Below is my fourth Toastmaster speech – How to Say It

The aims for this speech project focus on your selection of words and phrases:

  • Choose words and grammar which communicate clearly.
  • Choose words and grammar which appeal to the senses.
  • Eliminate jargon.

brainIt was Friday afternoon. The school just ended and I was getting ready to go home – putting the papers in order, writing the warm up and homework for the next week on the board – just the usual stuff. When, one of my honors chem students came. I could see she was upset – teary eyes, long face.

What happened, Julia? Just a really bad day. History is one of my favorite subject and I got my midterm essay back today. I was expecting an A and instead got a C+. After class, headed back to my car and there’s a little yellow sticker on the windshield. It’s a parking ticket for $300. I called my best friend to get some sympathy and she sort of blew me off.

Well this is just an example of some situations that we face in everyday life. Now, what would be going through your head if you were Julia?

Maybe you’d think: “I’m so stupid to park somewhere where I’d get a ticket. I’m going to go home and mope. Life stinks.”
Or maybe you’d think “At least it was only a midterm and a C+ is a long way from an F… so I need to work harder to pull up the grade, be more careful parking, and talk with my friend to see if anything’s going on.”

The reason I bring up this story isn’t just to say “hey, don’t sweat the small stuff”. The point is to ask the question “why doesn’t it seem like small stuff to begin with?”

I read a book recently called Mindset by Carol Dweck that I think provides a clue to the answer. It describes two different beliefs that somebody can have about the world – one she calls a fixed mindset and the other a growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe it’s not possible to change basic qualities like intelligence and personality. If you have a growth mindset, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you believe anybody can become an Einstein or Beethoven, but that you believe you can’t really know until you try.

One of the points she made that really resonated with me is the difference in how effort is viewed from each of the mindsets. From a fixed mindset, effort is a bad thing. If you get an A without effort that says you’re a really super smart person. If you spent a lot of effort, you’re not such a smart person. So ironically, people with a fixed mindset spend a lot of effort trying to appear as if they didn’t spend much effort.

People with fixed mindsets aren’t necessarily less confident but their confidence is more fragile. Researchers did a study where they took a group of employees learning computer skills. Half of the people were randomly put in a group that was told that computer skills were all a matter of how much natural ability they possessed and half of them were told that computer skills could be developed through practice. The people in the growth mindset group became more and more confident as they learned from mistakes and improved. The people in the fixed mindset group became less and less confident as they made mistakes. The more they learned the less confident they got. So it’s not just an innate quality of confidence, a different belief can lead you down one path or another.

So Why am I giving all this information to you?

Its because; skill is something that you can cultivate; not merely something you’re born with. You can become more creative, more intelligent, more athletic, more artistic and more successful by focusing on the process – NOT the outcome, or the goal.

“Instead of winning the championship – commit to the process of training like a champion. Instead of worrying about writing a best selling book – commit to the process of publishing your ideas on a consistent basis. Instead of worrying about losing 30 pounds -commit to the process of eating healthy every day.” – James Clear

Its not about the outcome, its about creating the identity of the type of person who gets to enjoy those results, who enjoys this journey of Growth!