If we want the very best for our families, we need foundational fundamentals that will keep all members moving forward towards greater emotional and relational maturity that will cultivate deeper connections as time goes on. What might that fundamental be?

Brain - fixed vs. growth mindset
Brain - fixed vs. growth mindset

FAMILY FOUNDATION FUNDAMENTAL: Self awareness that empowers and equips us to move our family forward in what matters most.

To make this happen, a growth mindset in the area of emotional and relational health is absolutely essential. It's terrible when mom, dad, or kids feel like they can't change the negative ways they relate and respond. So they get busy and distract themselves rather than learn how to grow.

Looking at the graphic, it's easy to see why the growth mindset should be preferred:

With a growth mindset...

  • We're passionate for learning rather than being hungry for approval.
  • We can see failure as growth rather than something to avoid.
  • We can experience meaningful improvement rather than just acquire head-knowledge.
  • We recognize the joy and power of everyone succeeding together.

But where do fixed or growth mindsets come from?

Well, the root of both is a desire to be loved and valued and this is where it gets critical. If it's achieved by performance and success and this becomes a default, there's a higher likelihood to grow a fixed mindset. That's because focusing on how we look or what we do is motivated by approval - others and / or ourselves. When approval becomes the priority, learning and growth take a back seat because often times, it's not pretty or impressive to learn and go through phases of change. Actually quite the opposite - as in awkward, stupid, embarrassing, etc.

In contrast, when the desire to be loved and valued is met apart from what we do, ie. we are greatly loved and valued unconditionally, we are much less likely to be afraid of the effort, uncertainty and difficulty of new and higher challenges. This gives rise to the growth mindset which gets us on the road to wisdom.

How does this happen? Well, the road to greater character development is always paved with lessons from mistakes. This means mistakes are necessary and thus we should value them properly rather than trying so hard to prevent them. Of course not all mistakes are created equal. Most are affordable; some are not. But there is no significant, substantial growth without mistakes and learning from them. Definitely the most important thing is the learning. And so to maximize it, we want our minds to be in learning mode as much as possible - the growth mindset.

Yet there is something even more foundational than learning from mistakes and that's being able to learn from mistakes. There is this capacity / way of being that opens up the learning channels; it's empathy. This ability to experience another person's feelings, thoughts or attitudes, to identify fully with another so as to be able to say, "Me too!" is absolutely necessary for turning lemons into lemonade. When we're with someone who authentically knows and understands us, where we feel loved, accepted and even embraced, this gives us the freedom to receive new learning, especially difficult learning like from mistakes and other painful experiences. Empathy gives us the courage, security, and freedom to not be afraid to try and fail, to do things wrong and be able to sit with the error, process it, analyzing and evaluating it, to see how it might help and serve us to be and do better.

To foster the development of the growth mindset, mistakes and learning are essentials but even more important is the regular presence of healthy empathetic people, ie. relationships that feed our deepest needs for unconditional love and acceptance. This food is what shapes our sense of self. In other words, we become the culmination of our most precious relationships. It's said, we're the average of our 5 closest relationships. When our personal connections are robust with trust, forgiveness, safety, love, and vulnerability, we become free from anxiety, insecurity, and fear. Free to learn, experiment, fail, learn more, try again, persevere, muster up greater courage, and ultimately be who we really want to be, showing up as we really are.

Developing this foundation fundamental of self awareness is what grows empathy in us. It all starts with an environment of courage, transparency and humility. Check out my e-courseon this.

Creating a growth culture starts in our own minds. Where are we finding our value, love, and sense of belonging? What foundation are you building on? I hope it's categorically a self awareness that leads to empathy.

My desire is to consistently grow towards this way of being, free to learn from mistakes, growing in empathy, positively influencing those I love and cultivating a growth culture in my home and wherever I go.