Winning, Through Failure

new_world-1434635A couple of days ago I came across a free .pdf file that someone had uploaded. It was a book on computing security or something of the sort. I figured it would be great if I read some of it to help me prepare for my classes, which started today. I downloaded it and I transferred it to my iPad. I opened it and it wasn’t the .pdf that I know I had just downloaded. So, I went to my computer and made sure it was the correct one and re-opened it on my iPad. The same .pdf file showed up. Instead of a .pdf on computing security, it was a .pdf on ‘The Psychology of Success’. Weird, this has nothing to do with computer security. I had no idea what was in this file. Instead of deleting it and forgetting about uploading the actual .pdf, I decided to take a chance and read it. Why not, right? I did just spend 10 minutes trying to get it sorted.  I chose a random chapter and began to read. Half an hour passed by before I realized I had read 4 chapters from the ‘wrong’ file I had uploaded. By the end of reading, I would realize that this was, indeed, the ‘correct’ file I was supposed to be reading all along.

The author of the book did a study on a group four year olds. She gave each child a puzzle to figure out and kept giving out puzzles until kids stopped being able to figure them out. She then asked each child if they would like a chance to take the puzzle home so they can solve it there instead, where they would have more time to do so. She received two different sets of answers. First were the children who said ‘no’. They sheepsihly declined the offer to try and figure it out at home, while some kids lied about already having the puzzle at home so there was no need for them to bring it home (which was an obvious lie). Some other children, however, jumped at the chance to bring the puzzle home and solve it there. Some also went as far as to ask if there were other puzzles, harder than the ones they couldn’t solve in class, that they could also take home and see if they could do it. The author concludes that “As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart”.

She then goes on to talk about two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. Individuals with the fixed mindset were individuals who were content with knowing what they already knew, they only felt ‘smart‘ or ‘superior‘ when they got things right on the first try, receiving instant validation, sometimes in a form of a letter grade or an affirmitive statement; these individuals, essentially, did not want to grow outside of what they already knew. Then, you had individuals with the growth mindset. These individuals sought challenge and embraced change, they wanted to grow outside of their comfort, they wanted to learn the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of everything, they were individuals who wouldn’t get something right the first time, the second time or perhaps, even the 10th time, yet they still wanted to learn why they couldn’t and how they could. After reading these chapters I closed my tablet and thought about the information I had just read and let it soak deep within my brain. I felt like I was both of these types of mindsets, but moreso of the fixed mindset. There were plenty of times where I would stay away from something I couldn’t do or understand, like math and chemistry, and others I would seek to learn more, such as everything else but math and chemistry. I know those are only two examples of an infinite list, but what if I had known about this mindset and changed my way of thinking earlier in my life? I quickly threw those thoughts away because there is no use in thinking of the past and what could have been. You are here, now, and what you do now will dictate the rest of your future.

There is this door, a bulky, towering, yet simple looking gray door, a door that has always been there since I can remember. I don’t know what it’s doing there, but I know its there. I walked past it every single day of my life, never giving notice to the door. Sometimes, while walking past it, I’d wonder what it was doing here, but sadly thats as far as my curiousity would go. No, that was as far as I would let my curiosity go. Instead, I would glance at it every now and then, and continue on walking to wherever I was going. Then, one day, as I am walking past this door again, I notice that it is slightly ajar. I stop, this time letting myself be curious. I walk up to it in wonder and slowly push the door open. I’m only able to push it open a couple of inches and in an instant the door went flying open, revealing another path I can walk. The question is, am I content with what I know? With what I have been doing for the past 28 years? Do I want to let the past go and start something new? I step through the door and as soon as I do I notice that this grey door wasn’t gray, it was in color. What color I don’t know, perhaps it is any color I choose it to be, but I know it is no longer gray. I step through, unafraid, yet excited, to see where this path would take me.

And just like that, my mind was open to something new, no, not even new, something that has always been there and all I had to do was reach for it. For the longest time I have been stuck, no glued to a certain way of thinking, of being, that was leading me deeper and deeper into a hole that had no way of getting back out. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid to do something different because I wasn’t 100% sure I would win. Case in point, the puzzles that those children couldn’t slove. I was the child who couldn’t figure it out and didn’t want to take it home, where I would have all the time in the world, where I could use my computer to solve it, where I could ask my parents for help, I refused to admit that I could be wrong. The answer has been with me, with us, all along. For me, it was a door. For you, it could be in the form of something else. I don’t believe in coincidences. It wasn’t a coincidence that I wanted to read about computer security, yet when I opened the file it was a file on the psychology of success. Something, whatever it might be, be it divine power or by another hand, wanted me to read this. I truly believe it was meant for me. I also am not one to give credit to divine power so easily, as I would rather rationally think of all other reasons before even considering that, but there are just some things you can’t give credit rationally. In this case, I believe something out there knew how lost I was and was trying to guide me into finding who I truly am.

You want to win? Then you have to stop being afraid. You have to take that chance and be prepared to fail. Embrace what you aren’t good at. Sometimes, only through failure do we truly learn what it means to win.


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