My youth was spent on a block of retail stores. A grocer that became a TV repair shop was on one corner next to a drug store that connected to Mom’s café which was under the same roof as Frank’s Shoe Shop. Next door was a lumber yard and then at the end of that block was a gas station/auto repair shop. That was my neighborhood. I hung out in those businesses listening to adult conversations, helping if I could and generally staying out of the way. Frank, the shoe man, wasn’t glad to have me. He thought I needed a second job walking beans or sweeping the street.
One day (I was 12-13) while walking across the driveway of the gas station I heard a conversation about a young employee whom I knew and admired. The owner of the gas station said, “He is a good worker, until he is corrected, or I try to teach him something new. He receives that as criticism—it’s like correction disqualifies him.”
Dr. Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., wrote Mindset—The New Psychology of Success, (Ballantine Books, 2016). She teaches there are two basic types of mindsets: Fixed Mindsets and Growth Mindsets. A “fixed mindset” is the foundation of the belief that we are born with abilities, talents, gifts. You either “got it” or you don’t. A “growth mindset” is a belief that abilities can be learned.
This explains my understanding of spiritual gifts. God plants desires and dreams in our spirits and assumes we will develop the embryo equipping abilities He gives through the Holy Spirit. Sometimes all we are aware is a passion and vision of a specific problem being met.
Dr. Caroline Leaf teaches in her book, Think, Learn, Succeed, about fifteen mindsets as Growth Mindsets. As an aside, here, all the writers I’ve been studying in relationship to mental health, anxiety, depression, burnout talk about mindsets and mindfulness as determining.
Dr. Dweck tells the story of Billy Beane who “…was a natural. Everyone agreed he was the next Babe Ruth.” He is the athlete about whom the movie Moneyball is written. He lacked one thing. The mindset of a champion.
“But the minute things went wrong, Beane searched for something to break. ‘It wasn’t merely that he didn’t like to fail; it was if he didn’t know how to fail.’
“As he moved up in baseball from the minor leagues to the majors, things got worse and worse. Each at-bat became a nightmare, another opportunity for humiliation, and with every botched at-bat, he went to pieces. As one scout said, ‘Billy was of the opinion that he should never make an out.’
“Did Beane try to fix his problems in constructive ways? No, of course not, because this is a story of a fixed mindset. Natural talent should not need help. Effort is for others, the less endowed. Natural talent does ask for help. It is an admission of weakness. In short, the natural does not analyze his deficiencies and coach or practice them away. The very idea of deficiencies is terrifying.
“Being so imbued with the fixed mindset, Beane was trapped. Trapped by his huge talent. Beane the player never recovered from the fixed mindset, but Beane the incredibly successful major-league executive did.
“There was another player who lived and played side by side with Beane in the minors and the majors, Lenny Dykstra. Dykstra did not have a fraction of Beane’s endowment of ‘natural ability,’ but Beane watched him in awe. As Beane later described, ‘He had no concept of failure…. And I was the opposite.’
“Beane continues, ‘I started to get a sense of what a baseball player was and I could see it wasn’t me. It was Lenny.’
“As he watched, listened, and mulled it over, it dawned on Beane that mindset was more important than talent. …scoring runs—the whole point of baseball—was more about process than talent.
“…as general manager of the 2002 Oakland Athletics, Beane led his team to a season of 103 victories—winning the division championship and almost breaking the American League record for consecutive wins. The team had the second-lowest payroll in baseball! They didn’t buy talent, they bought mindset.” (Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ballantine Books, 2016, Pages 82-83)
Lenny Dykstra keeps himself in the news with opinions and observations on politics and culture. I’ll let someone else explain that behavior. I loved to watch him play ball. When I think of him, it is usually a memory of him stealing second base or catching a fly in center field.
That gas station operator was on the money when he thought his employee felt disqualified when he didn’t know everything or that he didn’t get everything automatically correct.
When we renew our minds as directed in Romans 12:1-2, we exchange closed mindsets to growth mindsets; from toxic to healthy.
More about this in the next two Benton Blogs.
©2022 D. Dean Benton