I recently came across an article that compared a growth mindset to a performance mindset. Intrigued, I clicked on it and did not realize how pertinent it would be to my life. For the past couple of years I have really struggled with a performance mindset. No accomplishment is good enough. I’m always striving for this imaginary bar that I create for myself and I’m never able to reach it. This is then interpreted as a “failure” in my mind because I always seem to miss that mark that I set for myself.
This has been eating away at me for years and has created a very negative mental space. I wake up some mornings and the first thing that goes through my mind is how worthless I am. “You piece of junk, you’re going to under perform again just like you always do.”
Day after day after day this can become incredibly draining.
In contrast, the growth mindset focuses on taking each situation, whether a “success” or a “failure”, and learning from them. What this does is removes the possibility for “failure” in your mind, because if you approach every situation with this mindset then no matter the outcome, you have improved yourself and learned something that will point you in the right direction.
I’m just dumping my thoughts here, but I think a majority of people struggle with these same issues and the performance mindset bleeds into every facet of life. Your professional life, your love life, your spiritual life, your relationships with friends, and on and on. Everything becomes about one-upping the other person to make yourself feel like you are surpassing your imaginary bar.
Am I saying that it is bad to have goals you are striving for? No, definitely not. I would not have made it to where I am in my life now if I wasn’t dedicated and put in the work to achieve my goals. What I am saying is we can’t create bars that are unreachable. Wow, you’re really selling yourself short there buddy. Na, I just think psychologically setting attainable goals and reaching those goals spurs you forward to accomplish some pretty great things.
I’m also not saying that you should loathe and hangout in your comfort zone all the time to avoid feeling like you have failed. Failure is inevitable, and if you aren’t failing then you are doing something wrong.
One of my favorite quotes that was the background on my phone for sometime is, “Failure isn’t fatal, but the fear of failure is.” We must put ourselves in situations that stretch our abilities and make us feel uncomfortable. I am not trying to say avoid failure. I am just saying we need to re-calibrate our minds on how to react when failure does occur. Use it as a learning opportunity. An opportunity to not fail in that area again. Instead of having failure define your self worth, how about we make failure our greatest weapon.
This performance mindset has also bled into my spiritual life. I feel like I have to perform for God in order for Him to bless me or love me. There is nothing you can do that will make God love you more or less than he already does.
In our small group this month we have been studying Galatians where Paul really digs into grace through faith and not works. When we strive to please God through works we must strive for perfection, which is unachievable because in order to fulfill this we would have to follow every law to a T.
The Message version is able to paint this picture more eloquently than I am. Galatians 3:11-14 reads:
“The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in scripture: “The one who does these things [rule keeping] continues to live by them.” Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his spirit, in and with us by believing-- just the way Abraham received it.”
What if we moved away from a performance/work based life and faith and embraced the truth that Jesus dissolved the curse on the cross? It is so much easier said than done, and something that will take time to truly believe, but let’s work on this together, friends.
I’ll leave you with the first verse of Jireh by Elevation Worship and Maverick City. It says: