Wednesday, September 26, 2012

She Said I Was Smart, So I Am: The Importance of Mindset

This article is written by a member of our expert blogging community. 

Whether you call it your mindset, your paradigm, or your world view, the lens that you look through, intentionally or not, and interpret the world around you and your place in it is important to identify and understand. Dependent upon your age, this lens has been honed by years of messages from those around you, your own experience, and the outcomes of the choices you’ve made.  No one is oblivious to these pressures.  If the messages you have received are positive ones, like

"You are capable"
"You have integrity"
"You make good choices"

your mindset is different from the person who received negative messages, like

"You are unworthy"
"You lie and cheat with every breath you take"
"You make one poor decision after another, no wonder you are in the position you’re in"

The “tapes” we play in our head each day contribute to our mindset.


Mindset is important in afterschool for many reasons, but two of them are these:

Your mindset will affect the students in your program

The mindset of your staff members will affect the students in your program

·      You and the rest of your staff play an integral role in bringing strong, positive messages to your youth who are building a paradigm and mindset. If you have a positive attitude it will set the tone for your staff to have a positive attitude which will then set the stage for young people to participate in a constructive way in your afterschool program.  It’s important that you understand the importance of what Covey calls “carrying your own weather.”  Looking for the positive things in your program will allow you to build on your strengths and everyone will be able to share in this attitude.  Even when it is “stormy” in your program, you’re overburdened by hiring new staff, students feel pressure because of upcoming tests, or any number of other things that create tension, when you “carry your own weather” you look for the rainbows rather than the clouds and this creates a learning environment for everyone.

You and your staff play a pivotal role in how your young people see themselves.  I think of the young student who responded to my comment about how well he was doing his homework by pointing at his Program Leader and saying, “She said I was smart, so I am.”  That message from her resonated in his mind and he believed himself capable, and as a result, he was.  Your words matter to youth.  Use them to support and build up.  Share a positive mindset with students and help them develop one of their own.

What is it that you do to support a positive mindset?  Check out this tool to help you start thinking about mindset, and share your thoughts with us here or leave a comment below!

Photo via (cc) Flickr user shock264

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