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One book, about growth mindset, by Carol Dweck in 2006, set off a minor revolution in how humans can learn to fulfill their potential.

The growth mindset is a frame of mind that focuses on the making progress through learning rather than on grades.

The growth mindset is a frame of mind that focuses on how to make progress through learning rather than on grades.

This fascinating subject–growth mindset–a motivating method of progressing on one’s life-path–is described both as a genuinely groundbreaking idea and a simple idea by reviewers of Dweck’s bestseller.
(Audit of Humankind, chapter 1.7)

This fascinating subject--growth mindset--a motivating method of progressing on one's life-path--is described both as a truly groundbreaking idea and a simple idea by reviewers of Dweck's bestseller. Share on X

We’re doing an Audit of the Universe and Humankind. We’re taking a closer look at the innards of humans–at mind level–to see what makes a human, human. And we’re discussing the singularities that characterize each human being worldwide.

We’ve covered several characteristics that pertain solely to humankind: Two-faced natures, mastering space-time, creativity, imagination, learning, and choices. This seventh singularity can be directly related to our ability to and need to learn, via training and practice.

Why do I say this? Well, let me submit to you that by describing growth mindset as groundbreaking and simple ideas should help us realize something. We humans do NOT understand what a human being is!

By describing growth mindset as groundbreaking and simple ideas should help us realize that we humans do NOT understand what a human being is! Share on X

We have a fixed idea that corresponds to the Smithsonian Institutes definition of humankind: Walking Upright, Tools & Food, Bodies, Brains, Social Life, Language & Symbols, Humans Change the World. There is no reference whatsoever to any of the singularities I’ve described. There are two more human singularities to come. Including the final summary which puts all these singularities into a coherent perspective.

If we knew what, or rather who, humans are, then we’d have a much better knowledge of how to help humankind function more coherently. How to make humans work better–at an individual and collective level. Indeed, Carol Dweck has focused on this very-important 7th point, and her book about growth is a necessity, to say the least, even an essential read. The cover displays the need for this type of growth mindset–helping others improve, rather than evaluating their minor and major failures and success. Such furtherance is a primordial need in diverse but significant areas of life: Parenting, business, school, and relationships.

Thrill of Progress

One of the biggest thrills in life is seeing oneself and others, improving their lives. And I’m not referring to major items like earning more money or living in a luxury house. Progress starts early with the ability to pile blocks one on top of each other, learning the alphabet, then multiplication tables and riding a bicycle. Then comes learning the waltz, driving a car, scoring a few points in a basketball game–some of the incremental improvements we add to our life experience.

That’s what being a human is all about. This titillation results from even a minimum amount of progress in any minor or major area of undertaking. Be it an easier way to clean the house, a new accounting skill or mastering a pass around a player’s legs in soccer–it’s this growth mindset that characterizes humans alone.

One of the biggest thrills in life is seeing oneself and others improving. It starts early with being able to pile up blocks, ride a bicycle, learn the waltz, drive a car--incremental improvements to our life experience. Share on X

It makes us who we are. It is a description of humankind. Yes, I’m emphasizing, even overemphasizing this point. Firstly, because we’re turning the puzzle pieces (and we humans are one of those pieces) right side up. Secondly, we’re seeing the contours of each piece–what a human being is.

Here’s a rather comical personal example I recently experienced in searching for better solutions. I learned about ginger. She is not a lady, but spice and I enjoyed the taste of ginger ale. Except that here in France, it’s not available. I hadn’t put it together that the taste was from the spice until I drank some ginger tea made from this root. The virtues of naturally grown ginger far outweigh the treated powder-in-a-throwaway-plastic-container made who-knows-where, transported who-knows-how-far, with who-knows-what-other-ingredients thrown in for good measure.

The question was how to extract the juice from the ginger easily. The best way was to crush it, and since we have a garlic press, I used that for a couple of years. Then I was on vacation and bought some fresh ginger, but there was no garlic press. How to extract the juice? Hunting around in the kitchen I found a vegetable shredder which did the trick but was a horror to clean. Similar to the garlic press, which had pieces caught in the holes; additionally, the shredder had pieces all over the raised points.

When I returned home, although we had a shredder I wanted something more! So I wouldn’t have to do a lot of cleaning up which was messy and time-consuming (space-time mastery! – it’s always there, whatever you’re doing).

I ended up using a coarse wood file! Just pour the hot water over the file, and it’s clean–no more holes, no more waste, no time loss. And my ginger tea has no more lumps and tastes better than ever. I think I’m going to try other spices, even lemon, and orange peel if I can get my hands on some non-sprayed fruit! See, it’s also economizing water, ecological and saving the planet at my level. It is space-time mastery at its best. Sure I’m happy with the results, but it‘s the pathway–the progress–to reach those results that is the most rewarding.

fresh ginger tea preparation

Fresh ginger tea preparation. From garlic press to vegetable shredder to a coarse file. A study in growth mindset

I’m always amazed by progress and growth, people working on the process of improving things. Remember when wine bottles were upright in a box with cardboard dividers? Today wine boxes and practically all product boxes replete with handle, inside separators, lid, and clasps are all incorporated in one cutout template. We’ve come a long way, and every time I get a box, I take it apart to see the model. It’s fascinating.

Growth mindset for others

Managing and coping with the ups-and-downs of life is part of growth mindset. Letting other people we have a responsibility for, work it out for themselves is an essential part of the path to progress. We shouldn’t lay everything out for our kids. They have to learn how to fend for themselves. I’m not saying we are not involved. I am saying we help them ‘learn the method,’ even with trial and error.

We should let them go through some controlled ‘rough times’ for themselves, Yes, we’re there for them, but the onus is on them to solve their problems. Yes, this needs wisdom and discernment according to the age and ability of those around us. They’ve got to learn how to make choices to progress.

We should let them go through some controlled 'rough times' for themselves, Yes, we're there for them, but the onus is on them to solve their problems. Yes, this needs wisdom and discernment. Share on X

The mayor of Mouans-Sartoux, in South-East France, a village of ten thousand inhabitants has a school with 1000 children. He thought that is would be good to serve bio lunches at the canteen. They set aside 6 hectares of agriculture land for the project in which the children participate. They get their hands dirty and love it. Even the parents get involved, and through the learning process, eating habits–and especially, minds–are changing.

The village succeeded in its project of bringing sustainable, local agriculture to solve lousy eating habits, wasted food, and not knowing the origin of food. The village also addressed a host of other down-to-earth (no pun intended) everyday life interests.

I learned that initially saplings were planted in hand-made woven baskets made from rushes. These were then planted directly in the earth to maintain the root structure. The baskets rotted away, bringing nutrition to the ground; quite a difference from the plastic-throwaway pots we waste today. Sometimes progress is reversed, and real progress is realizing that.

This image shows two mindsets: the fixed and the growth. It reveals we have a choice (human singularity) to learn (human singularity). Be creative (human singularity) with our space-time (human singularity).

Growth Mindset is a way to progress to mastering the skills of life

Growth Mindset is a way to progress to mastering the skills of life

The number of How-To books on the market nowadays highlights growth mindset, not to mention the DIY Youtube videos. Don’t you want to progress, deepen your understanding, hone our skills? Sure you do, becoming more proficient in our work and play is part and parcel of that singularity that characterizes every human being. Another human singularity.

This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 1.8 of the book Audit of Humankind.


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