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Mindsets that Matter: Curiosity, Choice, and Courage

This morning I delivered an online zoom training for the Alameda County Office of Education. I was a nervous wreck last night and this morning. My stomach was in knots and my mind was ruminating on all the “what ifs.” “What if the zoom doesn’t work, what if I blow it, what if they don’t like what I offer?” Or, worse yet, “what if they don’t like me?” Even though I’ve been a professional trainer for years, and I love doing it, I often get nervous before training. I have to deal with what I call my “small self.” My small self is negative thinking, pure and simple. It comes from early emotional trauma when, as a child, I was slammed by my dad and too often I doubted my basic goodness. Am I enough?

So, how did I handle this? How did I give myself that spark of energy that gets me excited about my training? How did I access my “whole Self,” that part of me that is confident, competent, and eager to help people learn? So much is written about how a Growth Mindset helps us be eager to learn, adaptive, find value in embracing challenges, and believe that we can improve our skills through effort. I usually have this Growth Mindset. But not when I am in my “small self.”  So, what mindsets helped me be more resilient when I was feeling “not enough”? 

One sure way to gain resilience is to use my Curiosity mindset. Curiosity engages my wonder. In this case, I started imagining, “Who’s going to be there and how cool will it be to work with this group?” I wondered about their backgrounds, their early life traumas, their needs, and the pressures and stress they have to deal with every day. The next thing I did was consider an empowering Choice. What are my options?

I love making the choice of anchoring myself in a resilience skill.


A go-to skill for me is pausing and using the Centering Skill of Breathing Mindfully. I pause, close my eyes, breathe consciously, and drop into a meditative state for three minutes. I’ve been meditating most of my adult life and 3-minutes can totally rebalance me. Breathing Mindfully is an anchor to my whole Self. Next, I thought about why I love to train and I got in touch with my courage. Courage comes from the root word, cor, which means heart. I think of courage as following my heart. It’s all about standing by my values. What kind of person do I want to be? Do I want to be in my small self? No, of course not. Do I want to walk into this training with the wind at my back and the sun on my face? Yes! My Courage Mindset shifted everything. I grew a little taller, breathed easier, and was able to delight in the flow of moment-to-moment engagement with my training participants. I loved it!

When I’m unsure of myself, engaging my Curiosity, Choice, and Courage Mindsets matters. Each Mindset can transform how I experience myself and show up in my day.

Which of these Mindsets would be useful to you? If you want to learn more, you can register for my webinar: Beyond the Growth Mindset

Chuck and the Dovetail Learning team

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