We talk to our kids about making mistakes as learning opportunities all the time, but how many do we do as adults. Usually, in a room full of strangers, I will find the one or two familiar faces and never meet anyone new. Though I have no problem performing a solo at McCaw Hall, I have a fear of public speaking in front of other adults.
A book I read a couple of years ago changed the way I do some things. That book was Carol Dwek’s Mindsets. Simply, there are fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. Learning and growth is all about trial and error, and repeated practice. Some will use the excuse, I’m just not that good at it, or I’m to afraid, etc. and refuse to try new things and therefore grow.
This year, I’ve decided that I would try to work on growing. Well this weekend I got a chance to do both. The PNAIS had their fall conference in Portland this year. I took the train down last night and met someone I didn’t know before. We had a great conversation and it was really nice getting outside my comfort zone.
I also had the privilege to introduce our first key-note speaker, John Medina (author of NYtimes bestseller Brain Rules). It was an opportunity for growth, but one I was incredibly fearful of. It wasn’t just that I was going to speak in front of 600 adults, but they were all teachers. Teachers can be the most judgmental people. I know, that was a judgement. I’m a teacher. Get over it. Anyway, it wasn’t perfect, I was very nervous, and made a few mistakes even though I had practiced many times. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity for growth and I learned a few things for the next time I might have a chance to speak to adults again.
Being afraid to make mistakes can be debilitating sometimes, but if I expect all my students to grow, even in areas where they might feel uncomfortable, I need to take risks too.
After the keynote, in spite of the mistakes here and there, and the nerves, I had a great amount of support from my colleagues. The focused on all the things that were positive. If we can get our kids to do the same, imagine all the success that would emerge from risk taking.