe them to be facts). We wake up each morning basically feeling the same as we did the day before. As much as we try to create positive changes in our life, progress can be slow, and we constantly wonder if this is as good as it gets.

After people read several self-help books, and try to implement the suggested strategies but do not see the results they want, they often consider getting help from a counselor or consider some other form of therapy. The most popular form of therapy in the West for this sort of issue is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is defined as follows4:

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Definition of “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: form of psychotherapy that blends strategies from traditional behavioral treatments with various cognitively oriented strategies. It is different from other forms of psychotherapy (e.g., traditional psychodynamic psychotherapies) in that the focus of treatment is on changing the maladaptive thought patterns, feelings, and behaviours that are believed to be maintaining a problem, rather than on helping a client to gain insight into early developmental factors that may have set the stage for the problem.

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

CBT is used to treat individuals who 1) are depressed; 2) have thoughts or emotions that hinder personal growth; 3) engage in behaviors that hinder personal growth; and/or 4) suffer from other similar neuroses.

CBT practitioners classify all of the above conditions as being related to a single problem. In short, the problem is maladaptive thought and behavior patterns, patterns that often include the mismanagement of emotions. The patterns are said to be “maladaptive” because they’re the culmination of improper adaptations to conditions over the course of a person’s life. In layman’s terms, these patterns could be classified as bad habits — counterproductive habitual thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When left untreated, they create a cyclical effect where one activity seems to lead naturally to another. This cyclical effect of bad habits can give an individual the false impression that there is no cure.

Identifying the Primary Cause

According to CBT, the cause of maladaptive thought and behavior patterns is inaccurate beliefs. It is the consensus of the scientific community that inaccurate beliefs provoke people to think and act in ways that inhibit personal growth.

One example of the type of inaccurate beliefs that CBT targets is “black and white thinking” (which you might have exhibited on first worksheet in BACKGROUND INFORMATION). When an individual engages in black and white thinking, people, things, and events are viewed as being constant in nature. Examples of black and white thinking are: I am [+always +]late for work, [+nobody +]loves me, etc. When a person thinks of aspects of himself and his environment as being universal and unchanging, he is more likely to think and act in ways that will maintain this perspective. The CBT approach attempts to change those thought and behavior patterns by informing the client that his view of life in black and white is inaccurate. By engaging the client in a variety of exercises, and by teaching the client how to catch himself when he slips into the old patterns, the counselor guides the client into the adoption of more productive patterns.

World-renowned researcher Carol Dweck, PhD of Stanford University (see her bio in the Introduction) takes identifying the primary cause one step further than simply pointing to inaccurate beliefs. She informs us that when it comes to inaccurate beliefs — namely those pertaining to human potential — people typically fall under one of two categories. She named the categories the “fixed mindset” and the “growth mindset.” We see the difference between the two below5.

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The Difference between the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset (According to Carol S. Dweck, PhD)

Mindset (Fixed versus Growth): a state of mind that is based on the belief that one’s qualities -- namely those pertaining to an individual’s intelligence, skill sets, and thought and behavior patterns -- are either carved in stone (fixed mindset) or can be cultivated through one’s efforts (growth mindset).

Source: Mindset… (paraphrased)

***

Dweck found that having the fixed mindset was an incredible hindrance to personal development. In a study6 that illustrates this fact, she and her colleagues first prequalified individuals as either having the fixed or growth mindset, and grouped together the like-mindset individuals. The researchers then tested the two groups of people to compare and contrast how they acted and reacted in various situations. They found that people with the fixed mindset often shied away from challenging experiences (challenging puzzles, for instance) due to the fear of the humiliation of being exposed as unintelligent and unskilled. In contrast, individuals with the growth mindset welcomed challenging experiences. People with the growth mindset enjoyed the challenge because they believed they could potentially learn from the experiences, and thereby become smarter and more skilled. We will explore this study in greater depth later on.

As we have alluded to, the impact of the fixed mindset is much greater than the avoidance of challenging tests. Whereas a person with the growth mindset tends to continuously seek new challenges, learn from them, and become smarter and more skilled over the course of his life, a person with the fixed mindset tends to do the opposite: continuously avoiding challenges and seeking more comfortable situations. Furthermore, if and when he does take up a challenge (either voluntarily or involuntarily), he is likely to make note of the feedback on his performance…and to assume that this is an indication of the extent of his abilities. The fixed mindset individual tends to believe that his skill sets, behaviors, intelligence, etc., can never be enhanced.

Due to the above, Dweck hypothesized that the fixed mindset contributes significantly to people’s lack of success in life overall, and proved this to be true in numerous long-term studies.

How Common Is the Fixed Mindset?

If the fixed mindset poses such a hindrance, it is fair to ask, “How common is the fixed mindset?” In a multipart study7 , Dweck and her colleagues set out to determine the answer to this question with regard to the American population. The study would also establish whether the fixed mindset was a natural part of the human condition, or if it was culture- specific. To accomplish these goals, they tested people in America and people in India and compared their beliefs about the malleability of human intelligence. Their findings are as follows:

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Why the Common American View of Intelligence Is Different (Findings of a Study Comparing Americans to People of India)

Studies 1-3 found that whereas both beliefs [fixed and malleable intelligence] are present in the United States and in India, a majority of Indians tended to believe that most people have the potential to become highly intelligent, but a majority of Americans tended to believe that only some individuals have this potential.

Source: “Can everyone become highly intelligent?…” (excerpt)

***

As we see, the researchers concluded that the majority of Americans view intelligence as a fixed characteristic, whereas in India, the majority of people view intelligence as a malleable characteristic. The fact that our view is not shared around the world indicates that it is not simply human nature to view man as a fixed entity — but rather this view is specific to individuals, and is more prominent in certain cultures.

Do You Have the Fixed Mindset?

You are probably wondering, then, whether or not you have the fixed mindset. In order to find out, you are welcome to take the quick test Dweck offers (a copy of it is provided below). The test contains a few questions, and Dweck instructs her readers to read each statement and decide if they mostly agree with it or disagree with it. Note: for statements related to your beliefs about intelligence, you can also substitute artistic talent, sports ability, or business skill.

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A Test for the Fixed Mindset (Suggested by Carol Dweck, PhD)

For each statement, state whether you mostly agree or disagree:

1) Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.

2) You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.

3) No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.

4) You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

5) You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.

6) No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.

7) You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.

8) You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.

Source: Mindset… (excerpts)

***

If you mostly agreed with statement numbers 1, 2, 5, and 7, this would suggest that you have the fixed mindset. If you mostly agreed with statements 3, 4, 6, and 8, this would suggest that you have the growth mindset.

Dweck informs us that it is possible for a person to have a mixture of the two mindsets, but most people typically favor one or the other. It is also possible to have a fixed mindset with regard to your intelligence, but a more malleable view of your other characteristics. 8

Summary

While the term “maladaptive thought and behavior patterns” may sound complex, it’s really just how scientists refer to the condition of thinking and acting in ways that are below one’s true level of potential.

The most common form of therapy for the above is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—therapy for cognition (thoughts) and behaviors. The aim of this type of therapy is to restore thought and behavior patterns to higher levels. The only problem is that CBT assumes the client has performed at his optimum level some time previously, which may not in fact be the case. Perhaps the client is capable of things he has never done before. In such cases, CBT will probably not achieve optimum results.

To address this issue, Carol Dweck, PhD suggests that people reconsider their view of human potential. Most people view human potential as a fixed characteristic—something that can’t be cultivated—and they don’t even know they have this view of themselves. By considering that human potential can be cultivated, individuals can do great things. The trick is getting people to change their beliefs.

Chapter 3. Identifying the Solution (Switching to the Growth Mindset)

When addressing maladaptive thought and behavior patterns, the preferred method of treatment for the past few decades has been CBT because of its high success rate. Dweck informs us that in CBT treatment sessions, the counselor will usually attempt to enlighten the client that his beliefs are inaccurate, and that his inaccurate beliefs are affecting his thought and behavior patterns.

For example, a client might begin therapy because he feels depressed. After being asked why he thinks he is depressed, the client explains to the counselor that nothing goes right in his life, and he believes the reason is that he is incapable of making good decisions. In response, the counselor would try to get the client to change his beliefs about himself by getting him to think about how he viewed himself back when he made good decisions. The counselor would then inform the client that this is proof that he is in fact capable of making good decisions — he did so in the past, so he can do it again. 9

CBT is typically used to mitigate recently-developed or ongoing bad habits and mental conditions (such as depression) in order to restore the client to a state that he had previously attained, but from which he had since deteriorated. Often, part of this treatment is to help the client to gain a more positive view of himself. Note that restoring an individual to prior conditions of higher performance is not a perfect science. There may be some old behaviors that the client may need to modify: coping mechanisms and such. However, by restoring the more positive view of himself, he will be better equipped to refine those bad habits.

Why the Typical Approach Sometimes Fails

Although CBT has been implemented for several decades in the West, and is now recognized as the most successful technique presently in use, Dweck points out that it still has room for improvement. She agrees that CBT is an incredible tool, but states its shortfall lies in the fact that it does not address a fundamental aspect of the individual’s belief system: his mindset.

To be specific, CBT overlooks the client’s view of himself as a fixed entity. We see this oversight in the fact that CBT begins with encouraging the client (who thinks of himself as a poor performer) to think of a time in the past when he performed well. The next step is to encourage the client to think of himself in that light once again, as a person who performs well.

Dweck suggests that the problem is not the client’s view of himself as either a good performer or a poor performer. Instead, the problem lies in the fact that the client views man’s potential as a [+fixed +]characteristic. The client believes he can only be restored to some previous level of functioning — a level that can never be surpassed. As such, he is left struggling with the same old bad habits and is left feeling like he lacks talent in certain areas.

In contrast to using the typical approach, by helping the client switch to the growth mindset, he is better able to stop bad habits and cultivate his abilities to a degree he never experienced before.

Studies on Adolescents Demonstrate That It Is Possible to Overcome the Fixed Mindset

Dweck proposed that people typically have either the fixed mindset or the growth mindset and proved through her research proposed that one’s mindset can play a major role in lifelong personal growth and overall success. But she also discovered that it is completely possible for individuals with the fixed mindset to shift to the growth mindset.

She made this determination after she and her colleagues conducted several more studies and personally witnessed the change in the mindset of the numerous adolescent participants. She and her colleagues were successful in accomplishing this feat by engaging the participants in a series of sessions involving: 1) discussions on people surprising themselves at how well they could perform new tasks; 2) discussions on how much they could improve their performance on a task that they could already perform well; and 3) tests designed to illustrate that a person can perform better than he believes he is capable.

How Adults Can Overcome the Fixed Mindset

Dweck and her colleagues performed an extensive amount of research to arrive at the conclusion that all people with the fixed mindset can, in fact, overcome it. Yet, while it has been proven to be possible, there is also the possibility that making the shift may be rather difficult for a grown adult, as opposed to a child or adolescent. There are two main reasons for this, as explained below.

First of all, prior to about twenty years ago, the scientific community didn’t quite have enough evidence to completely overturn the entity theory of man (scientists’ version of the fixed mindset). Of course that has since changed, but it is for this reason that many of today’s adults — having ended their education in the sciences in high school decades prior — were raised to believe that these characteristics are unchangeable. Even many scientists at the time believed that your genes and your upbringing determined who you are, and there was nothing you could do about it.

Since that time, scientists have confirmed that new circuits can actually be wired in the brain, and that even genes (or rather their expressions) can change in accordance with environmental stimuli. Scientists began to adopt a view of man as being an unpredictable specimen. These new developments disproved once and for all the common perception that man’s characteristics are fixed. But, so too did they turn on its head the notion that man’s overall success in life could be predicted by the time he had matured into an adult. Given that these developments were confirmed only fairly recently, however, unless the layman continued to research these topics, it stands to reason that he would still be working off the old blueprints, so to speak.

The second reason adults may have some difficulty changing their mindset is the fact that the older person’s brain has repeatedly engaged in certain thought and behavior patterns. To be specific, most adults tend to change their views about the world rather infrequently and to a lesser degree than children do. They have routines of getting up at the same time, doing the same things at work each day, etc. As such, the adult’s brain has established much more durable connections than their counterparts, which makes the unproductive habits somewhat more difficult to break.

Granted, adults may need to work a little harder than children do to change their inaccurate beliefs…but the mission is far from impossible. It simply means that the adult will probably need some additional background information on why his present beliefs are no longer valid. Also, he will not only need to learn and understand this background information, but he will need to [+believe +]what modern science is now telling us: man is fully capable of change (and the old concept of man having fixed attributes is completely inaccurate). If these efforts are [+not +]made, one could very well be unknowingly sabotaging himself in everything he does, which could prevent him from realizing his true potential.

All of the above translates into a situation where, if you feel that you are unable to realize your true potential because you question your abilities, there is a completely viable reason for your questions. The reason has nothing to do with your actual abilities, but rather has to do with your beliefs. You probably believe (maybe even subconsciously) your abilities/behaviors are incapable of being cultivated, and such beliefs were once substantiated to some degree by science. The good news is that these beliefs have since been proven to be false. The truth is that you can realize a higher level of potential, and this is done by correcting inaccurate beliefs. Modern science has proven this approach to be quite successful, thus it is the approach we will use in this text.

Summary

We start getting into the meat and potatoes here about how we intend to help you address the problem of inaccurate beliefs. Often, when people are struggling to overcome bad habits and feel that they are just not working to their potential, they go to see a counselor (if they have insurance or can afford it on their own). Counselors usually treat people with such issues using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The term CBT might sound complicated, but it’s really just a means to treat the unproductive ways people think and act.

Generally speaking, CBT works quite well, but it doesn’t address everything. After treatment, many people feel considerably better, however, some continue to struggle and never realize their true potential. The reason is that CBT does not treat the underlying issue: your overall understanding of the nature of human potential (your mindset).

We clarify that people typically have either the fixed mindset or the growth mindset. The fixed mindset is a limited view of human potential while the growth mindset gives you greater flexibility. We provide an exercise to figure out which mindset you have, and explain that it’s possible to switch to the growth mindset. The details of how to make the switch are covered in a later section.

Chapter 4. Why Growth-Inhibiting Beliefs Are So Common in Modern Western Culture

When Dweck and her colleagues studied random samples of Americans, they found that the fixed mindset is extremely common. So it begs the question, “If the fixed mindset is an incorrect view of the world, why do so many people share this view?” The purpose of this chapter, then, is to answer that question. We find that the fixed mindset is reinforced in modern culture by two main beliefs. Both of them were at one time shared by a fair number of people within the scientific community. But the scientific community has since firmly rejected these old beliefs based on conclusive evidence. And the rest of society just hasn’t caught up to the scientists’ perspective.

The Modern Source of the Fixed Mindset

So why do so many people in modern society have the fixed mindset? This comes down to a matter of beliefs, beliefs that can be traced back through the ages. To that end, Dweck offers the following insight10:

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The Age-Old Debate of Nature versus Nurture

Since the dawn of time, people have thought differently, acted differently, and fared differently from each other. It was guaranteed that someone would ask the question of why people differed -- why some people are smarter or more moral–and whether there was something that made them permanently different. Experts lined up on both sides. Some claimed that there was a strong physical basis for these differences, making them unavoidable and unalterable. Through the ages these alleged physical differences have included bumps on the skull (phrenology), the size and shape of the skull (craniology), and, today, genes.

Others pointed to the strong differences in people’s backgrounds, experiences, training, or ways of learning…

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

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With regard to the reason you originally established and continue to maintain your own beliefs, as Dweck suggests above, you were probably educated according to whichever school of thought happened to be prominent at the time. As you received more and more information about human potential and your own abilities, you would have used this information as a basis to formulate beliefs about personal development. And these beliefs have probably significantly affected your growth throughout your life without you even knowing it.

The fixed mindset is extremely common today because it is the culmination of two very common doctrines. The applicable definition of “doctrine” is provided below11.

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Definition of “Doctrine”

Doctrine: a group of ideas or beliefs that are considered to be true.

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We use the term “doctrine” to refer to these ideas and beliefs, whereas the layman might refer to them as theories. But, since the term “theory” has a specific connotation in science, we will reserve that term for tested and confirmed scientific hypotheses.

The first has to do with ability and the second with predictability. As alluded to above, for thousands of years, people have debated intensely over man’s abilities (as in how to figure out who has what abilities) and whether or not those abilities can change over time (as in their predictability). And the shifting opinions regarding questions about man’s abilities and their predictability have probably greatly influenced the advancement of human civilization through the ages.

Of course we should note that over the course of history, the common man was probably spending most of his time working and wasn’t able to spend endless hours philosophizing and debating about human potential. These activities would have been left more to the elite and academics, who were considering how to structure the society they each lived in.

Fortunately, at this point, modern science is able to offer conclusive evidence to help resolve the debate and overturn the old doctrines. The first doctrine that lies at the heart of the fixed mindset pertains to ability and is referred to as “genetic essentialism.” Genetic essentialism is defined as11:

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Definition of “Genetic Essentialism”

Genetic Essentialism: …[A reduction of] the self to a molecular entity, equating human beings, in all their social, historical, and moral complexity, with their genes.

Source: “The DNA mystique: the gene as a cultural icon” (excerpt)

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Genetic essentialism is the belief that all of your characteristics are fixed assets. The doctrine views human characteristics as being fixed assets because it links them to genes, and likewise assumes genes are unchanging.

The genetic essentialist view is a modified version of a doctrine that was popular in the West, both among scientists and the rest of the general public, up until about 400 years ago. Today, (with the exception of scientists) most people in the West still believe their characteristics can’t change because they are somehow linked to the essence of their being via their genes. Modern science conclusively proved this view of man is incorrect, and we will discuss this discovery in later chapters.

The second fundamental doctrine has to do with predictability and is called “determinism.” Determinism is defined as follows12:

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Definition of “Determinism”

Determinism: in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes…

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

The doctrine of determinism was a belief that was commonly adopted by members of the scientific community as well as by members of the general public beginning about 400 years ago. Today, the belief in determinism is common among laypeople, but is basically nonexistent among members of the modern scientific community.

However, as we glance through scientific writings of the past, we find determinism continued to be fairly popular in some disciplines through the mid-20th century. For example, most physicists continued to uphold the doctrine until the development of quantum theory in the early 20th century. The majority of biologists held on until the mid-20th century (with the exception of the eugenicists, who will be discussed in a later chapter), and the same could be said for psychologists (with the exception of Freudian theorists, who will also be discussed later). But regardless of its application, determinism is a belief in predictability. It is the belief that if we know the conditions of the past (heredity, upbringing, etc.), we will be able to accurately predict man’s abilities over the course of his life.

Today, most people in the West believe that their physical characteristics (namely their intelligence, talents, behaviors, etc.) are highly predictable. That is to say that they believe their performance in the future can be accurately predicted based on their genetic makeup and their upbringing. It is important to point out, however, that many people are not even aware of the fact that they believe such things. Nonetheless, like the doctrine of genetic essentialism, modern science conclusively proved this view of man is also incorrect. And we will discuss this discovery in later chapters.

As you can see, modern scientists have made much progress, particularly with regard to proving the malleability and unpredictability of man. The scientific community has reached a consensus that man is a malleable creature, and his behaviors/abilities remain unpredictable throughout his life. Dweck concludes:

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The Resolution of the Age-Old Debate of Nature versus Nurture

Who’s right? Today most experts agree that it’s not either/or. It’s not nature or nurture, genes or environment. From conception on, there’s a constant give and take between the two. In fact, as Gilbert Gottlieb, an eminent neuroscientist put it, not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes require input from the environment to work properly.

At the same time, scientists are learning that people have more capacity for life-long learning and brain development than they ever thought. Of course, each person has a unique genetic endowment. People may start with different temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, training, and personal effort take them the rest of the way. Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.” Or, as his forerunner, [Alfred] Binet [inventor of the IQ test], recognized, it’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

***

Summary

For those who have the fixed mindset, it poses a significant hindrance to their success in life. Curiously, Dweck and her colleagues found that most people in the US have the fixed mindset, thus are generally less successful in life than they could be.

Since most people have the fixed mindset, it seems fair to ask, “Why is the fixed mindset so common?” The answer is that it is based on ideas that were quite popular in previous eras. Since these ideas cannot be proven by modern scientific methods, this text refers to them as doctrines (as opposed to scientific theories).

There are two main doctrines that the fixed mindset is based on: genetic essentialism and determinism. Although these terms sound rather complex, they are really pretty simple. One says that your genes decide who you are, and the other says that your future thoughts and actions are perfectly predictable. While the majority of the US population believes in these two ideas, many do not even realize they hold such beliefs. But their daily efforts are sabotaged nonetheless.

Part 2: The Approach & Preparing to Address the Issues at Hand

Chapter 5. Explanation of Our Approach

In this chapter, we offer the details of the program we propose for shifting your mindset. The approach was derived by Gertrud and me based on the research performed by Dweck and other researchers. In her published studies, namely Dweck et al. (2007) 13, Dweck suggests that a step-by-step process can be used to overcome the fixed mindset. In said studies, participants do this by learning how science proved the beliefs that lie at the heart of the fixed mindset to be incorrect. Given the fact that beliefs can be extremely difficult to change, Gertrud and I find it appropriate to break down the process into a series of steps in order to simplify an otherwise potentially complex endeavor.

The Purpose of the Program

Our main objective in this text is to help you to realize your true potential. We intend to accomplish this goal by guiding you through a multi-step program to help you shift your mindset. The program consists of 5 steps that educate you about what is holding you back and why, and gives you the tools you need to overcome these obstructions.

Gertrud and I propose that all of the listed steps are necessary to create a complete program for anyone that is interested in improving himself/herself. It is particularly useful for people who have listened to the experts that affirm personal development is possible, but still have trouble believing it. As a result, they tend to have trouble translating good intentions into real changes in thought and behavior patterns.

The difficulty of realizing one’s true potential is a common one, as Dweck points out. And we propose that it arises out of the fact that most people’s beliefs about human potential are actually based on [+old scientific information +](material first learned in elementary school, high school, or even college). Prior to the turn of the millennium, when most of today’s adults originally attended school, the scientific community leaned more toward a view of man with fixed intelligence and abilities. At that time, the scientific community did not have conclusive evidence to prove that man is a malleable creature, so a fair amount of misinformation in the media was allowed to stand without firm rebuttal.

Since then, however, much progress has been made in numerous disciplines of science. Most of these findings have been released to the general public. But unfortunately, the latest findings are not always released in ways where people are able to understand how they change the big picture. Individual findings are published as they’re discovered, and it’s typically left to the audience to figure out what the overall impacts are. Of course, some members of the general public have appropriately modified their views of the world based on the latest scientific updates. But to be sure, these individuals are in the minority. Dweck confirms that the majority of the population in America holds an outdated view of man.

It is important to point out that the relay of the latest scientific updates to the general public is not the only problem. Our assessment of common inaccurate beliefs must also account for the fact that communication between the scientific community and the general public (via the education system, as well as the media) is also imperfect. Scientific findings are filtered and modified by numerous entities before reaching the eyes and ears of the public. Furthermore, as we will discuss later in this text, studies show that people are resistant to learning new material which challenges their beliefs.

Therefore, many of the beliefs that you continue to maintain about the world, and particularly about man and his potential, may be based on inaccurate information. As such, in order to adopt new beliefs about human potential, and specifically your own potential, you will need to be exposed to the numerous scientific advancements of late. You will need to keep an open mind as you read this text, and should confirm for yourself any material that you question. By no means are we requesting that you blindly accept everything we present in this work, nor anything else you may come across over the course of your life, since this would be dangerous. Instead, question everything, especially the firm beliefs you hold about yourself and your potential.

By engaging in the suggested program, including the preparation steps, we propose that you will be far better equipped to realize your true potential.

The Five-Step Program

Below is a bullet-point summary of the program.

The Five-Step Program

STEP 1: LEARN HOW YOUR MINDSET IS INFLUENCED BY OLD POPULAR BELIEFS

• Learn more about the fixed mindset, and its fundamental elements: the doctrine of genetic essentialism and the doctrine of determinism

• Learn how the doctrine of genetic essentialism and the doctrine of determinism both impact the modern paradigm.

• Learn how the modern paradigm may be affecting your beliefs, thus hindering your ability to realize your true potential.

STEP 2: LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE MAIN COMPONENTS OF THE FIXED MINDSET

• Learn how essentialism and determinism came to be popular doctrines in previous eras.

• Learn how the old doctrines that support the fixed mindset continue to influence modern culture

STEP 3: LEARN HOW MODERN SCIENCE OVERTURNED THE FIXED VIEW OF MAN & WHERE WE STAND TODAY

• Learn how modern science overturned all doctrines and theories that portrayed man as a fixed entity.

STEP 4: LEARN EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR PERSONAL GROWTH

• Learn a variety of techniques proven to help modify incorrect beliefs, which in turn correct maladaptive thought, emotion, and behavior patterns.

• Learn a variety of techniques proven to help people accomplish tasks they set out to perform and techniques for dealing with failure.

• Learn the general elements of a great action plan.

STEP 5: LEARN HOW TO ENVISION YOUR IDEAL SELF/ENVIRONMENT, CREATE YOUR OWN GREAT ACTION PLAN & MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS

• Select areas of your life you wish to improve on.

• Create your own great action plan and take action based on it.

• Learn how to monitor your progress.

Along the way, we will be assisted by key resources. They will help us in our quest for greater potential. They each provide unique insight into their respective areas of expertise and will help us to get the job done.

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Key Resources

• Carol Dweck, PhD: Professor of Psychology at Stanford University

• Peter M. Gollwitzer: Professor of Psychology at New York University

***

More information on the backgrounds of our key resources can be found in Appendix A.

You should now have a better understanding of the proposed program, and you have a sense of who will be guiding us on our journey. Before we start identifying some general goals and start working on them, though, we need to make sure we’re in the proper mental state that will make these exercises effective.

Chapter 6. Calming the Brain & Opening the Mind

The Way to do is to be.

—Lao Tzu

The purpose of this chapter is to offer you techniques to help you to relax. By entering a relaxed state, you will be able to better absorb the information we present throughout the rest of the text. As we will explain, in a fast-paced society, it is sometimes difficult to absorb new information. Note that if you take a break from reading, and return to the book when you happen to be a little stressed, you may need to refresh yourself by using the relaxation techniques presented in this chapter before you continue reading.

Preparing to Calm the Brain to Open the Mind

Some people believe they lack the natural talent to meditate or even to relax. The busy work day leaves them no time to relax during the day. If you told them that they’re allowing work and everything else to keep them from relaxing, they would insist they do not have a choice in the matter — obligations need to be fulfilled.

Some of the stress may be due to the fact that these people feel a deep desire to make others happy almost all the time. They make promises that are too big to be fulfilled, and they set deadlines for themselves that are overly optimistic, all in an effort to make others happy. Once they make the commitments, their back is against the wall — if they set time aside to relax, they disappoint the people they made promises to, a situation that is very upsetting to a person who needs to make others happy. As you can see, it’s a sort of catch-22 because if they do try to relax, they will feel anxious about all the people they are disappointing in the process. Gertrud and I know because it happens to us sometimes.

Patterns, like the one mentioned above, are common in Western culture. A lot of us drink coffee to wake up each morning and some even take medication to relax and to sleep each night. Our days are extremely busy and it is like stuffing 20 lb of crap in a 10 lb bag — and the fact that it does not work stresses us out. Between work, family, and other obligations, there is minimal time for play and relaxation.

Little do many realize, but they are serving to perpetuate their own unproductive patterns with the decisions they make each day. By not using a calendar to plan out how they will accomplish the various tasks, and by not setting aside time to play and time to relax every day, they perpetuate the same old maladaptive behaviors. Occasionally, these individuals will try to sit still for a few minutes to relax and/or meditate. What often happens? The quietness is filled by thoughts racing through their brains of all the things they need to do. Since our culture encourages people to think in terms of natural talent, these individuals would probably insist they do not have a natural talent for meditation. Basically, they are saying they are missing some sort of meditation gene, or they have the anxiety gene (which prevents them from effectively relaxing). However, this book is about refuting false notions of natural talent and ones about abilities that can’t be cultivated. As we have mentioned, modern science tells us that the fixed view of man is completely inaccurate — and you will learn how modern scientists came to adopt this new view so that you can do the same.

When trying to relax, we cannot stress enough the importance of a proper environment. We all know that burning incense or lighting a candle are helpful for relaxing, and these are certainly good tools, but there are also many others. Selecting a certain time of day, a certain room, clothing, and so on can all help the brain to recognize it’s time to relax. Of course, the first time you do try to meditate, you might find it to be fairly difficult. Your brain and body may not be accustomed to relaxing. After practicing meditating a few times, however, it should start to feel much more natural.

An Exercise for Calming the Brain and Opening the Mind

For people who are practiced at calming the brain and opening the mind, they typically begin by thinking of a peaceful place. A few deep breaths will cue the beginning of relaxation, and natural breathing will usually follow. They envision a set of 10 steps leading down to the relaxing place — wooden steps down to a beach or a set of rocks leading down to a meadow, for example. They tell themselves that by the time they reach the peaceful place, they will be completely relaxed. They start at the top of a series of steps, and progress downward — relaxing more and more with every step they take. They focus on the details of the peaceful place: waves gently washing up on the beach, butterflies fluttering about, a frog on a lily pad on the pond, and so on. The details help the brain to focus on the exercise rather than becoming distracted by other thoughts.

Instead of a peaceful place, others find it more helpful to think about a joyous occasion, either past or future. In a sequence of the events of the occasion, they can tell themselves that when they reach the last event, they will be completely relaxed. The occasion might be some sort of get- together with close friends, or some other joyful meeting. Note: one needs to be careful when thinking about occasions to avoid thinking about people and things that may evoke negative or intense emotions while trying to relax, because these can cause the person to get side-tracked and end up not relaxing at all.

Whether it’s a peaceful place or a joyous occasion you wish to focus on, take a few minutes now to relax prior to reading on (if you have not done so already). A few moments of relaxation will help to ensure you will derive the greatest benefit from your reading.

Summary

Since this book contains a lot of new information, and it can be difficult to slow down from the daily rat race to absorb new things, meditation can be a helpful tool to ensure you get the most from your reading. Modern science has shown that meditation can slow brain waves, and slower brain waves have been linked to clearer thinking. We provide a sample meditation exercise and suggest you meditate for a short period prior to reading on, and anytime you resume reading.

[* Chapter 7. Forget What You Think You Know about Your True Potential (& the Rest of Reality, as Well) *]

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

— Michelangelo

Before we go on, we need to pause for a moment to elaborate on how you can get the most out of this text. When we consider the fact that our beliefs are often formed without substantiating evidence (which we will discuss in a later chapter), and are maintained despite apparent disparities (which will also be discussed later), then it is apparent that we need to examine the numerous assumptions upon which our present beliefs rest. With this in mind, we need to make a conscious effort to not dismiss new material simply because it conflicts with our longstanding beliefs.

As mentioned, beliefs are a very tricky thing, especially if you are trying to change them. What we see when we try to change our beliefs is that, while we can read new material, recognize it makes sense, and commit it to memory, there is no guarantee that the things we learned will change our beliefs. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the things we learned will change the way we think and act in daily life.

To use an example to illustrate the point, as we write this text, we are approaching Christmas. A popular movie this time of year is the computer- animated film, Polar Express, a story about a group of children who ride a train to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. One of the children, a little boy, is not sure Santa exists. Throughout the film, the boy is consistently reminded that he is a doubter. The train eventually arrives at the North Pole, and the boy struggles to see Santa above the crowd. A little girl who rode on the train with him asks the boy if he can hear the beautiful sound of the bells ringing that are attached to the harnesses of Santa’s reindeer. But the boy cannot hear them ring because he doubts Santa truly exists.

How the above relates to this text is in the fact that our goal is to change beliefs, and with a change in beliefs comes a change in thoughts and behavior. So as you can imagine, a child can watch the Polar Express, learn the plot, all the songs, and so on, but if in the end he still does not believe, what good was the rest of the exercise? Similarly, a person can read and feel like he understands every word of this text, even commit it all to memory…but the most crucial part is changing one’s beliefs. If the old inaccurate beliefs are never challenged, a crucial aspect of personal development has been missed.

On that note, it’s important to point out that changing one’s beliefs, and the related thought/behavior patterns, is a gradual process. This being the case, even if you finish reading this text and you feel like you believe in your ability to grow in new and fantastic ways, do not be disheartened if your thought and behavior patterns do not immediately change.

In later chapters, we will discuss a variety of methods for letting go of inaccurate beliefs and adopting new ones. We will provide worksheets to help you set goals and change your thought/behavior patterns. With enough discipline and hard work, growth will surely come.

Summary

As we have established, a lot of people in modern society have incorrect beliefs about human potential. But we all know that beliefs can be difficult to change. So in order to get the most out of this book, you are going to need to remain open-minded to any new information, and be prepared to do your own research to confirm anything that seems farfetched. This chapter gets you ready by opening your mind to the surprisingly versatile nature of man.

Chapter 8. Identify Your Primary Goals for Personal Development

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

—Michelangelo

In this chapter, we offer information that will hopefully help you to identify what your general goals in life are, and a worksheet at the end for this purpose.

It may be easier to understand what your main goals for personal development are by identifying which level of needs you desire to address. Depending on whether you are basically just trying to survive, or feel loved, or feel confident, your goals will vary significantly. To help you in this respect, then, we present a commonly-used pyramid of human motivation.

Combined with an understanding of your motivations, considering your life’s overall purpose will probably help you when making your goal selections.

Moving out of Survival Mode

What is survival mode? Just as it sounds, it is a state of being where your main goal in life is strictly to get by: to get through the day, to get through the week, and so on. Abraham Maslow’s paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” illustrates why moving out of survival mode is so important. In 1943, Maslow proposed that individuals attempt to fulfill their needs according to a certain hierarchy (see below).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Source: Factoryjoe14
p<>. Maslow’s theory proposes that the lowest needs in the hierarchy, the physiological needs, are the most critical to survival. These are typically the needs that must be met first. Once a person’s physiological needs have been met, he will then probably pursue the comforts of safety. Based on the above illustration, several categories of needs must be met before you can focus on self-actualization (at the top of the pyramid).

As you can imagine, staying in survival mode is very stressful. If your basic needs for survival are not met, you will probably spend most of your time each day worrying and working inefficiently. Over time, you will notice that all this stress is taking a real toll on your health and on your relationships. Stress pushes people well beyond their limits both physically and mentally, and can leave a person with little energy for personal development.

Selecting Primary Personal Development Goals

To aid you in selecting general goals, we suggest that you try to identify your life’s purpose. Perhaps you believe your purpose is to make life better for others by making or providing a certain product/service, or by caring for people…or maybe it’s something else. Identifying what you believe your purpose is should help you to recognize the goals that are aligned with it.

If you are not sure what your purpose in life is, this may be because you have just not had enough time to think about it — such as living in survival mode. Or maybe you have spent a fair amount of time thinking about it, but still it remains unclear. Either way, if your purpose is still not clear to you, hopefully this book will help you in that respect. Perhaps, as you are reading, some ideas about your life’s purpose and general goals will occur to you. At that point, then, you may choose to revisit the worksheet to fill it out or make modifications.

Keeping the above in mind, try to state clearly what you believe your life’s purpose is, and identify what your general goals in life are in the exercise below.

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Statement of Your Life’s Purpose & General Goals Worksheet

I believe my purpose in life is:

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My general goals in life are:

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***

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Prepare to Be Highly Creative, Talented & Intelligent

You will note that personal development does not necessarily mean that you need to focus on ending bad habits. You can also decide to learn a new skill, adopt a healthy behavioral pattern, or change your environment in some way that will be beneficial for personal growth. The areas you can select for personal development are endless, and the latest findings of modern science suggest such pursuits are quite worthwhile.

Summary

Here, we help you to identify your main goals for personal development. Of course everyone has different goals that they pursue, and the goals vary depending on who the people are, and where they are in their life. We all know how tough life can be -- many people today are just living day-to-day and not thinking much about the purpose of their life and their primary goals. So this chapter should help to bring these things into better focus.

To help you with this exercise, we explain Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, elaborate a little on how to identify your life’s purpose and goals, and provide a worksheet. We then suggest that you prepare to be surprised by your abilities as you continue reading the rest of this book.

Now that you have thought about your life’s purpose and general goals, try to keep them in mind as you read through the rest of the text. Again, if these things were unclear as you tried to fill out the worksheet, you are welcome to revisit the worksheet at some other point. In later chapters, we will offer worksheets for you to summarize your vision of your ideal self, and an action plan to help you to achieve your goals and fulfill your life’s purpose.

But for now, we need to talk more about beliefs.

Part 3: Why Your Beliefs Are Important & How They Are Formed & Reinforced by the Human Experience

Chapter 9. Why Your Beliefs Are So Important & How They’re Typically Formed and Maintained

Whether you realize it or not, your abilities and behaviors are strongly influenced by your beliefs. The scientific community reached this consensus many years ago. And it is due to this consensus that CBT (first mentioned in Chapter 2) focuses so heavily on correcting inaccurate beliefs. They influence everything we think and do, and this activity often occurs below the level of conscious awareness.

Most people only rarely stop to consider the inaccuracies of their beliefs. They live their whole lives seeing the world a certain way with only rather minor adjustments. Sometimes, people [+do +]stop to examine some of their inaccurate beliefs, and if they are lucky enough to understand how to correct them, it changes their life dramatically — their thoughts, their feelings, their behaviors…everything. This is the power of beliefs, and this is the power that CBT recognizes.

Beliefs are critical to our understanding of the world. And sometimes it seems that doubting them would be like questioning common sense. But how are they actually formed and maintained?

How Beliefs Are Usually Formed

When it comes to figuring out how beliefs are established, the truth is that the scientific community has yet to agree on all the specifics of the process. However, although the specifics of the process remain a matter of debate, the scientific community [+has +]reached a general consensus as to what sort of things influence belief formation, namely: our perceptions of the beliefs of people we interact with (especially during childhood); advertising; and physical trauma (to the head, in particular). See Argyle & Beit-Hallhmi (1997) 15, Hoffer (2002) 16, Kilbourne & Pipher (2000) 17, Rothschild (2000) 18 for more information.

How Beliefs Are either Maintained or Modified

The above synopsis suggests that a person’s beliefs are based largely on the experiences one has. It would seem that all of the things a person experiences over the course of his life contribute (to one degree or another) to belief formation, maintenance, and replacement.

What we recognize, then, is that it would be virtually impossible for two different individuals to share exactly the same beliefs. This is because, despite the fact that it is possible for two individuals to share the same environment, it is impossible for both people to perceive everything exactly the same way — all experiences are subjective.

Since all experiences are subjective, as one might surmise, scientific studies indicate that your beliefs about reality do not necessarily have any relation to reality. For all intents and purposes, your beliefs about reality are inaccurate to one degree or another.

Thus, we need to consider how we can change our inaccurate beliefs — even the deep-rooted ones. Now, we know that it is generally possible for people to change their beliefs to a significant degree. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear about people having what they call a spiritual transformation. Actually, in America, much of the population has had such an experience according to Smith (2005) 19. By the way, the study indicates that most of the individuals who fall under this category are not necessarily any poorer or less scientifically informed than the rest of the population, as some might imagine was the case.

In order to begin to correct our inaccurate beliefs, two conditions must be true: a) we must be presented with new information; and b) we must be able to absorb the new information presented. We begin with the first condition.

Are Members of Modern Western Culture Presented with New Information?

Generally speaking, people in the West do receive new information. And much of this information comes from the scientific community…but the interaction is not direct. The scientific community works continuously to refine its understanding of the universe. And its resultant findings are often communicated to the general public via the education system and the media.

Of course, despite its diligent efforts to the contrary, the material generated by the scientific community is not completely without human error and bias. Like everyone else, they make mistakes and are influenced by their own beliefs and motivations…and these things contaminate the information they dispense to one degree or another. Similarly, the relay of the information by teachers and media personnel is not without bias. And when it comes to publishing an article about a study, let’s face it, “Smart Gene” is catchier and sounds way more interesting than “A Gene That Influences Intelligence.”

Nonetheless, new information [+is +]out there for the general public to glean, with the understanding that further refinements will always be necessary. But there is plenty of misinformation out there as well.

Can Man Absorb Information that Challenges His Beliefs?

That leads us to the second issue: whether or not people can absorb new information. Numerous surveys have illustrated the fact that people are often resistant to new accurate information, for example Bartels (2002) 20, Nyhan (2010) 21, and Nyhan and Reifler (2012) 22, due to conflicts with their beliefs.

One interesting study (Nyhan & Reifler, 201523) by the same researchers aptly illustrates this phenomenon and was cited by xTime Magazine. It discusses how both Republican and Democrat leaders sometimes take advantage of the many shades of grey within the truth to gain further favor with their constituents by pandering to their beliefs. The study was performed by Brendan Nyhan and his research partner, Jason Reifler, on both conservative and liberal students. The aim of the study was to test the students’ resistance to well-established facts. The authors summarize the findings: “People who care enough about politics to become well-informed often find it threatening to admit that they are misinformed or that their side is making false claims about controversial issues and political figures…” So it would seem that when people come across information that challenges their beliefs, they tend to discard it, regardless of how solid the evidence is.

Why Do We Resist New Information?

Scientists are only beginning to understand why people often resist new information, even when it’s been proved to be accurate. But Nyhan and Reifler, as well as many other researchers, continue to study the phenomenon and have made significant progress to that end. In the Nyhan & Reifler (2015) study, they sought to figure out the cause of the resistance to new accurate information.

They found that the common tendency to resist new accurate information is due to a combination of both a lack of exposure to correct information and a need for self-affirmation. Perhaps further research will help us to better understand how we, both as individuals and as a society, can improve our ability to absorb new accurate information.

Nyhan and Reifler deduce that even though inaccurate beliefs are common in modern society, and are often difficult to correct, it is possible to at least reduce misperceptions, especially with the assistance of graphical information. What we learn, then, is that even in the most difficult of circumstances, it is possible to correct our inaccurate beliefs (at least to some degree). And since our beliefs affect all areas of our life, we may realize greater potential by addressing these issues. See Appendix B for an excerpt of the referenced study.

How Our Beliefs Are Affected by the Fact That We Live in Modern Western Culture

Since our beliefs are so highly influenced by our personal experiences, it seems reasonable to wonder how our beliefs might be affected by the fact that we live in Western culture. Curiously, few stop to consider how they might be affected by the beliefs held by their friends, family, coworkers, etc. Few also consider the impact of the messages they receive from the social institutions they interact with, and the advertisements they see and hear on a daily basis. This is probably because the beliefs we encounter from the above sources are often expressed in a subtle manner. While some beliefs are typically stated outright (namely beliefs related to religious and philosophical traditions), many beliefs remain in the background of our interactions, subtly influencing our perceptions. This input may come from someone with a specific agenda (such as a business owner that is trying to convince us that we need his products), or from a person that is not even aware he holds such beliefs (such as a friend who has the fixed mindset, but does not realize it).

It may not be apparent, but when you interact with other members of the general public, you are typically being influenced by growth-inhibiting beliefs. Growth-inhibiting beliefs are part of the modern “paradigm,” 24 which is defined as follows:

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Definition of “Paradigm”

Paradigm: a conceptual word-view that consists of formal theories, classic experiments, and trusted methods…

Source: Britannica (paraphrased)

***

The term “paradigm” is usually used to refer to a view of the universe that is scientific in nature. Although paradigms are typically scientific in nature, they are not limited to views held by just scientists. Laypeople also hold views about man and the rest of the universe that they consider to be scientific. And whatever the common understanding is becomes the paradigm of the era.

A good example of a paradigm is the Mechanistic paradigm. The Mechanistic paradigm was an old scientific view that held that everything in the universe interacted in the same way as the gears in a watch. This view was significantly influenced by the discovery that Earth and other planets in our solar system orbit the sun — a discovery that heavily contributed to the paradigm shift from the previous understanding. Prior to this revelation, it was commonly believed that the planets and the sun orbited Earth (often referred to as the Scholastic Paradigm). It should be noted that despite the fact that there was a lot of evidence to support the need for a revision to each respective view (both Mechanistic and Scholastic), there was much resistance from the powers that be to maintain the status quo.

As a matter of reference, we will be using the following table in the historical portion of this text to clarify which period we are discussing.

It may seem strange that people of previous eras thought about the world and themselves in such a different way than we do, but it’s true. Machines and computers have drastically changed the way we view everything.
p<>. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that not everything about our view of the world is different from our predecessors. Some of their core beliefs, namely essentialism and determinism, maintain a veritable force in modern society (in one form or another). So a key aspect of personal growth is to recognize that these old views are inaccurate, yet they continue to influence us in subtle ways, and to modify our thoughts and behavior to rectify the situation.

Summary

At this point, we have well-established the importance of beliefs. The scientific community is quite outspoken about how inaccurate beliefs can hold people back. Yet, for whatever reason, inaccurate beliefs about human potential persist in the new millennium. It’s unbelievable how we all sabotage ourselves!

Since beliefs are so important, it’s helpful to understand how they are typically formed. No one knows all the specifics on how beliefs begin and what things influence them. But we do know that a few things heavily influence our beliefs. Things like what our parents believe, information given to us by charismatic leaders, and so on can all have a significant impact.

What we notice is missing from the list of factors that influence our beliefs is objective reality. We have no way of viewing reality objectively, so it stands to reason that many of our beliefs may be inaccurate.

This being the case, we wonder how people go about correcting inaccurate beliefs. The answer begins with being presented new information, and then actually absorbing said information. Based on studies, we realize that people generally have a tough time absorbing new stuff. So we then consider how we can improve our ability to learn new things.

Zooming out a little, and recognizing that many people have several inaccurate beliefs, we wonder how modern culture contributes to these errors. Certain beliefs are shared by most people of any given culture. Since all beliefs have inaccuracies, social scientists sometimes refer to groups of shared beliefs as specific “paradigms.” A paradigm is basically just a way of looking at the world, and is usually scientific in nature.

We also introduce the Mechanistic and Scholastic paradigms, and describe some of the details of each view to give you some perspective on when the doctrines of determinism and essentialism were popular. We will be revisiting these topics in later chapters.

What we learn from the above is that beliefs are important, not only our own, but also those commonly held by the people in the society we live in. In a later section, we will discuss at length how certain beliefs that relate to the fixed mindset came to be popular today due to their popularity in previous eras. But for now, we need to consider how your beliefs help to shape your mindset.

STEP 1: LEARN HOW YOUR MINDSET IS INFLUENCED BY OLD POPULAR BELIEFS

The Goal(s) of This Section:

• for you to learn more about the fixed mindset, and its fundamental elements: the doctrine of genetic essentialism and the doctrine of determinism

• for you to learn how the doctrine of genetic essentialism and the doctrine of determinism both impact the modern paradigm

• for you to learn how the modern paradigm may be affecting your beliefs, thus hindering your ability to realize your true potential

Part 4: The Main Components of the Fixed Mindset: Genetic Essentialism & Determinism

Chapter 10. The Fixed Mindset

Dweck found that mindset (either fixed or growth) is a critical factor in predicting human behavior, and in predicting the success in one’s life overall. Of course this is not to say that a person with the fixed mindset is guaranteed to fail (such would be a deterministic claim), but rather it greatly increases the likelihood of impeded ability.

Dweck first noticed the mindset phenomenon when she was a young researcher studying the behavior of children in various learning environments. The children participating in the studies would be given challenging puzzles to solve — ones where there was a fairly high probability of failure. She was quite surprised to find that some children actually enjoyed the challenges where failure was rather likely. Apparently, they looked forward to learning something new from the experience, and they were less concerned about the embarrassment of failure. Dweck elaborates below. 25

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How Dweck Discovered the Two Mindsets (Growth & Fixed)

One day my doctoral student, Mary Bandura, and I were trying to understand why some students were so caught up in proving their ability, while others could just let go and learn. Suddenly we realized that there were two meanings to ability, not one: a fixed ability that needs to be proven, and a changeable ability that can be developed through learning.

That’s how [my vision of the two different] mindsets [was] born. I knew instantly which one I had. I realized why I’d always been so concerned about mistakes and failures. And I recognized for the first time that I had a choice.

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

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So what is the fixed mindset exactly? Dweck and her colleagues elaborate on its typical symptoms26:

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Typical Symptoms of the Fixed Mindset

1) Folks with the fixed mindset tend to focus less on learning goals (goals aimed at increasing their ability) versus performance goals (goals aimed at documenting their ability).

2) Folks with the fixed mindset tend to believe in the futility of effort versus the utility of effort given difficulty or low ability.

3) Folks with the fixed mindset tend to make low-ability (helpless) attributions for failure rather than low-effort (mastery-oriented) attributions for failure.

4) Folks with the fixed mindset tend to display helpless strategies (effort withdrawal or strategy preservation) versus mastery-oriented strategies (effort escalation or strategy change) in the face of setbacks.

Source: “Implicit theories of intelligence…” (paraphrased)

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References: 1) 27, 2) 28, 3) 294) 30

In the same paper, the authors clarify that a person who has the [+growth mindset +]does not presume every individual has the same level of intelligence across every discipline, or that everyone…

…will learn everything with equal ease. Rather, it means that for any given individual, intellectual ability can always be further developed. (See, e.g., the description of academic ability as developing expertise in Sternberg & Horvath, 199831.)

In order to better understand the differences between the two mindsets, Dweck reports in Mindset… that she and her colleagues conducted a study32 on the brain waves of several individuals (people she had already identified as having either the fixed or growth mindset). They divided them into two groups based on their mindset. Both groups were asked difficult questions and given varying types of feedback in response. From this study, she determined that people with the fixed mindset are typically only interested when the feedback reflects on their ability. They are usually not interested in information that might help them to learn how to improve their skills for the next test. In contrast, growth-mindset individuals tend to be less interested in feedback on current ability and more interested in information that may help them to learn and to stretch their abilities. Dweck notes33 that the entire journey toward success is actually different: People with the growth mindset value the journey toward success, regardless of the outcome, whereas people with the fixed mindset only value the outcome of success (and dread failure).

Of course, one might ask, “Is it possible for a fixed-mindset individual to be highly intelligent and highly skilled at various tasks?” Dweck’s research suggests that while a fixed mindset individual might perform quite well in some areas, he would probably be hesitant to try to learn a new skill, especially if he was not immediately successful in his first few attempts. Likewise, he would probably be unable to become as proficient at as many tasks as a growth-mindset individual, and would be more likely to struggle to modify steadfast bad habits because he believes them to be essential to his being.

Another reason that the fixed mindset is such a hindrance to personal growth pertains to the acceptance of challenges based on estimations of one’s own abilities. Dweck tells us that, on average, people are quite inaccurate in estimating their own potential. For those who have the fixed mindset, then, this would suggest that they are avoiding challenges where they might actually have been successful.

Since most people in the US are poor estimators of their abilities, and since most people have the fixed mindset, Dweck and her colleagues were interested in learning if people with the growth mindset were any better at estimating their abilities. Because of this, they began to compare the estimation abilities of the two groups. As expected, they found that people with the fixed mindset were in line with the typical results: poor estimators. On the other hand, people with the growth mindset were “amazingly accurate” in estimating their abilities.

Dweck informs us that it makes sense for people with the growth mindset to be more accurate in their estimations of their performance because they need to have an accurate perception of their performance in order to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. They need accurate information about their performance to learn effectively. Furthermore, the feedback they receive does not threaten to depreciate their precious self- worth — as it is a changing attribute — thus, they can view it more objectively 34.

The above findings shed light on how people with the fixed mindset tend to continuously limit themselves by avoiding challenges. Instead of accepting difficult challenges, learning from their failures, and sometimes being pleasantly surprised when they succeed, people with the fixed mindset only undertake challenges at which they are sure they will be successful. By doing so, they continuously confirm the level of ability they believe they have, and further reinforce their beliefs about their lack of talent. This creates an endless cycle of beliefs affecting behaviors and behaviors affecting beliefs.

How Your Mindset Can Influence Your Behavior

Dweck informs us that a person’s mindset can have a strong impact on one’s behavior. It affects all aspects of one’s life: which goals one sets, how one goes about achieving them, and how successful his efforts are35:

…a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and…a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, .

Dweck notes that the process by which mindset affects behavior actually consists of a few different elements. When a person believes his intelligence and abilities are fixed, he tends to shy away from challenges at which he believes he may be unsuccessful (such as learning a new skill, etc.). The person sizes up the challenge and estimates whether or not his level of intelligence and ability will enable him to overcome it. If he estimates that the challenge is too difficult, he elects to avoid it if at all possible. And he neither considers the great rewards that could come if he was to overcome the challenge, nor the insight he could gain even if he failed.

In contrast, the person with the growth mindset welcomes the challenge, with hopes of learning something new…even if it means failing along the way. Dweck offers a nice summary of several studies that illustrates the potential impact of mindset on behavior36.

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Potential Impacts of Mindset on Behavior

1) Fixed-mindset individuals tend to shy away from challenges.

2) Fixed-mindset individuals show less resilience in the face of setbacks.

3) Fixed-mindset individuals tend to perform worse overall in academics.

4) Social relationships for adults and children can be affected.

5) Activities in the workplace can be affected.

Source: “Mindsets and human nature…” (paraphrased)

***

References: 1) 37, 38, 2) 39, 40, 41, 42, 42, 3) 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 4) 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 5) 56, 57

Your Mindset Can Influence Your Performance

Your mindset can have quite a pronounced influence on your behavior, but it can also affect your performance. Previous research performed by Dweck and others sought to figure out which factors affect performance most, for example: Dweck & Sorich (1999)58, Eccles, Lord & Midgley(1991)59, Gutman & Midgley (2000)60, Henderson & Dweck (2000)61, Pintrich & de Groot (1990)62, and Wigfield & Eccles (2002)63. Based on this research, it became a well-known fact among researchers in the field that the most stressful time for school children is the middle-school years – - where students transition from elementary school to high school. As Dweck and her colleagues reviewed their findings and conducted studies of their own, they realized that mindset made the biggest difference in student performance during those years.

One study64 (which Dweck conducted with her colleagues, Trzesniewski and Blackwell, on 373 7th graders) set out to better understand the differences in performance between the two groups of school children. As Dweck suspected, mindset proved to be a major factor. The results were that the +][+growth-mindset[+ students exhibited an upward trajectory in grades over the two years of middle school, whereas the fixed- mindset students exhibited no change in grades +].

The fixed mindset has been shown to affect your performance in other ways too. Psychologist Keith Stanovich proposes that smart people can think and act in ways that are below their level of true potential just because of their view of intelligence. Stanovich coined the term “dysrationalia,” and he defines it as follows65:

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Definition of Dysrationalia (According to Keith Stanovich)

Dysrationalia: …the inability to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence

Source: What Intelligence Tests Miss… (excerpt)

***

Stanovich found that many people with fairly high IQs think and act in irrational ways simply because they “…overvalue the kinds of thinking skills that IQ tests measure and undervalue other critically important cognitive skills, such as the ability to think rationally.” Stanovich found that people can be lulled into a state of continuously performing below their potential simply because of their beliefs about their potential. These findings, combined with those mentioned previously in this subsection and numerous other studies, serve as conclusive evidence of the fact that mindset plays a major role in predicting performance. For more information on how the fixed mindset affects personal growth, see Appendix C
.
p.

How One Develops the Fixed Mindset

How does one develop the fixed mindset, or the growth mindset for that matter? It begins in early childhood, reports Dweck66:

As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart. I have studied thousands of people from preschoolers on, and it’s breathtaking how many reject an opportunity to learn.

Dweck found that the fixed mindset typically arises out of a fear of being inferior by nature.

That leads us to wonder, “Why would some children have a fear of being inferior and others not?” Being afraid of being inferior by nature means that you believe it is possible for one person to be naturally inferior to another. Since it is the consensus of the scientific community that beliefs are strongly influenced by childhood experiences, it seems reasonable to suspect that some children are exposed to environments that cause them to veer toward one mindset or the other. The family that is charged with raising the child, then, plays a major role in shaping the child’s beliefs about the world. The child’s beliefs are also influenced by the numerous other interactions he has: ones with teachers, class mates, friends, etc. If the majority of the people that the child interacts with all share certain beliefs about man’s intelligence and abilities, we can see how these beliefs could become unquestionable from the child’s perspective — just common sense. Thus, the child would accept the fixed mindset (and beliefs about innate talents, superiority, etc.) as the only intelligent view of man.

There are typically two major influences in a child’s environment: family and school (and depending on a person’s level of social interaction: friends, both physical and online). If the child’s family raises the child to have certain beliefs, these beliefs would be influenced by the culture(s) that the parents/guardians were raised in. The child’s beliefs would also be influenced by the culture(s) they lived in previously and the one(s) they presently live in. A similar situation goes for the school system that educates the child. We will discuss how the fixed mindset relates to modern Western culture in a later section.

The Fixed Mindset and Depression

Probably due to the wide range of implications they found the fixed mindset to have, Dweck and her associates became interested in learning if there was any connection between the fixed mindset and depression. In Mindset…67, she tells of how she and her colleagues performed a study on college students during the months of February and March, which are months when depression among college students is fairly common. Dweck first determined which students had a fixed mindset and which ones had a growth mindset. She then had them answer questions regarding their mood, their activities, and how they were coping with problems during the difficult period. The students with the fixed mindset tended to think more about their problems and setbacks, basically tormenting themselves by thinking that the setbacks revealed their incompetence and inferiority. They also tended to let their studies and their chores slide during the most difficult months. And the more depressed they felt, the more they let everything go.

In contrast to their counterparts, the growth-mindset students maintained their schedule of duties during the most difficult months fairly well. Of course there were differences among individuals with the growth mindset regarding performance, both in their levels of depression and in their reactions. Incredibly, though, the individuals with the growth mindset who showed signs of deeper levels of depression were also the ones who took the most action to rectify the situation. Generally speaking, the growth-mindset students reacted in a way that was the exact opposite of the fixed-mindset students.

Dweck notes that some might argue that the connection she makes between people with the growth mindset and their resistance to depression may be incorrect. Critics state that in instances where the growth-mindset students were still performing fairly well, this is not an indication of a higher level of resilience because these individuals were probably not actually depressed. Based on this assertion, the critics argue that her assessment of how students with the two mindsets faired differently is an unfair comparison. They would suggest that the determining factor as to how students fair during difficult periods is more relevant to temperament than mindset.

In response, Dweck affirms that the growth-mindset students were depressed, they were just coping with the circumstances better. In Dweck’s words, “…Temperament certainly plays a role, but mindset is the most important part of the story.” In sum, depression, like mindset and beliefs, affects our behavior. A person who is suffering from depression is less likely to be inclined to engage in challenging activities, even if those activities could lead to personal growth.

The Fixed Mindset Can Affect a Person’s Entire Life

Dweck’s research illustrates that the fixed mindset does not only hinder you on specific occasions, but rather can affect your entire life. She writes68:

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The Long-Term Impact of the Fixed Mindset

For twenty years [as of 2006], my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life?

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

[Italics in original]

***

As stated, this is not to suggest that a person’s life is guaranteed to be ruined because he has the fixed mindset (that would be a determinist claim). People with the fixed mindset can be very successful in life. On the other hand, by switching from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset, the already-successful individual may be able to realize even higher levels of success.

Dweck & Her Colleagues Prove That It Is Possible to Shift to the Growth Mindset

Now that we know just how critical your mindset is, let us discuss how Dweck and her colleagues proved it is possible to switch to the growth mindset.

Dweck informs us that it [+is +]possible to switch from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset. In addition to the results of the studies performed by her and her colleagues, where they successfully helped numerous individuals to make the shift, we wish to point out that Dweck too is living proof of a successful switch. Dweck recounts how she once had the fixed mindset. She remembers being a child and having thoughts about herself and others as having fixed intelligence and abilities. These thoughts were further reinforced by one of her school teachers69:

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Dweck’s Recount of Having the Fixed Mindset as a Child

…Even as a child, I was focused on being smart, but the fixed mindset was really stamped in by Mrs. Wilson, my sixth-grade teacher. Unlike Alfred Binet, she believed that people’s IQ scores told the whole story of who they were. We were seated around the room in IQ order, and only the highest-IQ students could be trusted to carry the flag, clap the erasers, or take a note to the principal. Aside from the daily stomachaches she provoked with her judgmental stance, she was creating a mindset in which everyone in the class had one consuming goal — look smart, don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being was at stake every time she gave us a test or called us in class?

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

***

So we recognize that Dweck, herself, was able to adopt the growth mindset. But what evidence is there that generally everyone with the fixed mindset can make the switch? In the same paper by Dweck and Blackwell (2007) (referred to previously), the researchers demonstrate that it is possible for generally everyone to switch to the growth mindset — basically that Dweck’s case was not a fluke. More importantly, the study illustrates the fact that changing one’s view of man can translate in a scientifically-verifiable improvement in performance.

The study was performed on students in middle school who were prescreened and found to have the fixed mindset. As mentioned, middle school is well-known to be an extremely difficult period for adolescents. They divided the study-participants into two groups. One group participated in an intervention program and the other was the control group. The intervention program was designed to teach students about the growth mindset.

It was conducted in multiple parts, first engaging the experimental students in the intervention program while giving the control group non-growth mindset material. Once the intervention completed, the researchers wanted to test the motivation levels of the students that participated in the intervention program as compared to the students in the control group. Teachers were asked to identify which students showed improvements in motivation over the course of the study program. And, although some control students exhibited a fair level of improvement (9%), three times as many students in the experimental group exhibited improvement (27%). See below.

Comparison of Motivation between Intervention Program Participants & Nonparticipants

The results were astounding.

Another part of the study monitored student grades during that period of middle school when grades typically decline. The intervention- participants saw no decline while their peers followed the typical (downward) trajectory. It is apparent, then, that Dweck et al.’s strategy effectively immunized the students against the struggles of the middle school period. It allowed the students to perform unfettered during the period of duress. The authors of the study conclude 70:

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The Conclusion of a Study Performed by Dweck et al. regarding the Switch in Mindset

This finding supports the contention that it was the incremental theory message in particular that was responsible for the achievement benefit, rather than some other positive motivational factor in the experimental condition, which should have affected students with both theories of intelligence equally, and confirms that even a brief targeted intervention, focusing on a key belief, can have a significant effect on motivation and achievement.

Source: “Implicit theories of intelligence…” (excerpt)

***

Inspired by the above study and other research, Dweck and her colleagues developed the “Brainology”TM program to help everyone adopt the growth mindset. The program teaches people about the brain, how it grows when people learn, and what the brain needs to perform at optimum levels (such as sleeping enough, eating right, and using good study strategies). Applauding the program, one child commented71:

I did change my mind about how the brain works and I do things differently. I will try harder because I know that the more you try the more your brain works.

So what did the intervention program consist of that was so successful in helping the participants to make the shift? We will discuss the details of the program in a later section.

Before we move on, we wish to make clear that having the fixed mindset does not mean a person is unintelligent (after all, Dweck is a PhD). Nor does it mean a person is destined for a life of failure (again, we can refer to Dweck in her ability to shift to the growth mindset as evidence of this fact, as well as her success prior to the shift). Instead, the fixed mindset is more of a hindrance that can basically prevent anyone from truly excelling. Thus, it is quite possible for a person to function at a fairly high level, while still viewing his abilities as fixed. The problem really rears its head when the person wants to perform even better, learn something new, or faces a situation he finds to be truly challenging. If he is not immediately successful in performing the new task, he is far more likely (than a person with the growth mindset) to abandon the task and take up something he knows he will be successful at.

Summary

A person’s mindset is his view of man’s ability to cultivate his skill sets, behaviors, intelligence, etc. Having the fixed mindset means that you believe man is unable to improve these things.

We cover the fixed mindset in great detail here. We explain everything from its common symptoms to how it can influence your behavior, your performance, and your life in general.

What’s fascinating is that even though the fixed mindset is such a hindrance, it’s a condition that’s quite treatable. Dweck and her associates were able to help many people overcome the fixed mindset, including Dweck, herself.

The researchers proved it is possible for people to switch from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset. They did so by conducting a study on a large number of individuals with the fixed mindset. They split the participants into two groups and engaged only one of the groups in an intervention program. After the intervention sessions completed, they compared the average motivation levels of the two groups. In one of the types of comparisons, the intervention group was three times as successful as the nonintervention group!

Of course you’re probably wondering exactly what the intervention consisted of, and we’ll get to that later. But in the meantime, rest assured that while you are reading this book and processing the information, you are basically following the same steps used in the intervention.

Let us next learn about what is at the heart of the fixed mindset: the doctrines of genetic essentialism and determinism.

Chapter 11. Genetic Essentialism

The fixed mindset rests mainly on two pillars: genetic essentialism and determinism. One is a notion that man can’t improve himself because of some inherent essence expressed through his genes, and the other is a notion that man cannot improve himself because the only things that cause change are the predictable and unwavering natural laws of the universe.

The Fixed Mindset & Its Pillars

The purpose of this chapter, then, is to discuss how the doctrine of genetic essentialism contributes to the fixed mindset. Information on determinism will be presented in the chapters to follow. We provided the definition of “genetic essentialism” previously, but here it is again for reference72:

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Definition of “Genetic Essentialism”

Genetic Essentialism: …[a reduction of] the self to a molecular entity, equating human beings, in all their social, historical, and moral complexity, with their genes

Source: “The DNA mystique: the gene as a cultural icon” (excerpt)

***

Although essentialist beliefs, themselves, are quite old, it was only in the latter part of the last century that they came to be acknowledged by the scientific community as playing a significant role in modern Western culture.

Psychological Essentialism

In 1989, Douglas Medin introduced a concept he called “psychological essentialism” that addresses the current role of essentialism in society. Medin defines said term as73:

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Definition of “Psychological Essentialism” (per Douglas Medin)

Psychological Essentialism: …people’s representations of things reflect a belief that these things have essences or underlying natures that make them what they are

Source: “In genes we trust…” (excerpt)

***

Medin sought to explain a phenomenon he had discovered about human tendencies, and psychological essentialism was part of his explanation. The tendency in question is the fact that some individuals often group people together into categories when they attempt to explain why people look, think, and act the way they do. What is often cited as the reason for the categorization is genetics.

You have probably witnessed this phenomenon from time to time and did not even realize it. However, continuous exposure to this type of material may have a dramatic impact on your life. For example, when a person from Kenya wins a running event at a marathon, people exclaim,“Of course he won, he’s from Kenya!” Reporters attribute the ability of Kenyans to run quickly to their genes and their culture. And it is true that genetics and childhood environment contribute significantly to man’s characteristics, but these factors alone can still not be used to accurately predict future achievements. The scientific community recognizes that there are many other factors, and much research remains to be done in this area to determine what those factors are and what impact they have.

Similar to Dweck’s concept of the fixed mindset, Medin proposed that many people view man as having characteristics that are constant and immutable — ones that remain unchanged throughout life. If a person learned to play the guitar at some point in his life, the essentialist would probably figure the person carried some sort of guitar-playing ability in his essence right from birth. And that he simply did not realize this innate ability until later in life. When questioned why the person did not play the guitar previously or appeared to have little talent playing the guitar earlier, the essentialist would probably claim that the ability in his essence had simply not expressed itself…but the ability was always there.

You will note that of course at this juncture there is no way to prove or disprove what metaphysical phenomena are embedded in each individual. Mainstream science does not study metaphysical phenomena. So to scientists, claims about a metaphysical essence fall under the category of “unfalsifiable” — they can neither be proved nor disproved.

It should also be noted that while it is impossible for scientists to prove or disprove genetic essentialism directly (because of the role of metaphysical phenomena in the doctrine), they [+can +]prove it is incorrect by proving certain aspects of it are false. The aspects in question are namely the notions that genes are both constant and immutable, and that they likewise result in constant and immutable characteristics. We will discuss how modern science eventually proved these claims to be incorrect in a later chapter.

Based on the research of Medin, as well as that of Dweck and her colleagues, we see the common belief in a constant and immutable essence among members of the general public. It is a belief in characteristics that control what a person looks like and what he is capable of throughout his entire life. Note that there is actually no scientifically-verifiable evidence of the essence that gives individuals their different characteristics. Instead, there is only the [+belief +]that the essence is there, that it is constant and immutable, and this is enough to have a major impact on personal development. Given the level of impact it has, it seems only reasonable to question this common steadfast belief.

The Common Misunderstanding of Genes

To the layman, genes seem to fit the bill as constant and immutable sources of physical characteristics…characteristics that are likewise constant and immutable. Psychologists Illan Dar-Nimrod and Steven Heine explain this idea further74:

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A View of Genes as a Physical Representation of a Metaphysical Essence

The defining elements of psychological essentialism (i.e., immutable, fundamental, homogeneous, discrete, natural) are similar to the common lay perception of genes. Such similarity suggests that members who are assumed to share a distinct genetic makeup are also assumed to share their essence. People’s understanding of genes may thus serve as an essence placeholder, allowing people to infer their own and others’ abilities and tendencies on the basis of assumed shared genes. The tendency to infer a person’s characteristics and behaviors from his or her perceived genetic makeup is termed genetic essentialism. As Nelkin and Lindee (1995)* put it, “genetic essentialism reduces the self to a molecular entity, equating human beings, in all their social, historical, and moral complexity, with their genes” (p. 2).

Source: “Genetic essentialism: on the deceptive determinism of DNA” (excerpt)

***

*Reference75

So here we have laypeople being misled by a non-scientific idea that relies on scientific-sounding “facts” to make it more believable to the layman. The problem is that the common lay perception of genes is completely inaccurate: genes are not constant, immutable, or homogeneous among people of similar physical characteristics. To the contrary, genes can be turned on and off, depending on their interactions with the environment. It is the turning on and off of genes that can result in the physical changes we see, such as: changes in hair color, eye color, behavior patterns, and more. Considering this variability, it is impossible for genes to remain constant, immutable, or homogeneous.

Cognitive Dissonance

What is basically going on here is something psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.” The term is defined as follows76:

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Definition of “Cognitive Dissonance”

Cognitive Dissonance: the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in a person is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: the person rejects, explains away, or avoids the new information, persuades himself that no conflict really exists, [etc.]…

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

An example of cognitive dissonance is when a person receives new accurate information that should for all intents and purposes revise his views, yet he continues to hold onto his old inaccurate beliefs. Such is the condition of individuals that continue to believe in genetic essentialism. As we will discuss in a later chapter, modern science has conclusively proved that human characteristics are not fixed, and neither are genes. Despite the universal acknowledgement of the flaws in genetic essentialist views, many people in modern society continue to hold them. These beliefs can pose a significant hindrance to personal development.

Summary

Genetic essentialism, psychological essentialism, cognitive dissonance…Wow! Okay, so some of these terms we’ve seen before, but there are a few new definitions too. No need to worry, though. Trust us when we tell you, this stuff is pretty straight forward.

Essentialism is a set of beliefs that relates to the essence of stuff, more specifically, the essence of people. It’s a view of people as having characteristics that can’t be changed. According to this view, if you were to change these characteristics, the person would be someone (or something) completely different.

Psychological essentialism is basically the same thing as essentialism, only it clarifies that this view of man originates in people’s heads. It has nothing to do with objective reality.

We then explain how essentialism eventually became genetic essentialism. Genetic essentialism is the belief that the essence that makes people who they are is in their genes.

Toward the end of the 20th century, more and more laypeople began to learn stuff about genes. Only, as we talked about before, they were unable to actually absorb the new information. So instead of learning how genes really work, they learned some sort of twisted version, and kept on believing old inaccurate information. People viewed genes as a physical sign of a person’s essence. Genes were believed to not change and basically made you who you are. This is how genetic essentialism was born.

We refer to and define cognitive dissonance, because as mentioned above, people sometimes twist their perception of reality when it conflicts with their existing beliefs.

Chapter 12. Determinism

Similar to the manner in which believing in the doctrine of essentialism can hinder personal growth, so too can subscribing to the doctrine of determinism. The definition of “determinism” was stated before, but here it is again for reference77:

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Definition of “Determinism”

Determinism: in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes…

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

As a diagram, determinism would look something like this, where when condition A is followed by condition B, the only possible condition that could follow thereafter is C:

Determinism

Determinism is a view that holds man as being powerless to create any real changes both in himself and in the environment. Any changes that appear to be caused by man’s decisions and activities are understood to actually be caused by the natural forces of the universe (and nothing else). It is believed that since a person is endowed with certain genes or had a certain upbringing, that he will only have certain characteristics. That is to say that he will be a musician, or a carpenter…and that he will be highly intelligent, or just average, etc. According to this belief, it would be futile for an individual to try to improve himself because his characteristics are predictable — hence the hindrance to personal growth.

The doctrine of determinism traces back to over two thousand years ago, but its popularity in Western culture began within the scientific community during the Scientific Revolution (circa 17th century AD). It gained favor with the rest the general population soon thereafter. But since the early 19th century, the doctrine has fallen out of favor with the scientific community. But just as how essentialism stuck around — gradually morphing into genetic essentialism (despite the lack of scientific evidence to support this new view) — so, too, did determinism stay in the picture and take on different forms (see the figure below).

Deterministic Beliefs & Theories

We discuss two forms of determinism (biological determinism and behaviorism) in this chapter. But we save one version — determinism by upbringing (Freudian theory) — for the chapter to follow.

Scientists that studied human development leading up to the 20th century could basically be categorized under one of two groups. The first were those that believed that all human behaviors were responses to stimuli. They believed in “behaviorism,” which is defined below78.

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Definition of “Behaviorism”

(Classical) Behaviorism: a highly influential academic school of psychology that…was concerned exclusively with measurable and observable data and excluded ideas, emotions, and the consideration of inner mental experience and activity in general. In behaviorism, the organism is seen as “responding” to conditions (stimuli) set by the outer environment and by inner biological processes.

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

The theory of behaviorism views adults as stimulus-response machines. Before people grow up to become adults, the theory proposes that they can be trained just as animals are trained to become a doctor, a lawyer, or a tradesman. The person’s own thoughts and feelings have no influence over his personal development.

Biological Determinism

The other prominent group leading up to the 20th century was composed of scientists who believed that intelligence, traits, behaviors, and abilities could all be accurately predicted based on a person’s biology, namely his genes, without the input of the environment. This is the doctrine of “biological determinism,” which is defined as79:

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Definition of “Biological Determinism”

Biological Determinism: …the idea that most human characteristics, physical and mental, are determined at conception by hereditary factors passed from parent to offspring… [It implies] a rigid causation largely unaffected by environmental factors…

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

You will note that biological determinism was not based on previous experiments where future characteristics were accurately predicted. Instead, it was based on the assumption that it would be possible one day to predict human characteristics with the proper technology. In the early 20th century, the biologists followed suit with the physicists in the realization that future conditions can never be predicted with absolute precision based on biology, namely a person’s genes, and that the environment and other factors always play a role in human development. This shift in view began with the rediscovery of Gregory Mendel’s work, although a fair number of scientists (namely those referred to as eugenicists, who we will discuss in Chapter 15) continued to maintain the old view for many years thereafter. Today, like other ideas that are deterministic in nature, biological determinism has been proved false by the scientific community. Nonetheless, it continues to have a significant effect on modern society.

Summary

We talked about “determinism” before. It’s an idea that boils down to predictability. Everything is thought to be perfectly predictable. As a byproduct of this assumption, man has to function like a gear in a machine. He can’t have characteristics that are consistently changing and he can’t have any real impact on the environment.

The idea of determinism is very old — it’s been around for at least a couple thousand years. But it really gained attention at the time of the Scientific Revolution. Of course today, scientists know the idea of determinism is false, but it continues to affect modern society.

So now we have two other ideas that are related to the idea of determinism. First is “behaviorism,” which is an approach social scientists commonly used years ago to analyze people. It examines only a person’s behaviors in an effort to understand the individual, and ignores his thoughts and feelings. It’s a deterministic idea because it views people as just things that automatically respond to the environment.

Next is “biological determinism.” This was an old idea where the environment was assumed to have basically no role in human development. Only genes make a person who he is. Scientists later proved this idea is incorrect, but it still affects modern society.

Chapter 13. Freudian Theory

When it came to beliefs about human development in the early part of the 20th century, a large number of people in the US sided with the eugenicists — advocates of eugenics. “Eugenics” is defined as follows80:

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Definition of “Eugenics”

Eugenics: the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans…

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

The eugenicists believed that a person’s life could be accurately predicted based on his genes. This belief was popular in Nazi Germany, but it was popular in the US first, as we will discuss. As the century wore on, however, more and more people began to seek an alternative, and many scientists suggested that accurate predictions could be made based on a person’s upbringing instead. The two positions became the opposing sides of the nature-nurture debate, in which the Freudian theorists were on the nurture side. To be clear, though, both positions are deterministic, and both were eventually proved to be based on incorrect views of human development.

What Is Freudian Theory?

Freudian theory begins with the notion that one’s adult personality and behavior are crucially determined by early childhood experiences, especially those sexual in nature81. Neurologist Sigmund Freud believed sexual abuse in children and sexual repression were the causes of numerous problems among adults, namely anxiety, phobias, hysteria, obsessions, and neurasthenia. According to Freud, memories of the abuse are stored in the subconscious mind. And over the course of the person’s life, the primal instincts of the subconscious mind could continuously overpower one’s conscious attempts to live righteously and to improve oneself.

So what constitutes an event that occurs during a person’s upbringing that will yield problems during adulthood? Is it only the most extreme cases of child abuse? Actually there is any number of types of events that, according to Freudian theory, are likely to eventually lead to future disorders. Aside from what would typically be classified as sexual abuse, many breastfeeding and toilet-training activities would fall under this category (the oral and anal stages of growth). Another supposedly troublesome activity was particular to males and was related to the so- called Oedipal period. According to Freudian theory, between the ages of three and seven, boys want to have sexual relations with their mothers, and as a result, they’re often hostile toward their fathers.

To summarize, depending on how the parents/guardians behave while the child progresses through the oral, anal, and Oedipal periods, the child may be left with permanent baggage. The slightest misstep on the part of the parents/guardians could result in a life full of suffering for the offspring.

What Makes Freudian Theory Deterministic?

Freudian theory is deterministic in that it claims all neuroses are caused by sexual problems, problems that Freud believed resided in the subconscious mind. He is often quoted as saying, “No neurosis is possible with a normal vita sexualis”82. Conversely, neuroses are only connected to an abnormal vita sexualis, which creates a deterministic link between the two conditions. There were some other theories at the time which claimed that occasionally irrational behavior has no specific cause. But unlike the other theories, Freudian theory, like many other deterministic hypotheses and theories of the time, insisted that irrational behavior [+always +]arose out of sexual problems in the subconscious mind.

The Disputed Scientific Evidence behind Freudian Theory

Today, most researchers in the social sciences have closed the book on Freudian theory due to a lack of solid scientific evidence. But just a few decades ago, the science behind the theory was still a matter of debate. This is because when the theory originally took the stage, many of its proponents claimed it was based on science.

From the early mentions of the theory in popular US media outlets, it was categorized as a “scientific theory.” (e.g. MacFarlane, 191583). Over the years, critics have remarked about the theory that whatever scientific evidence [+does +]exist is flawed, and others claimed that the theories, as stated, are unfalsifiable. It should be noted here that most scientists view any theory that cannot be tested empirically as unscientific, and this is based on NAS’ position (which we will discuss in a later chapter).

On the other hand, Freud, himself, was so sure his theory was correct that he dismissed the demand for hard scientific proof. In fact, according to Torrey84, when a psychologist told Freud he had evidence to support the theory (although the proof was disputed), “Freud responded testily that his theory needed no validation.”

Since, as of this writing, scientists tell us that a person’s life is not determined by events that occurred during one’s childhood, the question of whether Freudian theory was originally based on hard scientific facts is now somewhat irrelevant. We now know that when it comes to predicting the conditions of an adult, the person’s genes are a better indicator than one’s childhood environment, but the combination of the two above factors only account for about half of the total influence. This means two people can share the same genes (identical twins) and the same childhood environment, yet still exhibit totally different characteristics and behaviors during adulthood.

What We Can Learn from Freudian Theory

Although there has been a movement away from Freudian theory in the social sciences, there are still things we can learn from it. It should be noted that the theory retains a fair number of supporters, and that there are some parts of the theory that are not deterministic.

Granted, Freud did greatly exaggerate the degree to which upbringing influences future characteristics in individuals (from a significant contributing factor in neuroses to the one contributing factor). At the same time, however, he offered some key insights into the human mind (such as the role of subconscious mind) and behavior. Hopefully, with insight as to which aspects of Freudian theory may be a hindrance to personal growth, we can take more of the good while leaving the inaccuracies behind. We will elaborate on this later on in the text.

Summary

Freudian theory offered an alternative to the popular notion that some people are superior to others right from birth. But instead of talents and abilities being things people are just born with, these things were thought to be acquired during childhood. It held that once a person became an adult, she could no longer cultivate her skill sets, stop bad habits, and so on.

The problem with Freudian theory was that although it was an alternative to the view that was popular in the early 20th century, it was still deterministic in nature. It still claimed that people think and act in perfectly predictable ways: the person that felt she was raised poorly will have problems during her adult life, and the person that felt she was raised well will be successful.

As of today, few people in the social sciences fully support Freudian theory. The deterministic notions it promoted were completely disproven. There are, however, some positive things that came from the Freudian legacy. We discuss both the positive and negative impacts the legacy continues to have on modern society in a later chapter.

STEP 2: LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE MAIN COMPONENTS OF THE FIXED MINDSET

The Goal(s) of This Section:

• for you to learn how essentialism and determinism came to be popular doctrines in previous eras

• for you to learn how the old doctrines that support the fixed mindset continue to influence modern culture

Part 5: Essentialism/Genetic Essentialism & Determinism in Previous Eras and in Modern Culture

Chapter 14. Essentialism & Determinism in Previous Eras

We will discuss the early history of the doctrines that lie at the heart of the fixed mindset in this chapter, and will cover the later developments in the chapter to follow.

The History of Genetic Essentialism/Essentialism

The doctrine of genetic essentialism is an evolved version of essentialism. As you will recall, the definition of “essentialism” is as follows:

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Definition of “Essentialism”

Essentialism: the doctrine that the ultimate reality of things are embodied in characteristics perceptible to the senses.

***

The doctrine of essentialism is quite old, tracing as far back as Aristotle (384-322 BC) of ancient Greece, and it remained prevalent during the Scholastic Paradigm (until about 16th century AD). It held that some metaphysical substance governed the universe, including the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of man. All things were thought to have some underlying essence. And it was the underlying essence that made things what they are and controlled what things do.

Essentialism lost much of its popularity beginning with the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century. A major factor that led to the decline in popularity of the Scholastic view was the fact that Western scientists were studying the world and the heavens tirelessly. But concepts like cause and effect were fairly abstract according to this view, so many of the forces of nature continued to remain a mystery despite the researchers’ efforts. The Scholastic Paradigm would eventually be replaced by a more physical and deterministic view (as described below). But as we know, although it was temporarily displaced, the essentialist view was not completely dead.

A Brief History of Determinism

Determinism traces back to the Stoics (a couple thousand years ago) but was not a prominent doctrine until after the Scientific Revolution. Beginning with the Scientific Revolution, respected scientists came to view the universe as functioning like a watch (which had recently been invented at the time). Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and others helped to fundamentally transform the view of the universe held by the scientific community. This new view of the world gradually came to be adopted by the general public as the intelligent view. Although this mechanical view of the universe may seem rudimentary from our perspective, it served the early scientists as a sufficient starting point to finally begin to understand the patterns of the universe.

For insight as to how significant the transformation in understanding was, we need to look no further than Newton’s discovery of what are now known as Newton’s laws of motion. With the announcement of this discovery, the early scientists recognized that the movement of objects could often be precisely predicted. Using Newton’s second law of motion as an example (Mass * Acceleration = Force), it was found that if you know the mass of an object and the rate at which it is accelerating, you will be able to precisely calculate the force(s) being applied to it. Similarly, you could predict acceleration if you knew the force(s) and mass(es) involved.

One way we can see the difference between the above understanding of the universe and the earlier view put forth by Aristotle is when we consider free fall motion, which is an instance of the force of gravity accelerating an object. Aristotle believed that the speed at which an object falls was proportional to its weight. This is to say that a ten-pound ball would fall faster than a one-pound ball. Newton thought that both balls would fall to the ground at the same speed, a speed that increases over time due to gravity – and he proved it. Of course, this discovery was only one of many of the era.

It was an incredible revelation. For the first time in history, the movements of all objects in the universe could be predicted, presumably eventually with near absolute precision (with the proper instruments). As Newton and others discovered the natural laws of the universe, the laws of motion and others, the hidden mechanisms of the universe began to reveal themselves.

The early scientists were making great progress, and many began to take it one step further — envisioning the universe as a rather simple system where the conditions of any moment in the future would be the only possible successors to past conditions. They began to have sincere hopes that scientists of the future would be able to explain all the mysteries of the universe. They would just need to figure out the other (hopefully fairly straightforward) laws, and have access to precise instruments. Armed with knowledge and the proper equipment, they thought it might be eventually possible to predict all events with absolute precision.

The physicists who followed (ones of the Modern Era) eventually realized that their predecessors’ belief in a simple universe was completely incorrect. The laws that govern the universe are quite complex, and there is no such thing as absolute predictability.

Summary

The doctrine of essentialism continued to be prevalent through the 17th century. It viewed all things as deriving from some underlying essence – a substance that caused them to come into being and to act the way they act. This led to a rather abstract interpretation of scientific principles, and made it difficult to discover the mathematic equations that govern things like motion.

With the Scientific Revolution in the 18th century, however, essentialism lost its popularity, and determinism took over as the prevalent doctrine. Determinism viewed everything in the universe as gears turning in a watch. The shift was fueled by the revelations by Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and others. The new view proposed that all conditions and events were completely predictable. It initially gave way to great discoveries in science, but the scientific community recognized its flaws at the beginning of the Modern Era.

Chapter 15. Genetic Essentialism & Determinism in the 20th Century

In the 19th century, the general public was introduced to genes, but its understanding was only superficial. And the inaccurate popular view of genes allowed for the return of essentialism in an altered form: genetic essentialism. This inaccurate view continues to be a popular doctrine to this day, despite the lack of scientific support. In the end, people wanted to continue to believe that some underlying essence makes us who we are, regardless of whether it is physical or metaphysical.

Discussions on genetic essentialism were often part of the nature- nurture debate in modern culture. And leading up to the 20 th century, the debate was coming to the forefront, particularly in the political arena. It came as a byproduct of the then-current debate over immigration reform. Opponents to the influx of the new groups of immigrants insisted that such individuals were of lower intelligence and of lower overall quality than the current US population. These opinions often arose out of racist disposition. But in contrast to earlier periods, their positions were now being claimed to be based on scientific evidence.

The supporting evidence that was supposedly scientific in nature was based on genetic essentialist and deterministic ideas — ideas that lie at the heart of the fixed mindset. It was widely believed that immigrants were genetically inferior and incapable of exhibiting exceptional behavior, talents, abilities, etc. This chapter will explain how both the doctrines of genetic essentialism and determinism strongly influenced many aspects of US culture in the 20th century.

Genetic Essentialism & Biological Determinism in Modern Culture

Not unlike today, immigration reform was a hot topic in the US leading up to the 20th century. At the heart of the nature-nurture debate during that period was the question of whether people are born with certain talents and behaviors, or if they develop due to interactions with the environment during childhood. Due to the publication of then-recent scientific discoveries, the general population was becoming more familiar with genes and their role in the human body. But instead of learning about the true role of genes, they adopted a perverted understanding: one where genes were the only factor that influenced the characteristics of an individual. It was commonly believed that genes were the physical manifestation of some unchangeable underlying essence. As such, genes were unalterable. This was the doctrine of genetic essentialism.

At the same time, a fair number of researchers were fueling the fire by continuing to promote old views regarding biological determinism — claiming that man’s characteristics are determined solely by his biology, characteristics that can be predicted with absolute certainty. Thus, if a person subscribed to both the doctrine of genetic essentialism and to biological determinism, he believed that some people were inferior by nature and that they had no hope of ever being successful in life.

Given the above common misunderstanding of genes, and given the fact that people were beginning to migrate from different parts of the world in larger numbers than in years prior, fear spread in America that the influx could degrade the existing population. This fear was heightened by numerous politicians and other people interested in curbing the influx for various reasons.

The topic of immigration had long been a contentious issue in the US. In the decades prior, the targets of anti-immigration campaigns were of African or Irish descent. At the turn of the century, however, the targets were Hungarians, Bohemians, Poles, south Italians, Russian Jews, and others of southern and eastern Europe. People from these areas were immigrating into the US at a rate of about 300,000 per year, totaling almost one million by 1907. Given the relatively high rate as compared to previous years, it was easy for opponents of immigration to spread fear about the possible consequences.

What may have made the arguments against immigration particularly potent was the fact that, for the first time in history, the concerns could not be easily dismissed as having their source in mere ignorance. Instead, the concerns about inferior races infiltrating our borders were being claimed to be based on scientific evidence (something now referred to as “intellectual racism”). Many scientists of the time claimed that they could predict not only an individual’s intelligence, but also his overall worth based strictly on the person’s skull dimensions. Lacking any real evidence for their claims, it would seem that these early modern scientists had been deceived by their personal beliefs.

Likewise, the general population was similarly persuaded. Torrey explains the common (mis-)understanding of human development during this period85:

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A View of Genes as Indicators of Human Potential

The prevailing wisdom of the 1890s held that a person’s skull dimensions were entirely genetic in origin, fixed at birth, and thus could be used to distinguish the long-headed racial groups of northern Europe from the short-headed races of southern Europe…The measurement most commonly used was the cephalic index, derived by dividing the maximum width of a skull by its maximum length and then multiplying by 100; values of less than 80 were defined as long-headed and more than 80 as short-headed.

Source: Fraudian Fraud… (excerpt)

***

Pseudoscience was being used as a weapon and it was having a very real impact (e.g. Walker, 189686). Francis Galton (the wealthy half-cousin of Charles Darwin), Charles B. Davenport, Henry F. Osborn, and Madison Grant of New York City, along with the founders of the Immigration Restriction League (which consisted of three wealthy graduates of Harvard University) contributed to the frenzy.

The influence of eugenicists was not limited to small circles, but rather was quite widespread. It could even be seen at contests held at state fairs where awards were given to “Grade A Individuals,” people with supposedly superior overall worth due to their pedigree. In addition,numerous states were passing mandatory sterilization laws, with over twenty states participating by 1928. Torrey elaborates87:

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US Sterilization Laws (Early 20th Century)

Compulsory sterilization, restriction of immigration, and racism were all ingredients in the American eugenics movement as the nation moved toward participation in World War I. Nothing symbolized this convergence better than Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race [published in 1916]. With a preface by Henry Osborn and a review in Science, which called it “a work of solid merit,” the book quickly sold more than 16,000 copies and was purported to have marked a turning point in convincing Americans that immigrants in general, and Jews in particular, were indeed threats to their gene pool.

Source: Fraudian Fraud… (excerpt)

(Italics in original)

***

The Advocates of the Importance of Nurture in the Early 20th Century

While the eugenicists continued to compile evidence they claimed to be scientific and make claims thereon, those on the nurture side of the debate continued to defend their own position. Some of the most outspoken individuals on the nurture side came to strongly rely on Freudian theory. In the early 20th century, Freud was beginning to leave his mark on America, but as we will discuss in the following chapter, interest in Freudian theory would go into hibernation for a few decades before later returning to the public eye with fervor. Thus, the proponents of the importance of nurture struggled to fight the eugenicists for several decades without a unified front…they were simply on defense.

[* How Nazi Germany Influenced the Nature- Nurture Debate in the US *]

Throughout the 1920’s, the two sides continued to exchange blows, trying ever more to debase the other side’s argument with supposedly scientific studies and interpretations. By the end of the decade, however, concerns about immigration were quickly being replaced by concerns about other pressing issues. To be specific, the stock market had begun to plummet toward the end of 1929 and soon gave way to the Great Depression. Probably in response to the Great Depression, by the mid 1930’s, the influx of immigrants had reduced so drastically that there were more people emigrating from +]the US than [+to the US. The shift in public interest to personal survival and the reduction in immigration rates helped to largely remove the nature-nurture debate from the public eye, at least for the time being.

Despite the lack of public interest, the battle carried on, only in lesser public arenas. And as time passed, the odds began to shift from favoring the eugenicists to favoring the Freudian theorists. The eugenicists were rapidly losing supporters. Even Henry Ford, a well-known supporter of the eugenicists’ cause, had moved on.

Granted, the eugenicists’ cause was greatly weakened by the developments throughout the late 1920’s and 30’s. But the most critical blow would not come until early in the following decade (and beyond the country’s borders, no less). It was with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany that the eugenicists would begin to truly lose favor with the US population.

After having been appointed chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hitler pushed for the Reichstag (the lower chamber of the federal parliament) to pass a Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. Torrey writes88:

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A Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring (in Nazi Germany)

The law mandated compulsory sterilization for presumed genetic conditions including schizophrenia, mental retardation, epilepsy, and severe alcoholism, and it was to be administered through seventeen hundred genetic health courts. The German law was apparently closely patterned after a 1922 model statute for use by American states, which had been drawn up by Davenport and the staff of the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor…

Source: Fraudian Fraud… (excerpt)

***

It is important to note that sterilization was illegal in Germany prior to 1933. But since the US had sterilized approximately 20,000 individuals, most of them involuntarily, the Germans were able to build on American precedent to change their own laws.

Similar to the US, aside from sterilization in Germany, there were other movements that were in sync with the eugenicists’ cause. For instance, there was concern about the falling birthrate. So to counteract this development, the government was issuing loans to couples where both members were of German descent. Furthermore, there was much propaganda promoting “quality marriages” and “racial hygiene,” all of which served to advance new legislation in Germany and the eugenicists’ movement in general.

As Hitler gained more power, efforts to “cleanse” Germany intensified. With the belief that some races were genetically superior to others, Nazi Germany proceeded to exterminate millions of people under the guise that the targets were inferior, and that these people were somehow degrading the rest of the population. It should be noted that this activity was simply an evolved version of the then-recent social policies on sterilization.

Given the fact that so much focus was being put on genetic superiority in Germany and throughout the rest of Europe, coupled with the waning interest of the same in the US, it seems only reasonable that researchers on the nurture side of the debate (most notably, the Freudian theorists) would want to come to the US. And for certain they did, as concludes a study89 performed by Laura Fermi.

The above developments would all serve to set the stage for Freudian theory to soon take America by storm. As we have seen throughout this text, however, old beliefs never completely die. Although the eugenicists’ cause would be largely derailed over the course of the next few decades, the doctrine of genetic essentialism would continue to influence the Western psyche well into the future. In fact, it was not until the 1970’s that all US states even revoked their laws requiring people with genetic defects to be sterilized (to prevent producing future offspring with potential defects).

Despite the progress that we made throughout the early part of the Modern Era in the battle against genetic essentialism, the doctrine continued to maintain a presence. And it remains a fairly popular doctrine today (but most people are not aware of it).

Another Prominent Deterministic Theory of Modern Culture

Prior to World War II, the predominant school of thought within the social sciences, especially when it came to childrearing, was behaviorism. Behaviorism was defined in Chapter 12, but the definition is offered again below.

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Definition of “Behaviorism”

(Classical) Behaviorism: a highly influential academic school of psychology that…was concerned exclusively with measurable and observable data and excluded ideas, emotions, and the consideration of inner mental experience and activity in general. In behaviorism, the organism is seen as “responding” to conditions (stimuli) set by the outer environment and by inner biological processes.

Source: Britannica (excerpt)

***

John B. Watson was one of the biggest proponents of behaviorism during the era. He claimed the child’s brain to be a tabulae rasa, a blank slate, that takes shape based strictly on input from the environment (you will note that this view of man traces as far back as Aristotle). Watson was so sure that children are the products of their environment that he claimed he could be given any “dozen healthy infants” and with proper training, the child would grow up to become any type of specialist.90

Although behaviorism may appear to be nondeterministic on the surface (due to the fact that the child’s future can be actively shaped), it still has deterministic roots in that the person’s future is highly predictable based strictly on input from the environment and other people. This theory claimed that the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of the individual played no role in shaping his own life.

After World War II, there was a large shift in interest, both among members of the general public and practitioners of the social sciences, from the theory of behaviorism to Freudian theory. Like behaviorism,Freudian theory had a deterministic aspect. So perhaps it is for this reason (combined with the other conditions of the time), that Freudian theory became so popular during this period, instead of some other view of man.

Mainstream Science on Intelligence Leading Up to the 21st Century

In 1997, the journal Intelligence published a statement91 titled “Mainstream Science on Intelligence.” The statement was a collaboration of 52 academic researchers in fields related to intelligence testing. It was claimed to represent the views of most members of the scientific community of the time. As to whether or not it actually did fairly represent the scientific community’s position, it should be noted that Donald Campbell, former president of the American Psychological Association, has since questioned the expertise of several of the signees.

Following are a few excerpts that suggest the fixed mindset was alive and well approaching the turn of the millennium (additional excerpts can be found in Appendix D:

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Mainstream Science on Intelligence

• Point #17: Although the environment is important in creating IQ differences, we do not know yet how to manipulate it to raise low IQs permanently. Whether recent attempts show promise is still a matter of considerable scientific debate.

• Point #19: There is no persuasive evidence that the IQ bell curves for different racial-ethnic groups are converging. Surveys in some years show that the gaps in academic achievement have narrowed a bit for some races, ages, school subjects and skill levels, but this picture seems too mixed to reflect a general shift in IQ levels themselves.

• Point #22: There is no definitive answer to why IQ bell curves differ across racial-ethnic groups…Most experts believe that environment is important in pushing the bell curves apart, but that genetics could be involved too.

• Point #23: Racial-ethnic differences are somewhat smaller but still substantial for individuals from the same socio-economic backgrounds. To illustrate, black students from prosperous families tend to score higher in IQ than blacks from poor families, but they score no higher, on average, than whites from poor families.

Source: Intelligence(excerpt)

***

As we see above, some researchers continued to make bold statements that reinforced the fundamental tenements of the fixed mindset through the end of the 20th century. While none of the points discussed sound very favorable for all races eventually reaching a level of equality when it comes to intelligence, Point #23 paints the bleakest picture. It claims that even when researchers successfully create a positive environment for children of certain races, at best, they can only become smarter than their counterparts of the same race by switching environments. However, they can never become as smart as the lowest performing lighter skinned students. So the message here is that low intelligence is largely genetic and fairly unalterable.

To be clear, this article may have been an accurate representation of the general consensus of members of the scientific community at the time (no article with as many supporters was published in a large media outlet refuting it) — but the general consensus has since changed.

Summary

What we all believe about ourselves and the world around us is heavily influenced by the beliefs commonly held by the society we live in. And those held by today’s society are heavily influenced by conditions of the past.

The fact is, just a century ago, it was still commonly believed that some people were superior to others right from birth. The events in Nazi Germany helped to make such ideas far less popular. Around that time, Freudian theory gained popularity, which is a series of events we discuss in the following chapter. The theory proposed that skill sets and healthy behaviors were learned, but they had to be learned prior to the start of adulthood. Both notions assumed that man’s characteristics and abilities are perfectly predictable.

By the end of the 20th century, the scientific community was beginning to prove that man is a malleable creature throughout his life. But scientists didn’t have quite enough evidence to firmly refute claims to the contrary — this only came in the new millennium.

In later chapters, we will explain how advancements in modern science have recently proved that this view (the view of genes as being the most important factor in accurately predicting future human conditions) is incorrect. But first, we need to discuss how Freudian theory gained popularity during the 20th century.

Chapter 16. Freudian Theory in the 20th Century

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the history of Freudian theory in modern American culture. Despite the fact that it lacked solid scientific support, American public interest in the theory began to mount. It is important to point out that the rise in public interest in the theory was not at all linear. Freudian theory became initially popular in the first few decades of the 20th century, but then sort of fell flat for a while before eventually returning with fervor (only to lose popularity again toward the end of the century).

The Early Rise and the Early Fall of Public Interest in Freudian Theory

Freud’s influence in America began in 1909 with a lecture that was held at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Prior to his first appearance in the US, Freudian theory consisted mainly of the claim that specific conditions/experiences (such as “voluntary or involuntary abstinence, sexual intercourse with incomplete gratification [and] coitus interruptus”92) played a role in the development of pathological issues throughout one’s life. As of the date of his first visit to the US, however, his theory had broadened to claim that all neuroses are caused by sexual problems.

His timing was actually impeccable. In the 1920’s, the US was in the midst of a sexual revolution, and Freud gave newspaper and magazine article writers plenty to write about. Unfortunately for Freud and his supporters, though, the public’s interest during this period was short-lived. There were many articles and such published on the theory in the first few decades, but by the mid 1930’s, the general public was becoming concerned with other issues. The Great Depression was well underway, and with the change in the economy came a reduction in the public’s interest in sex-related material. Freudian theory and psychoanalysis quickly became largely forgotten about — left mostly for intellectuals to squabble over.

Renewed Public Interest in the Theory

After receiving relatively little attention from the general public for a few decades, Freudian theory returned again to the limelight in the late 1950’s, but this time with far more vigor.

Why did the transformation of public perception of Freudian theory occur? Torrey believes the change in heart of the general public with regard to Freud arose out of the nature-nurture debate. And, but not for that debate, “…Freud’s name would today be merely a footnote in social history, cited as one of the early advocates for sexual reform…” Instead, Torrey writes, “Freud achieved a mission and purpose greater than even he had envisioned.”93

As time wore on, Freud would come to be hailed by some as one of the most influential characters of the 20th century. Interest in Freudian theory reached its peak in the US in the 1950’s. And its appeal endured for a few more decades before it was eventually replaced by other schools of thought.

Although at this point, it has been largely abandoned, the theory and related deterministic beliefs continue to subtly influence the popular view of man. And the impact of such beliefs can be observed to this day — but it is not all negative, as we will discuss in the next chapter.

Summary

In the debate over nature versus nurture, Freudian theory was on the nurture side. And what we see here is that there is a time and a place for everything. In the 1920’s, the US had a sexual revolution. And seemingly, since Freudian theory had to do with sex, the theory became quite popular. But when the Great Depression happened, people had bigger things to worry about. As a result, interest in the theory faded, like it was just a fad of sorts. The notion of superiority right from birth continued on.

Things started to change, though, after people saw what happened in Nazi Germany. The general public recognized the danger of believing in predictability based on biology. It seems we didn’t completely learn our lesson, though. We continued to believe in determinism — this version was predictability based on upbringing.

It is because of the prominence of such deterministic beliefs (whether by nature or nurture) in the past that we struggle to overcome them in present-day society.

Chapter 17. Evidence of the Fixed Mindset & Related Beliefs in the New Millennium

Modern science has made great strides in the past couple of decades, especially in the social sciences. Of course, the doctrine of genetic essentialism never had any scientific support, so there was nothing to actually challenge except the beliefs held by the general population. But the doctrine of determinism did at one time have the support of the scientific community. So in this regard, whereas researchers in years past had struggled to conclusively overturn determinist claims about man, they can now confidently dismiss such claims. As of today, the scientific community is quite sure that man is a malleable creature.

We need to remember, however, that up until the last decade or so, man’s ability to cultivate his skill sets and behaviors over the course of his entire life was in question. And in terms of social progress, where ingrained beliefs are hard to change, a decade is a relatively short period of time. As such, the rest of society has not quite caught up with the revelation. Most people continue to harbor old beliefs, and it is evident in many aspects of the social fabric — everything from social policy to health care to childrearing.

How Individuals with the Fixed Mindset Tend to Influence Social Policy

In a multipart study (Ratan, Savani, Naidu & Dweck, 2012)94, Dweck and her colleagues set out to determine whether or not a person’s mindset might influence how one would distribute critical resources. They were curious to learn if people with the fixed mindset would vote for social policies that give fewer resources to people that exhibit inferior potential.

In the study, Dweck and her colleagues found that people with the fixed mindset [+do +]tend to favor offering more and better resources to individuals they perceive as having a higher level of potential. They found this by first identifying the fixed-mindset individuals, and then questioning them on how they would distribute educational funds. The researchers then taught them that intelligence is malleable, and tested them again to see if the participants would respond differently after having been educated on the matter. The researchers concluded:

Study 4 showed that participants who were exposed to the idea that nearly everyone can become highly intelligent were more supportive of distributing educational funds more equally across schools serving wealthier and poorer communities.

So, not only did Dweck and her team discover that the fixed mindset had a scientifically measurable impact on the way people choose to distribute resources, they also found that when a person’s mindset changes, they tend to distribute critical resources more equally.

Apparent Real World Evidence of the Fixed Mindset Affecting Social Policy

The study by Dweck and her colleagues discussed in the previous subsection suggests that people with the fixed mindset tend to distribute critical resources based on the potential they believe people to have. If a person with the fixed mindset is voting on social policy, and thinks that people of some races or economic status are smarter, he is likely to assign better resources to that group.

The finding from the above-referenced study is quite interesting, but can we find real world evidence of this phenomenon? It seems we can find such evidence, and we need to look no further than our public education system. To be specific, the US is one of four countries in the world that generally distributes our educational resources based on wealth — the schools in wealthier areas have more teachers and better teaching tools than the schools in poorer areas. In most other countries, while being from a wealthy family already offers a sizable advantage, at least the access to teachers and other resources is balanced while the children are at school. The Programme for International Student Advancement (PISA) reports95:

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How the US favors Socioeconomically Advantaged Students

Among OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries, only Israel, Slovenia, Turkey and the United States favour socioeconomically advantaged schools with access to more teachers… The financing of schools in the United States, which is dependent on local taxation and thus closely related to housing costs, may contribute to concentrations of disadvantaged pupils in poorly resourced schools.

In the majority of OECD countries, including the United States, more advantaged students also enjoy a higher proportion of better-qualified full-time teachers. The picture is similar when examining schools whose principals report that the lack of qualified teachers hinders learning. All of this suggests that ensuring an equitable distribution of resources is still a major challenge for the United States…

Source: “Strong performers and successful reformers in education: …” (excerpt)

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The fact that we give students at disadvantaged schools less access to teachers seems to be further confirmation of Dweck et al.’s findings (the majority of Americans has the fixed mindset), and confirmation that we manage our social policies accordingly. This may also be further evidence that the doctrines of determinism and genetic essentialism continue to play major roles in our lives, regardless of whether we personally subscribe to them or not. Where you go to high school, where you go to college, and what your career path is later in life are all events that are strongly influenced by the socioeconomic status of the place you were raised in. Children in wealthier neighborhoods perform better right from the beginning, and their advantage is further enhanced by the public education system due to the way it is configured.

Of course this is tied back to the fixed mindset in that it seems we, as a country, believe that people living in wealthier neighborhoods are more likely to produce better-performing offspring. Again, we see the notions of genetic essentialism and determinism — that each child is born with a certain level of ability, and it is only fair to cater to children who are born with higher potential.

Perhaps the above would not be as big of an issue if the US was providing a superior level of education overall. But unfortunately, this is not the case. On the PISA test, of the 34 participating countries, the US ranks as follows:

• lower quarter in mathematics

• mid-range in reading

• lower half in science

As you can see, our scores are only mediocre. And this is despite the fact that, incredibly, our cost per student is second highest of all the countries in the program.

Average Performance of US Students on International Tests versus per-Student Funding

But the key is that when you break down the statistics, it’s apparent that kids in wealthy areas are receiving an above-average education while kids in poorer areas are receiving a subpar education.

Maybe you are thinking that it makes sense to give the best resources to the children who are the best and brightest. But we need to remember that our assessment of which students are the best and brightest is strongly influenced by our beliefs (which, for most people in the US, are genetically essentialist and deterministic). So it is quite possible that we are inadvertently giving high-potential kids a lackluster education. OECD recognizes this issue and recommends a more even distribution in its report.

And the differences in education from one student to the next begin early. Most schools employ what is known as student “tracking,” where teachers and administrators try to categorize students according to their potential. Tracking systems are designed to prepare each student for the career he or she is most likely to have as an adult. Depending on the school system, tracking may begin in late elementary school or at the middle school level. Students who are believed to have high potential are put in “advanced placement” classes, students believed to have average potential are put in normal classes, and students believed to have low potential are put on the lower tracks.

It should be noted that there is a high correlation between the initial track placement and the student’s outcome, such as going to college or learning a trade. So by the time most socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescents are entering high school, their teachers already know that they are probably not college-bound. Tracking systems typically allow for a decent amount of flexibility for students to switch from one track to another if they demonstrate ability. But one would imagine that it would be quite difficult for students in lower tracks to move to higher ones, at least without getting a tutor to teach them everything they missed out on (which they probably do not have the money for).

Advocates of student tracking claim that it properly prepares each student according to his or her (supposed) ability. They point out that there are other options available, but they each have their disadvantages. You could teach all students the same, but the lessons would be over the heads of some kids and if you stopped to explain things to them, the advanced kids would get bored. It seems it’s true — there is no simple solution to the problem, but perhaps we can learn from the countries that have successful education systems.

Then, there is the issue of poor areas having a higher concentration of completely dysfunctional schools. In any given poor area, there are a large number of public schools that education equality advocates term “dropout factories.” Parents try desperately to switch their children to the better schools in the area. But switching can be difficult because so many people are trying to get into the better schools that admission is based on a lottery system. To the amazement of many, the children who successfully switch to the better schools are much more likely to go to college. In sum, it is apparent that the present social policies are failing our youth, particularly those with lower-socioeconomic backgrounds.

Of course, not every child dreams of attending college — some are interested in learning a trade. But let us not kid ourselves. No matter what career a child is interested in pursuing, he needs to have a good education in order to be competitive.

The disparities among students of varying-socioeconomic backgrounds are well-known to policy makers, most of whom are elected by us, members of the general public. So long as our representatives are adequately representing us, it seems that we, as a society, believe that kids from socioeconomically disadvantaged households are generally incapable of becoming as intelligent and of performing as well as their counterparts.

Evidence of Freudian Theory in the New Millennium — Both Inside & Outside the Therapist’s Office

Just like genetic essentialist and other deterministic views of man, Freudian theory gives us yet another false reason to give up the hope of trying to improve ourselves. It is the false notion that your life is governed by things that are completely beyond your control. Whereas the other doctrines assigned all of the control over one’s life to either genes or the natural forces of the universe, Freudian theory assigned all of the control to the subconscious mind. Freud proposed that if a person had experiences during childhood that he perceived to be disturbing, the subconscious mind could control the brain and body throughout adulthood (thus rendering the conscious mind basically useless).

As of today, Freudian theory has largely fallen out of favor with psychologists in the West. But that does not mean that the theory has completely disappeared from the modern paradigm. Torrey points out that Americans continue to be influenced by Freudian theory in numerous ways — some of the impacts are positive and some are negative.96

On the positive side, we have the common recognition of the importance of the subconscious mind, the development of psychotherapy, and the progression of the Humanist movement. With regard to the subconscious mind, one could argue that Freud was one of the most influential characters in ensuring that the public recognized its importance in the personal development process. Although Freud suggested that the subconscious mind is capable of basically hijacking the brain and continuously leading man to think and behave in primal and self- sabotaging ways, few people today still contend (as they did prior to the popularity of Freudian theory) that the subconscious mind does not exist, or that its role in personal development is insignificant. Acknowledging the power of the subconscious mind, Freud suggested that dreams (being a window into the subconscious mind, thus a window into the trauma suffered as a child) should be analyzed in order to better understand adult thought and behavior patterns.

Next, Freud brought about increased interest in psychotherapy and counseling. Today, most approaches used by counselors are not Freudian- based, per se, but a majority of them [+do +]focus tremendously on childhood experiences with the aim of mitigating their negative impacts. This tactic is certainly in line with Freud’s work. Torrey does not view the tactic, itself, as a positive thing (as we discuss later in this subsection). But what is positive is the fact that the theory “…promoted a more inner-directed culture in which intrapersonal feelings and interpersonal relations are accorded greater importance and life is said to be more than merely the accumulation of material possessions.”

Finally, as a byproduct of the explosion of interest in psychotherapy, came the propagation of the Humanist movement. Although no literature indicates that Freud, himself, was a humanist, his suggestions to cure the ills of mankind with psychoanalysis fed into the humanist cause of attempting to advance the human civilization. To summarize Torrey’s view on how Americans benefit from the Freudian legacy, then, we can say we have the following: 1) a better appreciation for the subconscious mind; 2) a better appreciation for intrapersonal feelings and interpersonal relations; and 3) access to countless psychotherapists and counselors whose job it is to improve our lives.

Granted, the Freudian legacy continues to yield some significant benefits to American thought and culture. But on the other hand, it also continues to yield some considerably negative impacts, as well. It is the negative impacts that we should be particularly cautious of because they have the potential to hinder our personal growth. Torrey summarizes the negative impacts as narcissism, irresponsibility, denigration of women, and misallocated resources.

We begin with narcissism. Freud suggested that personal development comes when people put their primary attention on their [+own +]happiness. In doing so, people were encouraged to be less concerned with the welfare of others. Torrey believes that Freudian theory encourages narcissism in modern America. Of course narcissism had always been a force to be reckoned with in the world, so this phenomenon did not begin with Freud. But perhaps we are where we are today because the theory contributed to the development of the views that are common to the so-called “Me” generation (Americans born between 1946 and 1964). This generation may have been the first to find narcissism to be not only tempting, but rather trendy. People were proud of the fact that their primary focus was themselves.

Next on Torrey’s list is irresponsibility. He explains that the philosophy of rationalized irresponsibility was intrinsic in the theory right from the earliest days (e.g. Horn, 198997). Torrey thinks this was the logical evolution of “…the belief that individuals are governed by powerful subconscious forces, arising from early childhood experiences, which thereby usurp their freedom of action.”98 Since the individual is thought to have no power over his subconscious mind, when the person engages in undesirable thought and behavior patterns, he can presume they’re the result of errors made by his parents during his upbringing. This presumption relieves him of all responsibility: he basically had no choice but to engage in undesirable thought and behavior patterns. These types of beliefs are deterministic in nature, and these are the types of beliefs that are so debilitating in modern culture.

Torrey also believes a result of the Freudian legacy is the denigration of women. Apparently, Freud thought that women are anatomically and intellectually inferior beings. The impact of this notion on the beholder and his or her engaging parties would obviously vary depending on the sex of the individual: for instance, a woman would tend to have self-esteem issues whereas a man would tend to have difficulty cultivating meaningful relationships with the women in his life. In addition, this belief could certainly hinder the advancement of our civilization as a whole.

Finally, Torrey claims the Freudian legacy has influenced modern society in a way that has led us to misallocate our resources. The vast majority of the nation’s psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers perform their work using methods that are either directly or indirectly based on Freudian theory. The primary example of this is the amount of time people spend talking to therapists about what their mother and father did (or did not do) when they were growing up. He believes that resources allocated to these pursuits are a waste because the benefits of pursuing these goals are highly overrated (but of course other professionals in the field disagree). Torrey believes another aspect of the misallocation of resources is the loss of professionals who spend most of their time acting exclusively as “…psychotherapists, tinkering with individual egos rather than trying to transform social systems.”99

Torrey suggests the biggest losers are individuals with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and manic-depressiveness. He explains100 that such individuals:

…are both poor candidates for Freudian inspired counseling and psychotherapy because their brain dysfunction often preclude logical thinking and because such counseling and psychotherapy are ineffective modes of treatment for them.

Freudian theory lives on in today’s culture, and it is important to note both its positive and negative impacts. We want to point out in particular that its deterministic assumptions have been proved incorrect, but nonetheless continue to have an impact, as well.

Summary

Today in America, we continue to struggle as a culture to overcome our long history of inaccurate beliefs. Although science now firmly rejects all beliefs that the fixed mindset is based on, the fixed mindset remains a veritable force in modern society. It seems to permeate everything in our lives: everything from our social institutions to our approach to mental health services.

Our schools are funded differently than most other first-world countries. Each school is funded by the tax dollars collected by the local area. So the kids in poorer neighborhoods get fewer and poorer resources than the kids in wealthier areas. This seems to be yet another example of how people sabotage themselves with old inaccurate beliefs.

We wrap up this chapter with Torrey’s assessment of the impact of Freudian theory (which contained deterministic ideas) on modern culture.

This concludes our explanation of the roles that genetic essentialism and determinism play in today’s society. Let us move on, then, to discuss the modern scientific view of human intelligence and abilities.

STEP 3

LEARN HOW MODERN SCIENCE OVERTURNED THE FIXED VIEW OF MAN & WHERE WE STAND TODAY

The Goal(s) of This Section:

• for you to learn how modern science overturned all doctrines and theories that portrayed man as a fixed entity

Part 6: Modern Science Overturns the Fixed View of Man

Chapter 18. How Modern Science Disproved the Claim That Intelligence Is Genetic

When researchers try to predict human behavior and the probability of a person being successful in life overall, one of the characteristics they tend to focus on is intelligence. The reason that intelligence is viewed as being so critical is summed up in the previously referenced Intelligence article101 Point #10:

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The Importance of Intelligence

Point #10: A high IQ is an advantage in life because virtually all activities require some reasoning and decision-making. Conversely, a low IQ is often a disadvantage, especially in disorganized environments…

Source: Intelligence (excerpt)

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It would be hard to dispute the importance of IQ in modern society; it is a critical element in many daily activities. As such, researchers debated intensely for many years whether or not intelligence is a fixed asset, which would render success to be fairly predictable. And it was only recently that the experts reached a consensus that intelligence is actually malleable.

The Evolution of the Scientific View of Intelligence

When Alfred Binet (1857-1911) invented the IQ test, he did not intend for it to be used to permanently define the intelligence of an individual. Instead, he believed that people could become more intelligent over the course of their lives with the proper education and training. The test, then, could monitor how an individual’s intelligence changed over time. Binet states102:

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Alfred Binet’s Comments on the Malleability of Human Intelligence

A few modern philosophers…assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism…With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.

Source: Modern Ideas about Children (excerpt)

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Regrettably, around the turn of the 20th century, against Binet’s wishes the IQ test became a means to identify how people differ from one another. Knowing the critical role that intelligence plays in daily life, and assuming that intelligence is a permanent characteristic, some individuals would be marked as being generally of lower value than others. Furthermore, since some individuals were thought to be permanently subpar, it put into question whether or not it was a worthwhile exercise to try to fully educate them. Some suggested that we should let “natural selection” run its course.

Although some members of the general public continue to believe that intelligence is a fixed asset, many studies over the past few decades have revealed IQ to be quite malleable. Stephen Jay Gould’s 1981 book, The Mismeasure of Man: IQ Theories Debunked, marked a real shift in the tide when it came to the scientific community’s view of IQ malleability. Other studies, such as the ones summarized in Robert Sternberg’s paper “Myths, Countermyths, and Truths about Intelligence” (1996)103 have confirmed that the environment, especially education, can have a significant impact on IQ. Of course, not all education programs are effective in raising the IQ’s of the participating students. But an inadequate program does not suggest that IQ is a fixed quality, nor does it suggest that a person with a low IQ is forever destined to function at a low level.

The Role of Upbringing in Underprivileged Groups as Predictors of Intelligence and Overall Success

The 1997 [_Intelligence _]article suggests that for most children, heredity is a slightly more important factor than the environment when it comes to predicting performance on intelligence tests. We wish to point out, however, that studies find that the above is simply an average, and it does not hold true for all children in all environments (e.g. Ridley, 2012104)

Based on the above, it seems apparent that investing in the education of children in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas could yield a major benefit. Perhaps, then, this is only further verification of how the fixed mindset is holding us back as a society. When attempting to pick the best and brightest children, we are probably overlooking the ones that [+would +]be exceptional [+if +]they were properly nourished and had equal access to teachers.

Has the Consensus of the Modern Scientific Community on Intelligence Really Shifted?

It may be hard to imagine that the scientific community has dramatically shifted its understanding of intelligence over the past few decades (and especially over the last decade or so), but it is true. We find evidence of the shift in the fact that some scientists have been caught by such surprise — scientists who had not kept up with the times and thought the old view of man still applied. For example, James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner who co-discovered the structure of DNA in 1953, made an untactful statement in an interview105 with a UK Sunday Times’ reporter, exposing his ignorance on the topic of intelligence malleability. In his late seventies at the time of the interview, Watson had apparently missed several of the latest scientific findings that disproved the old common (mis-)understanding of intelligence. In the interview, when asked for his thoughts on the prospect of Africa, Watson indicated that he was concerned about its potential to ever improve:

[I am] inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa [because] all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.

He went on to say that his wish was that everyone could be equal, but that, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” Watson was probably taken aback when he found out that he was being suspended from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the statements he made. After all, it was only a decade or so prior that Intelligence published the article stating that some races will probably never become as intelligent as whites. Much had changed, and apparently, Watson’s old beliefs had blurred his vision of the perspective now shared by the rest of the scientific community: intelligence is malleable. The gloomy prospects that people share are not due to low intelligence, but rather are due to the poor conditions to which they are being subjected.

Understanding How Humans Learn

Just as scientists have always wondered if it is possible for people to become more intelligent, they also sought to better understand how the learning process works. Prior to the 20th century, it was largely unknown how humans learn. In the mid-20th century, the notion was proposed that new patterns of thought are adopted through repetition, namely the consistent connection of brain synapses. The theory, known as Hebbian theory (also called Hebb’s rule, Hebb’s postulate and cell assembly theory), is explained by its author as106:

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Donald Hebb’s Explanation of Hebbian Theory

When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite a cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A’s efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased.

Source: “The organization of behavior: a neuropsychological theory” (excerpt)

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The above theory is typically summarized as “cells that fire together, wire together.”

Introduced by Donald Hebb, Hebbian theory proposes that the brain fires in certain patterns due to practiced behaviors. The theory supposes that new synaptic knobs form on the axon of one cell to connect with the soma of a second cell. When a person engages in certain activities, the theory proposes that the thoughts, feelings, and actions associated with those activities somehow build connections in the brain. As the thoughts, feelings, and actions are repeated, the connections become stronger. For instance if you feel depressed, you might eat ice cream, and in that moment, it might make you feel better because it temporarily distracted you from your worries. If you eat ice cream every time you are depressed, your brain will eventually create a connection between depression, eating, and happiness — and you will feel like you need ice cream whenever you are depressed in order to feel better.

Among the theories on how behaviors are learned and unlearned, Hebbian theory remains quite popular within the scientific community. It is the primary basis for the conventional view of these connections as being a part of neuronal nets or neural networks. The theory suggests that new connections are formed and reinforced through practice. For instance, if you want to play basketball better, you know you will probably need to practice. The more you practice, the more the muscles involved in the exercise grow stronger, your joints loosen up, your lungs begin to function better, and so on. Your entire body essentially conditions itself for the next similar event. Likewise, in this example, your brain is conditioning itself for the next time you play basketball. While your body is getting stronger and more agile, your brain is learning new moves, learning how to gauge your strength for shooting and passing, and learning to anticipate the moves of the other players.

As we see above, and as we have been discussing throughout this text, the brain is not a fixed entity. Although in the past, some have mistakenly presumed that the brain [+is +]a fixed entity (and all changes that appear to occur throughout the life of an individual are mere illusions), the scientific community now agrees that the old view is flawed.

Rewiring the Brain via Mental Rehearsal

Before we move on, we wish to point out one of the latest discoveries of modern science — humans have the ability to rewire the brain through not just physical rehearsal, but also through mental rehearsal. Continuing with our previous example, intuitively it makes sense that we would become better at playing basketball with physical practice, and that the improvement would be experienced both physically and mentally. But scientists are now recognizing that learning new tasks through mental rehearsal can be almost as effective, with the difference between the two sets of results being nominal. Several studies have found this to be true, for example Alvero Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, et al. (1995) 107 and Charles W. Sanders, MD, et al. (2004) 108. This is only further evidence of how malleable the brain is, how numerous the triggers are of this malleability, and how we still have so much more to learn about ourselves.

Based on the material discussed in this chapter, it is apparent that the scientific community’s position on intelligence is that it’s a malleable asset. That means genetic essentialist and deterministic views of man’s intelligence are dead as far as scientists are concerned. However, we still need to discuss how the deterministic views of the other characteristics of man were overturned.

Summary

Well, when it comes to measuring the value of an individual in today’s culture, few things are considered as important as intelligence. Intelligence (IQ, particularly) and the common view of success are highly intertwined in the common belief system.

This being the case, there is a high demand for scientists to try to figure out ways to predict intelligence. Numerous factors have been thought to be key indicators of IQ: ethnicity, upbringing, wealth, previous performance, etc.

Potential indicators of intelligence and success are not just pondered over by scientists either. These indicators continue to be used in American social institutions as guides for deciding which children receive the best resources.

But it turns out that IQ remains unpredictable over the course of people’s lives, despite all the indicators. Perhaps if we are interested in optimizing our advancement as a society, then, we need to consider that we are sabotaging our best and brightest with a lack of resources because of old beliefs. And a good place to start is with challenging our own beliefs.

Chapter 19. How Modern Science Overturned the Deterministic Aspect of Freudian Theory

The focus of this chapter is to describe how the deterministic aspect of Freudian theory was disproved. As part of this exercise, we will describe how the entire theory was laid to rest. And it is important to note here that some proponents of the theory remain within the scientific community, but the true outliers are those that still believe in its deterministic aspect.

Similar to the doctrines of determinism and genetic essentialism, the science supporting Freudian theory has consistently been a matter of dispute. Where Freudian theory differed from the other two is in the fact that Freud believed his theory actually needed no scientific validation. Instead, he believed the theory was an obvious statement about reality to anyone with common sense. So validating it in a scientific manner would be pointless.

Regardless of whether or not Freud, himself, believed his theory needed scientific support, we can only presume that there must have been some sort of scientific evidence supporting the theory, otherwise the scientific community would have stepped forward at the time refuting all claims as to its scientific basis, right? Unfortunately, when Torrey took it upon himself to try to find the scientific support, he came up with very little solid scientific evidence.

Of course, if there was never any conclusive scientific evidence to support Freudian theory (which would mean that, as far as the scientific community was concerned, there was no “theory” per se), then any action of overturning the theory would be done strictly in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, if there originally was a scientific basis for the theory (and it was accepted as such by the scientific community), we would have to presume that the change was somehow part of the shift in scientific understanding of human development.

It was not clear to us, the authors, as to which of the above two scenarios adequately describes the evolution of the scientific community’s view on Freudian theory. Either way, the theory now has minimal scientific support, so understanding how it all played out basically holds no bearing on this text. We just need to know what inaccuracies were exposed, particularly those deterministic in nature.

Reviews of Freudian Theory

Torrey cites several studies that tested Freudian theory directly. The authors of the referenced studies are as follows: Gardner Murphy and his colleagues (1937)109, Harold Orlansky (1949)110, Ernest Hilgard et al. (1952)111, Paul Kline (1972)112, Seymore Fisher and Roger P. Greenberg (1977)113, Hans Eysenck and Glenn D. Wilson (1973)114, Lester Sontag, MD (1989)115, and George Vaillant, MD (1984)116. Although some of the above were Freudian theory proponents, in the end, they all basically concluded that there is no scientific evidence to support the full breadth of the theory. They did state that some portions of the theory could be scientifically validated, such as the assertion that there is a “clustering of adult personality characteristics around themes called oral and anal personalities.”117

But overall as of today, the theory has been found to inherently flawed. In sum, for each area that people can be found to have neuroses in adulthood due to experiences they had in their childhood, there are numerous people that had similar experiences during childhood that exhibit no such problems as adults. The claimed deterministic relationship between childhood experiences and adult-conditions was conclusively disproved.

It’s true. The scientific community has basically closed the book on Freudian theory. It is important to note, however, that its proponents do claim to maintain a sort of escape route in the face of the attacks challenging their assertion that life is determined by childhood conditions, but most scientists recognize the escape route has a fatal flaw. The escape route suggests that, according to Freudian theory, two people could be subjected to nearly identical poor conditions as children, and one would develop a neurosis as an adult and one would not. The reason for the different results (according to the theory) ties back to the fact that the neurosis during adulthood is dependent on the perception of the child, not on actual events.

Since modern science is still incapable of measuring peoples’ perceptions of experiences, what we see above is what science would consider a fatal flaw in the theory. Even if we were able to derive from the child what he was experiencing in each moment, there is still the issue that much of the experience is below the level of conscious awareness, which we have no means of monitoring. Without any means of monitoring what the child is experiencing, we have no way of knowing whether or not the child is troubled by the things he is subjected to. We have no way of proving the connection between the events a child perceived and the neuroses he experiences as an adult. As a result, Freudian theory remains unfalsifiable and cannot be adequately tested via the modern scientific method.

Focusing on the Deterministic Aspect of Freudian Theory

Freudian theory is deterministic in that it claims for all neuroses an adult exhibits, issues exist in the subconscious mind — and those issues were caused by perceived mistakes made by others during one’s upbringing. Whereas other theories of the time held that people sometimes behave in irrational ways for no reason at all, Freudian theory claimed there was always a cause for irrational behavior, and the cause lay in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind was claimed to be causing this behavior during adulthood always as a result of perceived errors made by others during the years of upbringing.

Since we still do not have the tools to see into the subconscious mind, nor do we have the understanding to know what we are looking at if we had this ability, it is impossible to verify that all neuroses that adults suffer from are caused by the subconscious mind — and in turn are the result of perceived errors made by others when we were growing up. As such, this claim cannot be validated scientifically.

Of course, the purpose of this chapter was to discuss how the deterministic aspect of Freudian theory was overturned. Unfortunately, the exercise we conducted in this chapter alone would not fully accomplish this task. Without enough evidence for or against the claims that comprise its deterministic aspect, we could simply say such claims are unscientific in nature. In order for the deterministic aspect to be completely overturned (and not just dismissed as beyond the scope of modern science), then, it would need to be conclusively proved that the childhood environment is not the sole driving force that shapes a person’s life. Today, we are fortunate enough to state that scientists discovered exactly that (which we touched on previously, and will discuss in depth in the next chapter).

Before we move on, it should be noted that, although the deterministic nature of Freudian theory has been thoroughly disproved, it does not mean all Freudian concepts are now obsolete. As mentioned previously, the theory brought light to the importance of upbringing, the subconscious mind, dreams, and more. And while we now recognize that we are not victims of these things, we should also not dismiss their importance in daily life.

Summary

Freudian theory was another idea that claimed success is perfectly predictable. At the heart of the claim was the notion that if a child was raised in the right environment, he would be successful in adulthood. Conversely, if a child was raised in a poor environment, he would suffer from numerous neuroses.

It seems that Freudian theory never had solid scientific evidence to back it up. Nonetheless, it became popular with the general population a few decades ago.

Today, the scientific community does not hold the theory in high regard, particularly its deterministic aspect, because it was conclusively disproved. It was discovered that childhood environment is not the determining factor in predicting adulthood conditions. We save the discussion of how this was disproved for the next chapter.

Chapter 20. The Science of Personal Development in the New Millennium

The scientific community underwent a paradigm shift when it comes to its understanding of human development. One of the things that brought about this shift was the human genome project. As it neared its completion, it confirmed once and for al that our genes, alone, do not control our characteristics…and that our characteristics truly do change over time. Similarly, many investigations were completed throughout the 20th century that debunked claims that our characteristics are determined by our upbringing.

In sum, recent scientific progress has profoundly changed the way most present-day scientists view human development. We now know that a person’s behavior and characteristics cannot be accurately predicted based on his genes, upbringing, or any other factor or group of factors. These things are unpredictable, and they change over time due to numerous factors — many of which scientists have yet to fully understand. In this regard, a fascinating article was published in Newsweek118 pointing out surprising findings related to the sickle cell disease and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In environments where a person could contract malaria, sickle cell will actually protect them. Likewise, in some environments, people with ADHD are healthier than people without the condition. With both sickle cell and ADHD conditions being linked to genetics, these findings truly turn on its head the common notion of “bad genes.” Scientists recognize that the environment and other factors play a major roll.

Many prominent researchers in the scientific community recognize how their respective fields have been fundamentally transformed by the recent discoveries regarding human development. Among them, psychology professor Eric Turkheimer noted the progress in behavior genetics. He summarizes the consensus of the scientific community on human behavior (below) in three laws119.

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The Three Laws of Behavioral Genetics

• First Law: All human behavioral traits are heritable.

• Second Law: The effect of being raised in the same family is smaller than the effect of genes.

• Third Law: A substantial portion of the variation in complex human behavioral traits is not accounted for by the effects of genes or families.

Source: “Three laws of behavior genetics and what they mean” (excerpt)

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It is clear from the above synopsis that genetic essentialist and deterministic notions about personal development have been thoroughly removed from the equation. When it comes to predicting behavior, scientists know that neither genes nor upbringing account for all or even most differences among individuals. The same holds true for predicting traits, intelligence, talents, etc. In fact, if you sum up all of the effects of genes and upbringing, the total usually only accounts for about 50% of all differences among individuals. 120 The scientific community agrees that development comes from a combination of factors: genes, upbringing and numerous other environmental factors that people experience over the course of their lives, as well as some factors we have yet to learn about.

We see this complete change in understanding especially in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) publication121, “Top 20 Principles for Pre-K to 12 Education,” in March, 2015. Remember the “Mainstream Science on Intelligence” article we talked about in Chapter 15, which largely supported the fixed mindset view of personal growth? Well the APA’s publication stands in stark contrast with all 20 points being growth-mindset oriented. The APA points out that student’s beliefs about learning, teacher’s expectations of the student, the classroom environment, etc. can all have a significant impact on personal growth.

All of the latest scientific evidence points to an understanding of man as having unpredictable characteristics and behaviors. The old views of man (genetic essentialist and deterministic) are now known to be incorrect. The only thing that keeps them from becoming completely obsolete is the fact that the general population is out of sync with the scientific community. The message is that our characteristics cannot be predicted (based on genes, upbringing, etc.) with a level of accuracy that is much better than flipping a coin. Nothing in the real world can be predicted with a high degree of certainty, and this is especially true when it comes to your potential.

Summary

Although the debate over nature versus nurture might seem like it will endure forever, as of the beginning of the new millennium, scientists agree that neither governs with complete certainty. Neither one’s biology nor upbringing can be used to predict a person’s future characteristics. The future remains a grand unknown for every individual, including you.

In short: YOU ARE NOW FREE TO GROW…so let’s get to work.

STEP 4: LEARN EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR PERSONAL GROWTH

The Goal(s) of This Section:

• for you to learn a variety of techniques proven to help modify incorrect beliefs, which in turn correct maladaptive thought, emotion, and behavior patterns

• for you to learn a variety of techniques proven to help people accomplish tasks they set out to perform and techniques for dealing with failure

• for you to learn the general elements of a great action plan

Part 7

Strategies for Overcoming Growth-Inhibiting Beliefs & Correcting Maladaptive Thought, Emotion & Behavior Patterns

Chapter 21. A Review of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy was previously defined, but if you need a reminder, you can refer to the Glossary. When it comes to modifying thought and behavior patterns, including ones related to bad habits and depression, CBT has become the method of choice. The purpose of this discussion is not to suggest that you should seek a counselor and request this type of treatment (although if you feel it is needed, we would not advise against it). Instead, our intent is to give you insight as to how maladaptive patterns are typically corrected. This insight will give you the proper background for the following chapter, where you will learn how Dweck and her colleagues improved upon one of the most successful therapies in practice today.

The theory behind CBT is that bad habits and depression are often largely caused by inaccurate beliefs. It began in the 1960’s when psychiatrist Aaron Beck noted that his clients would typically experience a common precursor prior to feeling a wave of anxiety or depression. The precursor was usually a negative thought — one that basically made the person feel powerless for any number of reasons. Recognizing the relationship between negative thoughts and the feelings that followed was very important. But the key discovery was the fact that Beck realized it was possible to correct the issue by rectifying the inaccurate belief(s) upon which the negative thought was based. Since the people he was studying were in therapy, the negative thought that made them feel powerless might have been related to the improbability of the therapy working, related to the individual’s own incompetence, and so on. Whatever the subject matter of the thought, its effect on the person was to make him feel powerless, and it was usually founded on some inaccurate notion.

CBT is based on the premise that all people keep a running account of what happens to them in their subconscious mind. Of course, the account is not an objective refection of reality; it is simply each individual’s own interpretation of events and conditions. It’s the compilation of these interpretations that help to form beliefs, and beliefs influence the person’s decisions (for better or for worse) about how he should act in the present and in the future.

Sometimes the interpretations are extreme, and in such cases inaccurate beliefs form. From these beliefs, maladaptive thought, emotion, and behavior patterns arise. The purpose of cognitive therapy, therefore, is to help the client to rein in his extreme judgments and make the judgments more reasonable122. With the correction of inaccurate beliefs come corrections in the maladaptive patterns.

CBT is popular because, simply put, it has been scientifically proven to work. Studies (such as Butler et al., 2006123), conclude that CBT is highly effective for certain types of depression, anxiety, and social phobias and moderately effective in the treatment of things like anger, chronic pain, and marital stress. Other studies, e.g. Chambless (2001)124and Tolin (2010)125, prove CBT to have positive results as well. In sum, CBT is highly effective and it generally tries to point out to the client that he is capable of feeling and performing better. Counselors remind their clients that at some point in the past they felt better than they do at the present moment. Over the course of time, limiting beliefs and black and white thinking may have set in, and eventually the client came to adopt inaccurate beliefs about himself and the world around him.

CBT is scientifically proven to work for many issues. On the other hand, there are instances where CBT does not work, even when the odds were in the client’s favor. Let us move on, then, to discuss how Dweck and her colleagues improved upon one of the most successful therapies presently in practice.

Summary

When people in the US seek counselor services, cognitive behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for a wide variety of neuroses, and it has a high rate of success. CBT teaches people to curb their extreme judgments of themselves and the world around them. By doing so, they are able to break unhealthy patterns and adopt healthy ones.

Chapter 22. Details of the Mindset-Shift Intervention

Learn from your failures to refine yourself, not to define yourself.

CBT is an incredible tool. But Dweck points out that CBT, as great as it is, does have some shortcomings, particularly in instances of low self-esteem and other forms of rigid thinking. In this chapter we discuss how CBT falls short, and how Dweck and her colleagues improved on the results of CBT by helping study-participants of all ages to shift their mindset.

How CBT Sometimes Falls Short

To see what CBT lacks in certain instances, we begin with an example of a person that gives himself a strong negative label, such as “stupid.” In treatment sessions, the counselor would encourage the individual to rein in the extreme judgment of himself and to make it more reasonable. In CBT, the client would be taught to review the facts substantiating his view of himself, and be guided in a process of realizing that his view is inaccurate.

So let us be specific and suppose that this individual stated that he constantly makes mistakes because he is unintelligent, and he cited a recent mistake to prove it. In therapy, the counselor would guide him through a process of realizing that although he sometimes makes mistakes, there have been many instances where he acted in an intelligent manner in the past. He would thus be led to conclude that he [+is +]a fairly intelligent individual, which would make instances of future mistakes far from inevitable. This would begin to help him to rein in his judgment of himself as being stupid.

Furthermore, the counselor would remind the client of the specific instance he originally cited as proof of his lack of intelligence, and would encourage him to think of reasons he would have acted in a seemingly unintelligent manner. In considering the potential that his actions were justified, the client’s negative judgment about himself would be tempered. The counselor would probably conclude the therapy by teaching the person to engage in the above-mentioned tempering activity on his own. The overall intent is to make the more realistic and optimistic judgments a more natural process for the individual.

Although CBT is quite successful in treating its targeted neuroses, according to Dweck, its major shortcoming lies in the fact that it does not actually address the heart of the issue — the person’s fixed mindset. Even after engaging in the full series of treatment sessions, the client will typically continue to maintain the same mindset, which in most cases is the fixed mindset. As such, even after thorough treatment, the client will continue to maintain the notion that his characteristics are fixed, so he needs to constantly measure himself to determine his self-worth126. And as a result, the person never fully recovers from the real ailment: faulty beliefs that his characteristics are fixed. Instead of being taught that his true potential remains unknown, CBT teaches him that his potential is simply not as low as he believed it was. In short, CBT helps him a little, but there is so much more that could be done.

Dweck & Her Colleagues Prove It Is Possible to Shift Your Mindset

So how did Dweck and her colleagues prove that people can shift their mindset? They performed several studies — e.g., Blackwell & Dweck (2007)127and Halperin et al. (2012)128— in which they prequalified students with the fixed mindset to participate, and helped them to adopt the growth mindset.

In the 2007 study, for example, they divided the fixed-mindset students into two groups — an experimental group and a control group. While the students in both groups were provided information about the brain and learning, only the students in the experimental group were subjected to an intervention program. The intervention program was modeled on and expanded from theory-altering experimental materials that were developed in previous lab studies129. During periods when the experimental group was engaging in the intervention model, students in the control group continued to learn general information about the brain and learning (such as how memory works) in order to provide an academically similar, but theoretically neutral, activity.

The study consisted of eight 25-minute sessions, the sessions were held once per week for eight weeks. All participants had been prescreened and found to have the fixed mindset. Details of the study can be found in Appendix E.

The overall message of the intervention that the experimental group received in order to shift their mindset was:

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Overall Message of the Mindset-Intervention Program

…learning changes the brain by forming new connections, and…students are in charge of this process. This message of malleable intelligence was presented in the context of an interesting reading, which contained vivid analogies (e.g., to muscles becoming stronger) and examples (e.g., of relatively ignorant babies becoming smarter as they learned), supported by activities and discussions.

Source: “Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement…” (paraphrased)

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According to the above study, Dweck and her colleagues were able to change the mindset of the fixed-mindset students by engaging them in a thorough and interactive intervention program. The students were not simply told that the fixed-entity view of man is false and left to their own devices. Instead, they were given an extensive amount of information proving that the view is false, and were encouraged to engage in multiple discussions (both with the leaders and with the other students) where this point was driven home even further. An important aspect of the program was the fact that the students were able to watch their peers gradually change their views about the malleability of intelligence, skill sets, etc. and shift to the growth mindset. Probably by witnessing their intelligent peers become convinced, it made them more comfortable to make the change as well.

As you will recall from Chapter 10, the results of the intervention were astounding. After the intervention, the researchers asked the teachers of the study participants which students exhibited an improvement in motivation (students in the experimental group versus those in the control group). Comparing one group to the other, three times as many students in the experimental group were categorized as having a higher level of motivation.

Similarly, in another part of the study, students in middle school were monitored to see whether their grades would follow the typical downward trajectory if they participated in the intervention program. Again, the intervention-participants saw positive results: this time exhibiting no decline in grades while their peers followed the typical trajectory.

What we learn from the discussion in this chapter is that changing your beliefs about your potential most likely will not simply come with reading a book or two on the subject. The reading material can only give you background information to help you to change, and offer suggestions for how to do it. Your own shift in mindset will most likely come gradually with also thinking about the many nuances of the shift, the possible loopholes you will need to address to make the change fit your life, meditating on them, discussing them with your peers and mentors, watching your peers and mentors come to the realization that the fixed- view of man is inaccurate, and so on. But the key is that the shift to the growth mindset is possible for anyone that dedicates enough time and effort to the endeavor.

Summary

As great as CBT is, it doesn’t address everything. Dweck tells us the key thing that’s missing from this type of therapy is a way to address mindset. So for example, a person with extreme beliefs about his limited abilities will probably have less extreme beliefs after treatment. However, without addressing his fixed mindset, he will still believe he is incapable of learning new things.

Dweck and her colleagues proved that it’s possible to overcome the fixed mindset. This was illustrated in a study with numerous fixed-mindset participants, where half of them took part in an intervention and the other half did not. The details of the intervention can be found in the appendices if you’re interested. The good news is that this book is structured to walk you through the process, so let’s keep going!

Chapter 23. A Review of the Best Goal Attainment Strategies

In this chapter, we offer some advice on creating a strategy to attain your goals. Most people figure that the way to achieve goals is to simply set them and work toward them each day. The researchers we cite in this chapter, namely Gollwitzer and his colleagues, however, suggest that there are many ways to optimize your efforts. Thus, the information presented relies heavily on the above-mentioned researchers. But we also include a few reminders of things that we all know, but sometimes lose sight of.

Assign Daily & Weekly Priorities

To be the most productive each day, we need to start off with a game plan — something that identifies the activities that definitely need to happen in order to consider the day a success. We also need to identify the most efficient chronological arrangement of those activities, such as:

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Considerations for Efficient Activity Arrangements

• Some activities can occur at the same time.

• Some activities can be done in the same area.

• Some activities require the assistance from other people, so it is best to coordinate with them ahead of time.

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When we identify the most important activities, and think about their most efficient arrangement ahead of time, the other less-critical activities can then be interspersed in order to create an efficient grand scheme. In this process, you may realize that it would be more efficient to perform some of the less-important activities at a different time or on a different day than you were originally thinking. By making these modifications, you optimize your efforts and increase your chances of success.

Assign Specifics to Goal-Related Tasks

For every goal we set, there are certain goal-related tasks that must be performed in order to achieve the goal, sometimes several of them. Dweck advises us to assign specifics to every goal-related task because just saying you are going to do something every day (or once per week, etc.) is not enough. When appropriate, identifying the “what, when, and how” of an intended task can have a dramatically positive impact on your chances of getting it done.

To prove her point, Dweck cites a study130 performed by Gollwitzer where he found that putting specifics to an intended task helped to ensure the task was performed, even in cases where the participants were distracted. In the referenced study, Gollwitzer explains that the typical approach people use to try to attain their goals is quite flawed. When people just formulate goal intentions (and don’t include the specifics as to the implementation) they usually only have a 20% to 30% success rate.

In contrast to the common approach, Gollwitzer suggests that people use a strategy of linking situation specifics with an intended task — something he refers to as “implementation intention.” As you see below, implementation intention (1) is very different from simple goal intention (2):

1) If situation X arises, then I will perform Y (the suggested approach because it is more specific).

2) I strongly intend to do Z (less specific).

Gollwitzer’s paper summarizes the findings of several studies where the success rate was shown to increase dramatically when implementation intentions were added. He cites one that attempted to motivate students to participate in a vigorous exercise. The Milne, Orbell, and Sheeran (1999)131 study consisted of two parts: a motivational intervention followed by an implementation-intention exercise. The motivational intervention increased participation from 29% to 39%. But by adding an exercise in implementation intention, the participation rate increased from 39% to an incredible 91%! We see the differences among the three groups in the figure below.

Comparison of the Success Rates of Implementation Intention versus Motivational Intervention & Standard Goal Intention Groups

And we all know how difficult it is for most of us to motivate ourselves to engage in vigorous exercise routines.

The effects of implementation intention are impressive, and they lead us to wonder why they work so well. To find out why including details in the plan often leads to such a big difference in the results, Gollwitzer, this time with a colleague, performed another study (Gollwitzer & Lengfelder, 2001)132. They found that the success rate increased with having a detailed plan because the pursuit of the goal was turned over to automatic/subconscious processes. Gollwitzer and his associate determined that automatic and subconscious processes were involved by incorporating in the study individuals that had incurred a frontal lobe injury. Previous studies had determined that people with a frontal lobe injury often have difficulty engaging in consciously controlled behaviors, while automatic behaviors are not impaired. Thus, when the injured participants performed the tested task quicker after putting together a specific plan, Gollwitzer and his colleague recognized the processes involved must be automatic.

It is based on the above study that Gollwitzer concluded that the subconscious decision-making processes are responsible for speeding up reaction times and improving the likelihood that actions will be taken when the mind receives situational cues. By creating situational cues (ones of being in a certain place at a certain time, etc.), the automatic decisions are believed to play a more dominant role in carrying out the routine processes, despite any distractions.

Another paper (Brandstaetter, Lengfelder & Gollwizter, 2001)133, cites four studies, and the results all strongly suggest that defining “when, where, and how” with regard to the performance of an intended task typically leads to higher success rates — no matter what distractions are present. The studies were as follows: in Study #1, opiate addicts were given an assignment to write a curriculum vitae; in Study #2, schizophrenics were given a go/no-go task (such as to press a button as quickly as possible when numbers appear); and in Study #3 and Study #4, schizophrenics were given a dual-task program. In all instances, so long as a specific plan was put in place, the probability was quite high that the intended action would occur…no matter what distractions were present.

Avoid Distractions and Arbitrary Activities

Gollwitzer and his colleagues try to help us by suggesting ways to minimize the impact of distractions by making the goal-related tasks automatic. But there are plenty of things we can do on the conscious level to minimize the impact as well. Usually when we are unsuccessful in our attempts to be productive, if we assess the period in question, we can find a significant amount of time was consumed by distractions. Estimates as to how many times per day the average person is interrupted vary greatly, but whatever the number of distractions is in this busy world, we know it is quite high.

The key is to first recognize that we are being distracted. Whenever we are faced with a distraction, we should identify it as such, and do our best not to let the distraction interrupt our concentration. As we all know, this is easier said than done, but it is a helpful strategy to keep in mind.

In addition to distractions, we also participate in arbitrary activities, such as talking on the phone, answering emails, etc. Of course, having fun can be a good distraction if, later on, it allows you to address the critical activities you had planned for the day. On the other hand, having fun can cause you stress if it forces some critical activities to be left for tomorrow. We will discuss this topic later in this chapter.

Try to Do It Right the First Time

From our own experience, we have learned that doing something the wrong way can be quite time-consuming and expensive. The reason for this is that we need to spend time doing it wrong, then spend time undoing what we did wrong, then spend even more time to do it right. They say that, although we felt as though we did not have enough time to do it right the first time, somehow there is always enough time to go back, and do it right the second time around.

Keeping our life in balance helps us to complete each task properly. Things like too much caffeine or sugar in our diet can contribute to a lack of focus and rushing through tasks. We need to determine reasonable goals for each day to avoid stressing out and working backwards.

Doing everything right the first time is something we all aim for, but when we fall short sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect. There will be times that we must revisit tasks to make corrections. At that point, all we can do is make sure that we have completed the task correctly the second time in order to avoid a third iteration.

Remember to Have Fun

Of course, life is not only about work. Having fun each day is also a priority, or at least it should be. What are some things you like to do for fun? If you have not had fun in a while, it may be difficult to think of things you find fun. At first, you might think of only things you cannot afford to do, don’t have time to do, and so on. But there are plenty of things that are perfectly within reach. Maybe it is just spending time with friends and family, or renting a movie together, or going for a nice walk. Whatever it is that you find fun, make it a priority and make it happen! This will make it easier to focus your efforts on your goals when the tasks become particularly challenging. Keep these things in mind when you are filling out the work sheets in the next section.

Chapter 24. A Summary of the Key Expert Advice Covered

We covered a large volume of material in this section. As such, we thought it would be helpful to summarize some of the most pertinent suggestions made by the cited experts, as well as summarize the more common sense items that are sometimes overlooked. These summaries will prepare you for the next section, where you will formulate your own plan of action for personal development.

We begin with the work of Dweck and her associates. Dweck offers us numerous suggestions to help us shift to the growth mindset:

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Suggestions for Shifting to the Growth Mindset Based on Material by Dweck & Her Colleagues

• Monitor your thoughts, words, and actions for anything that may be growth-inhibiting in nature.

• When you begin to think, speak, or act in a way that is going to hinder your personal growth, just stop and try to think of something you can do to help you move forward (rather than backward), and do that instead.

• As you engage in challenging tasks, try to figure out strategies for performing them better (as opposed to spending your time worrying about what the results say about your potential).

• Expose yourself to material that will help you to view human potential as a malleable characteristic.

• Watch other intelligent people learn to view their potential as a malleable characteristic to gain further insight.

• If you are interested in improving yourself in a specific way, read/view material that will help you to better understand that it is possible to improve those characteristics of yourself. Also, read/view material that will teach you how to get the job done.

• Interact with other people that are trying to improve themselves in ways that you are interested. This should be done through discussions, and with exchanges of information that is based on reputable sources.

• Plan out which resources you are going to need to achieve the goals you set, and ensure that you have them when you need them. Without giving yourself the proper resources, you are sabotaging your success right from the start.

• Try to remain on task, both when things are progressing well, and when things become difficult.

• Try to learn from your mistakes instead of just using them as ammo to be critical of yourself. Prior to even beginning the first task, you can remind yourself of this strategy.

• Remember to not be afraid to seek help when you feel that you are over your head. There is no shame in asking for help. Receiving assistance from other people is part of the learning process.

Sources stated previously (paraphrased)

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We then discussed at length material related to goal achievement. Gollwitzer and his colleagues performed numerous studies that gave us insight as to how to optimize our efforts in the pursuit of goals:

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Suggestions for Goal Achievement Based on Material by Gollwitzer and His Colleagues

• Create a plan to perform various tasks that includes the days and times you plan to perform them.

• Be sure to be specific, not only about what the goals are, but also in your explanation of the tasks needed to complete each goal.

• Include in the plan details about the setting of the tasks to be performed: Where are you going to do it, who else will be involved, etc.?

Sources stated previously (paraphrased)

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We also covered a few pieces of general advice that we thought would be helpful to include here. They’re more along the lines of common sense, but sometimes it’s easy to forget common sense stuff when we are busy pursuing goals or attending to daily tasks:

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General Advice for Personal Development

• Assign daily and weekly priorities so that you accomplish what your primary goals are.

• Avoid distractions and arbitrary activities when pursuing goals since these will tend to slow you down.

• Include in the plan details about the setting of the tasks to be performed: Where are you going to do it, who else will be involved, etc.?

• Remember to take breaks and make time for purely fun activities. This will help you to stay focused when the going gets tough.

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Now that we have reviewed the key points covered in this section, let us move on to help you to create your own great action plan.

STEP 5

LEARN HOW TO ENVISION YOUR IDEAL SELF/ENVIRONMENT, CREATE YOUR OWN GREAT ACTION PLAN & MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS

The Goal(s) of This Section:

• for you to learn how to envision your ideal self

• for you to select areas of your life you wish to improve on

• for you to create your own great action plan and take action based on it

• for you to learn how to monitor your progress

• for you to learn how to gain insight from your failures and enjoy the rewards of success

Part 8: Envision Your Ideal Self/Environment & Create Your Own Great Action Plan to Make It a Reality

Chapter 25. Envision Your Ideal Self & Your Ideal Environment

We will save the deeper examination of where you would like to be physically, mentally, and spiritually for our next book, but for now we ask that you just jot down a few ideas. Perhaps these ideas will come to you as soon as you read each direction, or maybe they will become clearer at some later date or after reading the next one. In which case, you are welcome to revisit this section.

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Your Ideal Self & Ideal Environment Worksheet

Identify several key characteristics you would like to be able to use to accurately describe yourself:

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Describe the environment you would picture yourself truly flourishing in:

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Describe the life and activities of your ideal self (goals you would pursue, skills you would be learning, etc.):

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Note any other ideas you have for personal development:

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Existing Beliefs, Thoughts, Behaviors & Other Conditions That Conflict with Your Vision of Your Ideal Self

Since you have identified the key characteristics of your ideal self and key things about your ideal life, you are now ready to identify which of your present characteristics are out of sync with this vision. This list may be comprised of the following: your beliefs; your thought, emotion, or behavior patterns; or things/people in your environment.

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Conflicts with Your Vision of Your Ideal Self & Your Ideal Environment Worksheet

Identify Any of Your Beliefs that Conflict with Your Vision of Your Ideal Self:

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Identify Any Thought, Emotion or Behavior Patterns that Conflict with Your Vision of Your Ideal Self:

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Identify Any Conditions in Your Present Environment That Conflict with Your Vision of Your Ideal Self:

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As you were writing down things that you would like to change about yourself and your environment, you might have realized that the list was somewhat extensive. On that note, it is important to point out here that we are not necessarily trying to label ourselves as broken and in need of a complete overhaul. While there may be a few rare cases where people make this assessment and it’s correct, it is probably not the case with you. Instead, if you do have a long laundry list of things that you would like to improve upon…just recognize that this is just you being honest with yourself. Of course, with any self-improvement list, we want to make sure we are not requiring perfection from ourselves.

On the other hand, if after close examination, you think you are still in dire need of a complete overhaul and you need some help, you can always talk to a counselor or a doctor to get a professional opinion. You would never want to downplay a situation that is truly serious, so an expert opinion would help to keep you grounded.

Now that you have established a clear vision of what your ideal self looks like, and what things about your present self and present environment may need to change, the next step will be to develop your personal plan of action.

Chapter 26. How to Create Your Personal Great Action Plan

When inspiration does not come to me, I go halfway to meet it.

— Sigmund Freud

In the previous chapter, you engaged in exercises that helped you to clearly envision your ideal self and your ideal environment. This chapter will help you to identify some goals that are in line with the above. You will have the opportunity to assign specifics to the goals, and to consider what obstacles may keep you from performing the related tasks. Without a plan of action that defines dates, times, and other specifics to work on the tasks, your resolutions to improve yourself can easily be shifted to the back burner, replaced by other priorities. As a result, you could eventually lose hope that improving yourself is even possible.

Your Personal Plan of Action Worksheet

Remember the first worksheet where you wrote down a few changes you tried to make and why you thought you were unsuccessful in making them (in BACKGROUND INFORMATION)? Well going forward after reading this book, hopefully you will have the insight to figure out how to make the changes stick.

On the following page is a worksheet for you to identify three specific goals you would like to set for yourself. You’re welcome to address the changes you wrote down on the first worksheet, or pick new ones. And as you think about which goals to set, try to keep in mind the exercises from the last chapter, and of course try to select goals that are in line with creating your ideal self and your ideal environment. Write the goal name on the first line. Please write a benefit or two on the lines below it. On the lines for the tasks related to each goal, write the activities you need to engage in to complete the goal. Note also the day, time of day, place, and even with whom each activity will be done when applicable (since specifics have been proven to increase the chances that tasks will be completed, and goals will be fulfilled).

On these sample worksheets you will notice that there is only space for you to list three goals. We suggest that you choose three goals to work on immediately so that you do not get overwhelmed. You can choose to work on more than three or less than three, depending on what you feel you are capable of. It might also be a good idea to make one of the goals a little less challenging so that you are likely to see at least some success, even if the other goals prove to be more difficult to accomplish than you had expected.

Again, the task of filling out the worksheet does not need to be a session of only identifying your inadequacies and trying to fix them. Instead, you may already be doing fairly well and interested in just being even better, so go for it!

You will notice that in the slot for the first goal, we already entered “Daily exercise.” This is simply a suggested goal to get you off on the right foot if you do not already have an exercise program in place. In addition, it serves to illustrate how to use the worksheet. It is also important to point out that the worksheet is meant to be a flexible guide. So, instead of writing additional tasks, you can use the additional task lines to offer more in-depth descriptions of the other task(s).

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Your Personal Plan of Action for Self-Improvement

Goal 1:

Daily exercise (sample goal)

Goal 1 Benefits of completion:

I will feel stronger and more mentally awake

Goal 1 Task 1 (w/day & time):

Walk around the block for 15-20 minutes every day starting at 6 AM

Goal 1 Task 2 (w/day & time):

Do crunches and push-ups in the living room for 15-20 minutes every day starting at 5 PM

Goal 2:

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Goal 2 benefits of completion:

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Goal 2 Task 1 (w/day & time):

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Goal 2 Task 2 (w/day & time):

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Goal 3:

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Goal 3 benefits of completion:

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Goal 3 Task 1 (w/day & time):

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Goal 3 Task 2 (w/day & time):

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As you can see above with our suggested goal of daily exercise, the goal and the related tasks are quite specific. It is clear that we intend to exercise every single day, and we identify which exercises, what time of day, where, and for how long. We can even set reminders for ourselves in our phone calendar or on a watch to help ensure we do not forget.

Review Your Schedule for the Upcoming Week

As you were putting together the list of goals and tasks for your plan of action, and identifying the days and times to perform each task, you might have thought to yourself, “Wow, this is not as hard as I thought it would be!” And it’s true, personal development should not be extremely challenging.

So why is it often so hard to actually see results? Other things get in the way, of course. Work, family life, friends, appointments, daily chores, and so on, all require our attention. And since personal development is typically more of a long-term goal, likewise with long-term benefits, we tend to put other priorities ahead of the tasks related to our development…and reap only short-term rewards. But there are many other reasons that personal development tasks are sometimes pushed to the back burner. For instance, people sometimes feel guilty that they are dedicating resources (namely time and money) to themselves when they feel like other people need them. On this point, we would like to suggest that while you would never want to turn away a friend or family member in an emergency, it stands to reason that you should be able to dedicate at least some time each week to improving yourself. After all, by improving yourself, you will be better equipped to help others in the future with their needs.

The next step is to review your calendar of events for the upcoming week to try to identify any conflicts that could hinder or prevent you from performing the tasks that you listed in your action plan. Next to each conflict, you can describe how you will resolve the conflict so that you are able to stick to the tasks in the plan. You can do this for the upcoming week, and if you know your schedule for the upcoming month, you can do it for the month as well. Perhaps by identifying these conflicts early, you will be able to arrange your schedule to work around the personal development tasks.

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Assessment of Action Plan Conflicts

Conflict 1:

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Conflict 1 Solution:

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Conflict 2:

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Conflict 2 Solution:

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Conflict 3:

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Conflict 3 Solution:

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Conflict 4:

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Conflict 4 Solution:

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Conflict 5:

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Conflict 5 Solution:

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Now that you have identified many of the obstacles that could hinder your progress, you will be better prepared if and when they arise. As you approach the end of each week/month, you can look at your calendar for the next period and think about how you can address each conflict.

Of course, no personal development plan is complete without a plan in place to provide you with healthy feedback, so that is the subject of the next chapter.

Chapter 27. Create a Constructive Feedback Program & Monitor Your Progress

Personal growth is always a work in progress. After all, it is not likely that you will one day wake up feeling like you have realized your true potential, and never have any worries again for the rest of your life. Like everyone else, you will always have areas of your life that you would like to improve on — that is what life is all about. Whether these areas pertain to improving your relationships, changing your mindset, or developing specific talents/abilities, they’re all areas that allow for growth and advancement.

We all know that replacing bad habits with good ones can be challenging, but maintaining good habits can be equally as difficult. Dweck tells us that soon after people work hard to quit their bad habits, and they have a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor, many tend to let their guard down and return to the old habits. Without continued maintenance, positive changes can quickly disappear, and people end up exactly where they started…only this time more frustrated. Like overcoming addictions to food, drugs, and alcohol, once we are vulnerable to a bad habit, we should always be cautious of this vulnerability.

Since it can be rather difficult to develop and keep good habits, in this chapter we will discuss how to create a constructive feedback program designed to encourage good behavior, and we will teach you to learn from your mistakes. We also cover how to remain resilient in the face of serious challenges and asking others for help when things become too difficult.

Feedback to Reward Successes

It’s so strange. We figure that, now that we are adults, we do not need little rewards to encourage our good behavior — it is as if rewards are just for children. Yet, time and time again, we become disheartened in the pursuit of our goals when things are harder than we expected them to be. In response to the struggles, we find ourselves resorting to the perpetuation of bad habits, often because they just make us feel comfortable in some way. We eat unhealthy food, smoke, drink, gamble, and so on, much of which is probably in an effort to reward ourselves with something little when we get desperate. The small reward, even though it is bad for us, helps us to get through the day. We feel like we need that reward when we have been working hard, and especially when we feel like our hard work is not appreciated by others and/or ourselves. Sure it is good to sometimes let your hair down, but turning to things that hinder our progress on a daily basis is probably a sign of a deeper issue: either we need a new plan that incorporates rewards, or we have some other issue that needs to be addressed.

Since we seem to respond positively to rewards (they help us to stick it through when things are difficult, and we feel a little better after being rewarded), perhaps we should build rewards into our action plan’s design. If there is one thing I learned from my mother, it is the value of celebrating achievements. It might seem a little silly at first, but celebrating your progress will help to make the task of personal development far less daunting.

Of course some types of rewards are better for us in the long run than others. While some rewards (like the ones mentioned earlier in this subsection) may seem as though they satisfy us at the moment, they actually hinder progress when we look at the long-term effects. In the long run, they make us overweight and sluggish, keep us from realizing higher states of consciousness, and generally keep us in survival mode. The fact that we are reaching for them may be a sign that we failed to plan to properly reward ourselves for a difficult period we would endure. In addition, these same harmful rewards can be expensive. Good rewards are often fairly inexpensive and good for us all around.

So what are these rewards? Curiously, many people have trouble thinking of how they can reward themselves for the progress they make. Taking myself as an example, when I first started to think about how I could reward myself for my hard work, I had a lot of trouble identifying what I find to be fun. Sure, I had fun in the typical ways: eating unhealthy foods, drinking beer, etc. But these things all hinder us in the long run. I needed things that were fun and good for me. As you might find as well, it was much tougher to identify things I thought would truly be suitable rewards for my hard work and achievements. When children are successful, we tell them we are proud of them, clap, and give them hugs. We might even give them trophies and pendants, but behind all those things is a (hopefully) authentic acknowledgement of their achievement. As authority figures in their lives, we tell them that we recognize their hard work and that they deserve all the praise they receive. This recognition encourages them to continue to work hard and pursue even greater goals.

Perhaps, then, giving ourselves small rewards for our efforts will have an effect similar to the one it has on children. Using the sample worksheet below, select some rewards you would like to give yourself for achieving each goal.

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Reward for Progress Worksheet

Reward for Goal 1:

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Reward for Goal 2:

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Reward for Goal 3:

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Progress Monitoring Worksheet

Now that we have in mind how we are going to reward ourselves when we are successful in achieving the goals we set, it should make monitoring our progress more of a fun exercise rather than a chore. Below is a sample progress-monitoring worksheet where you can note the progress you make on each task. Once all the tasks for each goal are completed, you will have reached your goal, and it will be time to celebrate!

Also in the sample worksheet below are two areas for you to note the things you think you did well, and the things you think you still need to work on. By giving yourself a straightforward assessment of where you stand, you will be better able to select goals and tasks for the weeks and months ahead.

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Progress Monitoring Worksheet

Goal 1:

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Goal 1 Task 1 Progress:

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Goal 1 Task 2 Progress:

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Goal 2:

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Goal 2 Task 1 Progress:

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Goal 2 Task 2 Progress:

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Goal 3:

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Goal 3 Task 1 Progress:

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Goal 3 Task 2 Progress:

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Things I think I did well recently:

***

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Things I think I need to improve on:

***

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Learning from Your Mistakes

Failure takes many forms. It can range from giving in to an addiction to getting a poor grade on a test. We are all human, so sometimes we are all going to make mistakes and perform at levels that are less than satisfactory. The key is to not dwell on the failure, but rather to put together a plan of action to be ready for the next time a similar challenge arises. Again, this is an implication of the Gollwitzer (1999)134 study. The study, as you recall, found that people with a specific plan of action (one that is triggered by situational cues) are much more likely to follow through with the intended tasks than people with a goal but no plan of action.

Dweck offers helpful advice on what to do in the face of failure. The advice pertains to adults coaching children, but it has implications for self- coaching as well. She begins by offering multiple examples of what not to say to a child after he failed at a task: 1) you thought he deserved to be successful at the task; 2) that the task was not really important anyway; or 3) suggesting the outcome is completely based on luck by saying next time he will surely be successful. Dweck tells us that the above statements are faulty in that they basically encourage the child to develop the fixed mindset. Instead of reacting as mentioned above, she suggests the best approach is to inform the child that he needs to put more time and effort into training in order to be successful. 135 As you can see, this type of message is much more in line with the growth mindset.

As adults, when we apply this advice to ourselves, we recognize the importance of monitoring our thoughts. Instead of criticizing our talents and abilities whenever we fail, then, we should consider the fact that we need to put more time and effort into the task next time.

In light of the above, you are welcome to use the sample worksheet below to note how you can learn from the mistakes you make in your pursuit of each goal:

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Learning from Your Mistakes Worksheet

How I can learn from mistakes made in the pursuit of goal 1:

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How I can learn from mistakes made in the pursuit of goal 2:

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How I can learn from mistakes made in the pursuit of goal 3:

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Remaining Resilient, Even When the Change Feels Permanent

Certainly, one of the toughest things about failing in the pursuit of a goal is trying to remain resilient in spite of the setbacks. On the other hand, it can also be difficult to continue monitoring your thoughts for growth- inhibiting material, even though you feel like you have permanently adopted the growth mindset. Dweck explains that if a person uses the growth strategies she prescribes, but stops using them once he sees improvement, it can actually backfire. She cites a story where a child with the fixed mindset refused to obey his father. At his wits’ end, the father tried some of the growth-oriented strategies by showing respect for his son’s efforts instead of praising only his son’s successes. For a short time, his son’s behavior improved, and it seemed as though he had switched to the growth mindset. In response, the father, thinking the problem was solved, abandoned the growth strategies he was using with his son. The son quickly reverted back to the disrespectful behavior, and the father was even angrier than before because he felt his son [+could +]behave, but just refused to do so.136

As adults learning to remain resilient, we can learn from the above anecdote in the fact that we can easily slip back into bad habits. And if and when we do, it can be very disheartening because we should know better by now. Of course no one is perfect, so occasionally you might find yourself slipping back into a bad habit or two. When you do, you might have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps…and if it is just too much, you might have to get some help from a professional.

When to Seek Professional Assistance

While we all experience small failures and errors on a daily basis, sometimes we are just not able to pick ourselves up after making big mistakes, or we somehow work ourselves into a cycle of self-sabotage. It used to be thought that counseling was only for people with serious mental conditions or for people who are weak. People who needed help were embarrassed to admit that they actually needed to talk to someone. Contrary to former belief, counseling can help someone who is already strong to become even stronger. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, it can help people with emotional baggage or people who are victims of trauma.

If you do need help, recognizing that you need someone to talk to is the first step. A counselor is different than a family member or close friend in that you do not have to worry about them “spilling the beans” to the people you know. Counseling is one of those things that will require an investment of time and probably some money on your part. The time you will need to spend will not just be the hour or so on the couch in the counselor’s office. You will need to spend some time each day identifying your triggers, working through emotional baggage, making notes of your dreams and things you are working through, etc. Each time you meet with the counselor, you will probably discuss with him what you are learning about yourself.

Be sure to make the most of your time with the counselor because the experience can be extremely helpful when it is done right. If you are considering beginning to see a counselor, we wish you the best and we are confident that it will be helpful. On the other hand, if you find that you are making little progress, even despite your best efforts and with the counselor’s help, you should let him know so he can change the game plan. And if still nothing changes, you should probably consider seeing a different counselor.

Chapter 28. Using the Master & Mini Notebooks to Further Enhance Your Progress

In Chapter 1, we suggested that you acquire a notebook so you would be able to copy over each of the sample worksheets provided as you encountered them. Hopefully, you did so and filled out the copied versions. At this point, then, you should have a fair number of pages with notes about everything from the general goals you had set at the beginning of the book to the specific goals you set in the later chapters. The notebook you have been working in thus far will be your master notebook, and you can return to it to update your goals and reflect on larger issues in your life.

In addition, we encourage you to start a second notebook. This will be a mini notebook that should be small enough to carry on your person at all times. The mini notebook is where you reflect on day-to-day issues, express gratitude for your successes and forgive yourself for your shortfalls.

The Master Notebook

The purpose of the master notebook is to help you keep track of what your goals in life are, and to help you learn from the mistakes you make. It provides sort of an overview to your life, a perspective of your life that would be otherwise difficult to obtain. You don’t need to have it on you at all times because it is not the type of thing that you write in every day. It is more like something that you write in maybe once or twice per week.

Each week or so, you can note your general long-term goals as well as the shorter-term goals you would like to set for yourself. Of course under each goal, you try to identify all the tasks that need to be accomplished to reach the goal and assign specifics to each task, as Gollwitzer suggests.

As each week, month, and year passes, you can continue to use the various worksheets provided throughout this text as templates to help you to contemplate how you want to grow, how you want to shape your environment, and to help you to select tasks and goals to make it all happen. The worksheets provide a great starting point for all of the content in the master notebook. We have covered this content in significant detail throughout the text, so let us move on now to the mini notebook.

The Mini Notebook

Whereas the master notebook helps you to see the big picture, the mini notebook is for daily reflection. You keep it with you at all times so that you can make notes as you think of them. When you wake up in the morning, you can write down what you dreamt about during the night and what you think it means. You can write about whatever happens to be on your mind: things you are happy about, things you are worried about, and so on, as well as the reason you feel this way. Personally, I find it is helpful to try to identify specific feelings when I feel passionate about something. I also underline any terms that represent the feelings. This way, when there are a few things on my mind, I can see if there is some underlying feeling that they all have in common, thus giving me even further insight.

You can write about how grateful you are for the experiences you had recently, and for the experiences you may have today and in the future. You can also write about the mistakes you made recently, and how you forgive yourself for making them. So instead of wasting time punishing yourself endlessly, you will put your effort into doing things right today and in the days ahead.

In addition, the mini notebook is helpful in the fact that it can help you let go of things that are bothering you. You can jot down the things you are worried about and note the solution to each of the worries as you think of them. If you cannot think of any solutions at the moment, perhaps you will need to trust in a greater power that has a grand plan for you, and that the solutions will soon become clear.

Hopefully, by maintaining both the master notebook and the mini notebook, it will help you to keep in mind both your purpose in life and how you are trying to realize this purpose every single day.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

The Goal(s) of This Section:

• for us to have a chance to welcome you to the “new you”

• for you to consider how the information you learned will impact your life from this point forward

• for you to consider how this information could benefit others around the globe

Part 9: Looking to the Future

Chapter 29. Welcome to the New You

If you take away only one thing from this text, it should be to let go of all preconceived notions about both your own true potential and the true potential of others. What Gertrud and I have come to realize by performing the research for the presented material is that the true potential of each individual is largely unknown.

At one time, a few hundred years ago, many scientists thought they had basically figured the universe out (or at least thought they were close), including man’s ability to realize personal growth. Over the course of the past few centuries, however, their successors gradually realized there was much more to the universe than meets the naked eye — and so, too, is the case with man’s potential.

Your own potential is no exception. Regardless of what you have been capable of the past, you need to recognize that this apparent potential was highly influenced by numerous environmental factors as well as the variety of misconceptions we have been discussing in this text. So, if you really put your mind to it, and shape your environment into one that encourages personal growth (rather than discourages it), who knows what you could accomplish?

We welcome you to your new perception of yourself. And as you are nearing the end of this text, you are probably realizing that your work is far from done. As we have said before, and as we all know, personal development is an ongoing process. We learn from our successes and we learn from our mistakes. We also learn a lot by interacting with other people. This will be especially helpful if you are working on shifting your mindset. Even if you have the growth mindset, you have plenty of ways to grow, and interacting with like-minded individuals will help you along the way. We encourage you to visit our web site (link provided in the following chapter) for more information on personal growth and for links to interact with other like-minded folks — so see you there!

Chapter 30. What Kind of World Would It Be?

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams

— attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt

We do not want to take too much of your time before you get back to working on the new you. But before we close, we would like you to consider what the world would look like if everyone believed that every individual has unbelievable potential – in one form or another — and if we all acted accordingly.

Perhaps in such a world, so many of us would not feel like we are fighting for survival almost all the time. Instead of running on the treadmill, just trying to run a little faster so we can put some money aside for a rainy day, we would stop occasionally to consider other options aside from working harder. We would have the confidence to take a moment to think about how we can work smarter, and actually enjoy life, without fearing that we will be sucked under because we stopped working for that moment.

As a society, we would also have faith that the money we contribute to the system for the education of children could be well spent if managed properly. This is to say that children would be educated under the premise that not only a few are born with a high level of intelligence, but rather all children can become smart with proper education. And who knows what other impacts this would have?

In sum, the world would be a better place — one with more happiness and less fear. Such a world is possible, and it comes with the change of one individual at a time. One can only hope that someday every individual will realize, “I am UNBELIEVABLE ME.” And this realization will be to the benefit of all.

Please visit our web site PracticalManifestations.com, and join us on both FaceBook www.facebook.com/davidwlowell and Twitter www.twitter.com/davidwlowell to continue the fun. Talk soon and have an AMAZING day!

Appendix A

Biographies of Our Key Resources (Referred to in Chapter 5)

Carol S. Dweck, PhD

According to her page on Amazon.com137 Carol S. Dweck, PhD is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology. She has been the William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and is now the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences…

Peter M. Gollwitzer, PhD

Peter M. Gollwitzer, PhD guides us through techniques for goal- setting and accomplishment. According to his biography page 138 on the University of New York website, he is a professor of Psychology at the university involved in the Social and Cognition and Perception programs within the Department of Psychology. His research pertains to the question of how goals and plans affect cognition and behavior and it is stimulated by four different theoretical concepts: mindsets, implementation intentions, self-defining goals, and subconscious goal pursuits. Gollwitzer received his PhD from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1981.

Appendix B

Why People Tend to Resist New Information (Referred to in Chapter 9)

These results suggest that many citizens have significant information deficits that can be reduced by delivering factual information in a more compelling form [namely, graphs]…

While the results are encouraging, our experimental findings also suggest that misperceptions are not simply the result of information deficits. First, the provision of correct information did not eliminate misperceptions. Non-trivial proportions of respondents continued to hold false beliefs after receiving our graphs. This finding suggests that information deficits are not the only cause of misperceptions; psychological factors also appear to play an important role.

We found that self-affirmation resulted in decreased misperceptions among motivated subgroups when presented without corrective information. People may already implicitly know the facts or be capable of making more accurate inferences about the correct answer if they are buttressed against identity threats in this way. Otherwise, however, people often resist acknowledging uncomfortable facts. What the self-affirmation procedure allows us to see is how threatening it is to concede difficult truths and reject pleasing falsehoods under normal circumstances – a key psychological process in misperception belief.

Source: “The Roles of Information Deficits and Identity Threat…” (excerpt) 139

Appendix C

Anecdotes of the Potential Impact of Mindset on Stages of Personal Growth(Referred to in Chapter 10)

Dweck offers several real-world examples of people being held back by the fixed mindset to illustrate the impact it can have on personal growth. Dweck recounts in the following excerpts140:

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Real World Comparisons of the Two Mindsets: Differences Observed in Four-Year Olds

We offered four-year olds a choice: They could redo an easy jigsaw puzzle or they could try a harder one. Even at this tender age, children with the fixed mindset—ones who believed in fixed traits—stuck with the safe one. Kids who are born smart “don’t do mistakes,” they told us.

Children with the growth mindset—the ones who believed you could get smarter—thought it was a strange choice. Why are you asking me this, lady? Why would anyone want to keep doing the same puzzle over and over? They chose one hard one after another. “I’m dying to figure them out!” exclaimed one little girl.

…One seventh-grade girl summed it up. “I think intelligence is something you have to work for…it isn’t just given to you…Most kids, if they’re not sure of an answer, will not raise their hand to answer the question. But what I usually do is raise my hand, because if I’m wrong, then my mistake will be corrected. Or I will raise my hand and say, ‘How would this be solved?’ or ‘I don’t get this. Can you help me?’ Just by doing that I’m increasing my intelligence.”

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

[Italics in original]

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Real World Comparisons of the Two Mindsets: Differences Observed in College Students

As students arrived to register for their freshman year [at the University of Hong Kong, where everything is in English], we knew which ones were not skilled in English. And we asked them a key question: If the faculty offered a course for students who need to improve their English skills, would you take it?

…Later [after assessing each student’s mindset], we looked at who said yes to the English course. Students with the growth mindset said an emphatic yes. But those with the fixed mindset were not very interested.

Believing that success is about learning, students with the growth mindset seized the chance. But those with the fixed mindset didn’t want to expose their deficiencies. Instead, to feel smart in the short run, they were willing to put their college careers at risk.

This is how the fixed mindset makes people into nonlearners.

Source: Mindset… (excerpt)

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Appendix D

Mainstream Science on Intelligence (Referred to in Chapter 15)

Point #8: The bell curve for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks. The evidence is less definitive for exactly where above IQ 100 the bell curves for Jews and Asians are centered.

Point #10: A high IQ is an advantage in life because virtually all activities require some reasoning and decision-making. Conversely, a low IQ is often a disadvantage, especially in disorganized environments. Of course, a high IQ no more guarantees success than a low IQ guarantees failure in life. There are many exceptions, but the odds for success in our society greatly favor individuals with higher

IQ’s.

Point #14: Individuals differ in intelligence due to differences in both their environments and genetic heritage. Heritability estimates range from 0.4 to 0.8 (on a scale from 0 to 1), most thereby indicating that genetics plays a bigger role than does environment in creating IQ differences among individuals…

Point #16: That IQ may be highly heritable does not mean that it is not affected by the environment. Individuals are not born with fixed, unchangeable levels of intelligence (no one claims they are). IQs do gradually stabilize during childhood, however, and generally change little thereafter.

Point #17: Although the environment is important in creating IQ differences, we do not know yet how to manipulate it to raise low IQs permanently. Whether recent attempts show promise is still a matter of considerable scientific debate.

Point #19: There is no persuasive evidence that the IQ bell curves for different racial-ethnic groups are converging…

Point #20: Racial-ethnic differences in IQ bell curves are essentially the same when youngsters leave high school as when they enter first grade. However, because bright youngsters learn faster than slow learners, these same IQ differences lead to growing disparities in amount learned as youngsters progress from grades one to 12. As large national surveys continue to show, black 17- year-olds perform, on the average, more like white 13-year-olds in reading, math, and science, with Hispanics in between.

Point #22: There is no definitive answer to why IQ bell curves differ across racial-ethnic groups…Most experts believe that environment is important in pushing the bell curves apart, but that genetics could be involved too.

Point #23: Racial-ethnic differences are somewhat smaller but still substantial for individuals from the same socio-economic backgrounds. To illustrate, black students from prosperous families tend to score higher in IQ than blacks from poor families, but they score no higher, on average, than whites from poor families.

Point #25: The research findings neither dictate nor preclude any particular social policy, because they can never determine our goals. They can, however, help us estimate the likely success and side-effects of pursuing those goals via different means.

Source: “Mainstream science on intelligence…” (excerpts)141

Appendix E

Synopsis of the Mindset-Shift Study (Referred to in Chapter 22)

For the first two sessions, the groups were kept together in the same class. They learned about the physiology of the brain and how learning can help the brain to establish new neural connections.

For the second two sessions, the groups were split apart. The [*experimental group *]learned how changes in the brain occur as a result of learning. The [*control group *]learned instead about how memory works.

For the third two sessions, the two groups were brought back together again. All participants learned about the dangers of the use of stereotypes and that it is possible for students to struggle throughout their school career if they were never taught proper motivation techniques.

For the final two sessions, the two groups were split up again. The [*experimental group *]explored the importance of the brain’s ability to grow and become stronger. The [*control group *]engaged in various exercises: 1) answering questions about their current academic experiences; 2) being reminded of the lesson on memory strategies and answering questions about memory; and c) working on an activity where they tried to match pictures of animals with their brains and a description of their special skills — and identifying the differences between them.

Source: “Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement…”(paraphrased)142

About the Authors

David Lowell

David Lowell lives with his lovely wife and their two children. He continues to follow the latest research related to personal development and global advancement.

Gertrud Lola

Gertrud Lola has made the healing arts her life’s work. She is a homeopathic practitioner and holistic massage therapist with certification in myofascial release therapy, aromatherapy, naturopathy and Reiki, among other techniques. She has studied Native American shamanism, been taught by a Shaolin Master and, inspired by his lectures, been certified to lecture on Dr. Joe Dispenza’s theory of how to “Break the Habit of Being Yourself.”

While nurturing the wellness of her clients’ spirits, minds and bodies,Gertrud continues her quest for the human potential.

Glossary

Behaviorism: a highly influential academic school of psychology that…was concerned exclusively with measurable and observable data and excluded ideas, emotions, and the consideration of inner mental experience and activity in general. In behaviorism, the organism is seen as “responding” to conditions (stimuli) set by the outer environment and by inner biological processes.

Source: Britannica(excerpt)143

[*Biological Determinism: *]…the idea that most human characteristics, physical and mental, are determined at conception by hereditary factors passed from parent to offspring… [It implies] a rigid causation largely unaffected by environmental factors…

Source: [_Britannica _](excerpt)144

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: form of psychotherapy that blends strategies from traditional behavioral treatments with various cognitively oriented strategies. It is different from other forms of psychotherapy (e.g., traditional psychodynamic psychotherapies) in that the focus of treatment is on changing the maladaptive thought patterns, feelings, and behaviours that are believed to be maintaining a problem, rather than on helping a client to gain insight into early developmental factors that may have set the stage for the problem.

Source: [_Britannica _](excerpt)145

[*Cognitive Dissonance: *]the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in a person is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: the person rejects, explains away, or avoids the new information, persuades himself that no conflict really exists, [etc.]…

Source: [_Britannica _](excerpt)146

Determinism: in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes…

Source: [_Britannica _](excerpt)147

[*Doctrine: *]a group of ideas or beliefs that are considered to be true.

Dysrationalia: …the inability to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence.

Source: What Intelligence Tests Miss… (excerpt)148

[*Essentialism: *]the doctrine that the ultimate reality of things are embodied in characteristics perceptible to the senses.

[*Eugenics: *]the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans…

Source: [_Britannica _](excerpt)149

[*Genetic Essentialism: *]…[A reduction of] the self to a molecular entity, equating human beings, in all their social, historical, and moral complexity, with their genes.

Source: “The DNA mystique: the gene as a cultural icon” (excerpt)150

Hebb’s Law (as explained by Hebb): Let us assume then that the persistence or repetition of a reverberatory activity (or “tract”) tends to induce lasting cellular changes that add to its stability. The assumption can be precisely stated as follows: When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite a cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A’s efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased.

[italics in original]

Source: The Organization of Behavior… (excerpt)152

Mindset (Fixed versus Growth): a state of mind that is based on the belief that one’s qualities, namely those pertaining to an individual’s intelligence, skill sets, and thought and behavior patterns, are either carved in stone (fixed mindset) or can be cultivated through one’s efforts (growth mindset).

Source: [_Mindset… _](paraphrased) 153

[*Paradigm: *]a conceptual word-view that consists of formal theories, classic experiments, and trusted methods…

Source: Britannica154 (paraphrased)

[*Psychological Essentialism: *]…people’s representations of things reflect a belief that these things have essences or underlying natures that make them what they are.

Source: “In genes we trust…” (excerpt)155

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112Torrey, Pp. 217 refers to Kline, P. (1972). Fact and Fantasy in Freudian Theory. London: Methuen, Pp 93.

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114Torrey Pp. 218 refers to Eysenck, Hans and Wilson, Glenn D. (1973)

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Unbelievable Me: 5 Steps to a Mindset for Success

The growth mindset makes headlines in the major news outlets (such as Time Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes Magazine and others) almost daily. Shift to the “GROWTH mindset” today! "This is a hard-hitting, research-based survey of self-discovery techniques and it's a top recommendation for readers who come to it with the necessary prerequisites of absorbing a scientific and research-based approach to lasting change." -- D. Donovan, Senior E-Book Reviewer MBR Bookwatch "Debut authors Lowell and Lola's thoroughly researched, compelling self-help work focuses on undoing 'fixed mindset thinking'...An inventive, entertaining mix of history, research and self-help." --Kirkus Reviews Magazine The “fixed mindset” has hindered human progress and development in the West for close to 2,000 years. Discover the explicit details of how after decades of investigation, eminent researchers taught numerous individuals to realized their true potential by shifting their mindset. Lowell and Lola present a 5-step program based on the above research that will help you to unleash your true potential by shifting to the growth mindset. A number of worksheets are provided as well as additional information on goal-attainment strategies to help you put the learned material into practice, and give you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SUCCEED. So whether you’re struggling in life or are already successful and just want to take it to the next level, this book is for you!

  • ISBN: 9780990805717
  • Author: David Lowell
  • Published: 2016-07-19 01:06:16
  • Words: 55240
Unbelievable Me: 5 Steps to a Mindset for Success Unbelievable Me: 5 Steps to a Mindset for Success