Mindset, Part 2

One of my favorite beliefs of the gospel is the idea of the gifts of the Spirit. In Moroni 10, the gifts of the Spirit are listed, and then Moroni says:

 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will. (verse 17)

So, everyone pretty much gets their gifts. Christ gives them to us, and we can have many gifts, or not very many, but everyone can have at least one. D&C 46 reads: 

For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. (verses 11 & 12)

But where it really gets interesting and pertains to Mindset is here, in verses 8 and 9 of D&C 46:

…and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me…

Not only is the Lord willing to give us all at least one gift, but He also commands us to pray for and seek more gifts, so that we may have more opportunities to benefit those around us. This is truly possible. And it is quite spectacular that we can have so many gifts if we just ask for them. 

In Mindset we read:

Some people simply pick up these skills in the natural course of their lives, whereas others have to work to learn them and put them together. But as we can see from the “after” self-portraits, everyone can do it. 

Here’s what this means: Just becasue some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training. This is so important, because many, many people with the fixed mindset think that someone’s early performance tells you all you need to know about their talent and their future. (70, emphasis in original)

Sounds an awful lot like gifts of the Spirit to me. It doesn’t matter what we are born with. We can develop those things that we need to have if we seek the Lord and ask for the gifts. I love that the gospel teaches us naturally to become growth-minded individuals. 

Crucial Conversations [Book]

Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition , by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switler is a book that is widely considered a must-read for anyone in a  position where they might disagree with someone. It walks you through how to have a successful crucial conversation, which is defined as:

A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong. (3)

There are many instances in the scriptures where crucial conversations happen. Patterson suggests that the best way to deal with these crucial conversations is to:

Prepare for high-stakes situations with a proven technique
Transform Anger and hurt feelings into powerful emotions
Make it safe to talk about almost anything
Be persuasive, not abrasive

One thing I really like about Crucial Conversations is that it never says you need to just be nice and worry about hurting other peoples’ feelings. The whole point is to be honest and totally open, even if that honesty is hard to hear. The important thing is that the dialogue happens, and happens continually. Dialogue is the “free flow of meaning between two people” (20).

In the Book of Mormon, Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom have a crucial conversation. It starts by Alma preaching to Zeezrom, then Amulek gives it a shot. Zeezrom says that he will give Amulek money if he denies the Christ. Amulek refuses, then calls Zeezrom on his foul ideas.

This qualifies as a crucial conversations for the following reasons:

  1. Stakes were high because Zeezrom had the potential to destroy a lot of work that Alma and Amulek had been doing.
  2. Alma and Amulek were devoted to preaching the gospel, and Zeezrom was devoted to derailing their teachings, so opinions varied greatly.
  3. Emotions were running strong. Amulek snapped at Zeezrom after Zeezrom tried to give him money to get him to deny his testimony, “O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me?” (Alma 11:23)

In Crucial Conversations, the authors state that the best place to start with crucial conversations is with heart: “Skilled people Start with Heart. That is, they begin high-risk discussions with the right motives, and they stay focused no matter what happens” (30). Alma and Amulek were there to preach the gospel. They had no intention of forcing anyone to change their mind or forcing anyone to do anything they didn’t want to. That is not how the gospel of Christ operates. But, they did stay focused on sharing their testimonies and trying to help all come unto Christ.

In the end, Zeezrom was silenced by the power of their testimony of Jesus. He was wracked with guilt, and was near death when Alma and Amulek saw him again. He gave in to the concensus method of decision making (which is really the only method that can be allowed in salvation-related crucial conversations). Zeezrom “honestly agreed to one decision” (166), the decision to believe in Christ. When he made this decision, he was saved from death.

What other crucial conversations happened in the scriptures?

Amulek, Alma, and Zeezrom

QBQ! By John Miller

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life may win the award for having a title that takes longer to read than the book itself. This is a quick read, and a good one. There are so many parallels to the gospel that it is hard to find where to begin and what to highlight. Miller even invites you to read the book again when you are done (a good strategy).

This book is about personal accountability. Miller invites the reader to not just whine and complain when things don’t go the way she wants, but rather asks the reader to ask a couple more questions. “What can I do?” becomes the clarion call of the QBQ thinker.

There are two ways I want to illustrate how we learned this simple account of personal accountability.

First, the hymn, Have I Done Any Good (Music), is the exemplification of Personal Accountability and QBQ!

Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.

QBQ! is about finding ways to be the solution to the problem, not another complainer. This hymn is great because it reminds us to go out of our way to solve problems and help others. One of the great stories Miller shares is of a server in a busy diner that saw that Miller didn’t have anyone helping him yet. When Miller asked for a Coke, the server mentioned that they only served Pepsi products, so Miller asked for water instead. Much to his surprise, a couple minutes later, the server returned with Miller’s food and an ice-cold Coke. When Miller inquired of the server where it had come from, he learned that the server had sent his manager next door to the grocery store to buy one so Miller could have what he wanted (needed). Personal accountabilty is about “making better choices” (14) like the server did to get what someone needed.

Second, there is the story of Nephi. Miller relates a story about a girl and her father flying in a small airplane when the engine stopped. The pilot (the father) told his daughter he would have to fly a little differently than usual. He put the plane into a nose dive right over Lake Michigan and tried to get the engine to start again. When that didn’t work, he tried again, still over frigid Lake Michigan, and a few hundred feet closer. This time, it worked. Miller says:

When faced with a new situation, [the father] took action and solved the problem. But if he had resisted the change and instead spent his time whining and complaining…things might have come out much differently. (30)

Like the father in this story, Nephi, the Book of Mormon prophet, saw a problem and he fixed it. When the bows of his older brothers had lost their spring, and Nephi’s bow broke, everyone else immediately started complaining. Nephi had personal accountability and asked himself, “What can I do?” Then he did something-which is essential for a QBQ thinker-he made a bow, and asked his father where the Lord would have him go to find food. 1 Nephi 16:23:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did amake out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Nephi gave the most excellent example of a QBQ thinker throughout his life, but this is one time where he  did what truly needed to be done. He didn’t blame others for their weak bows, nor did he blame his father for dragging him out into the wilderness. He saw a problem, and dealt with it, the best way that he could, by finding personal accountability and taking action. Nephi didn’t just solve the problem, he also didn’t even blame anyone. “Who do accountable people blame? No one. Not even themselves” (49).

Why Learning Leads to Happiness [article]

From the US News and World Report: “Why Learning Leads to Happiness” by Philip Moeller

Mr. Moeller knocks it right out of the park in the first sentence, “Your mind may be the closest thing to the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness.” In Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19 we read: 

18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

So, we get that learning, or adding to our knowledge and intelligence really is the Holy Grail. The thing that keeps us going long past the time that we should die. 

In his article, Moeller quotes psychologist Laura Carstensen who says that education is the single most important factor in increasing the length of our life. There are a lot of socio-economic benenfits, like getting a better-paying and safer job, as well as living in a better neighborhood, with less crime, etc. But there are also many non-socio-economic benefits.

For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light… D&C 88:40

So, the Doctrine and Covenants teach us that as we gain knowledge, we seek out and gain more knowledge, wisdom, truth, virtue and light. These are all great to have, but if learning really does lead to happiness, we must be very happy if we have knowledge, wisdom, truth, virtue and light. Cartensen acknowledges that more education leads to better problem-solving skills, and helps people have the tools needed to overcome disease and prevent illness much more than those with less education.

My primary teachers taught me that being engaged in a good cause (D&C 58:27) would help me be happy, too. Thirty years ago, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” which means that a person can get so caught up in a task that he or she loses hours and focuses solely on that task. When we are anxiously engaged in a good cause, we can lose ourselves as well. From Matthew 16:25 we learn that flow can relate to serving the God as well: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Losing our lives in service to God will help us find the life that we really want. 

It is easy to understand that learning leads to happiness, because that is one of the major points of our existence on this earth: to gain a body and learn. 

Mindset, By Carol S. Dweck, Part I [book]

The first book I’ll be reading is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (affiliate link) by Carol S. Dweck. Here is some background about her:

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster success. She has held professorships at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Federation. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20.

Dr. Dweck is a very accomplished researcher and professor. But her eloquence, research, and effort reminded me a lot of what the volunteer teachers in primary taught me as a child.

The book Mindset is actually about just two mindsets: fixed and growth. The fixed mindset means basically that one believes talent and intelligence are static: we are all born with X amount of each, and that is all we get. The growth mindset is the opposite: we are born with X amount of talent or intelligence, but we can always increase that through hard work and practice. You can learn more about it at the book’s website: mindsetonline.com. And before you read the book, take the test to see what mindset you have, because once you start reading, you’ll be able to identify it really quickly.

One of the key tenants of the Mormon faith is that we can become like God. We do that by learning a little bit every day, until we become perfect.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. 2 Nephi 28:30

The premise of Mindset is that if we are willing to constantly learn, we can get better at anything. The last line of that scripture is particularly interesting as it relates to Mindset “From them [that say they have a fixed mindset] shall be taken away even that which they have”. This comes in to play later in the book when Dweck starts talking about people who had potential, but lost it because they had a fixed mindset.

In the first couple chapters, Dweck lays out how the mindsets look in children, and what those children do with their mindsets.

We offered four-year-olds a choice: They could redo an easy jigsaw puzzle or they could try a harder one. Even at this tender age, children with the fixed mindset…stuck with the safe one…[while] children with the growth mindset…thought it was a strange choice [to repeat an easy puzzle]. “I’m dying to figure them out!” exclaimed one little girl.

It is fascinating how early the mindsets start with children. I am grateful that I have always believed that I could become great. Not that I already started out great, and was stuck on that. I have been taught my whole life that I can become something amazing if I continue to learn and grow.