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Comfort Over Growth

MP900285065At our youth ranch, Level Three has its privileges.  I won’t go into all the specifics but it not only allows more freedom in communication, food choice and clothes, it also allows for earning some money and occasionally spending that money on great things like ice cream.

It also has its drawbacks: More responsibility, higher expectations for leadership, and being a strong example to other residents (and staff).

I was surprised to hear that Jeff, one of the teens at the ranch, didn’t want to move from Level Two to Level Three.  Where most kids can’t wait to get the signatures of support form staff and other residents, he accepted the form with a sigh and proceeded to just sit on it.  He didn’t want more responsibility, the possibility of messing up and then the embarrassment of dropping back to Level Two.

It’s easy to make a quick judgment about Jeff and tell him to get out of the safety of the bunny slope (yes, I will use a lot of skiing and snowboarding analogies) and enjoy the joy and challenge of the mountain.  Yet, how many of us regularly choose the safe and predictable over greater freedom, joy, growth, and risk?  Examples I’ve seen and experienced include not applying for the promotion, not joining the class at the gym, and not volunteering to lead a small group at church.  All these opportunities come with a possible downside and so we stay stuck.

Carol Dweck, a researcher and psychologist at Stanford University, wrote an amazing book called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
.”  Those with a growth mindset believe that with effort, they can get better at things.  Those with the fixed mindset believe that talent is not determined by effort but instead is something you are born with.  Failure shows that you aren’t talented.  Kids with a growth mindset enjoy trying increasingly difficult puzzles and failure makes them try even harder.  Children with the fixed mindset prefer to repeat puzzles they already figured out and resist puzzles that would show they are not talented.

The best news is that we can learn to have a growth mindset.  We can learn from athletes like Michael Jordan who practiced missed shots after games.  We can learn from Thomas Edison who had over 30 scientists working around the clock, failing at making a light bulb until one worked.

Jeff is now meeting with staff and peers, getting their support for his move to Level Three.   This has been an awesome learning time for Jeff as he has learned that his fear and mindset are the things that are getting in the way of his growth and a lot of fun.


What things are getting in the way of your growth?  What has worked for you as you stepped away from the comfortable and decided to grow?