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Choose a Growth Mindset

"Choose a Growth Mindset" - Devin Durrant

Aloha! It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be in your presence this beautiful morning.I love the word aloha. What a love-filled word, synonymous with so much that's good. It’s difficult to come up with another word that conveys so much goodness. Maybe the word love would be the right companion for the word aloha.I enjoy studying words and witnessing their power to persuade men and women to do good.I am reminded of this verse in the Book of Mormon about the powerful effect of the word of God.“Now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5; emphasis added).Today, let’s take time to reflect on the power of words and the word of God in each of our lives.Friend and NeighborThink of other two word pairs, like aloha and love, that might fit together nicely. How about the words friend and neighbor?Let’s take 15 seconds right now for you to smile and greet your neighbor on your right and on your left. Go ahead now.Thank you.Jesus Christ invites us to love our neighbors. It’s easier to do so when we know them.He said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31).Our lives are enriched by those with whom we associate. That has certainly been my experience with your president, John Tanner, and his dear wife, Susan, both of whom have blessed our lives. My wife, Julie, and I are better people because of our relationship with the Tanners.I had the privilege of serving with President Tanner in the Sunday School General Presidency. He and Susan taught us much by example—how to be better friends, how to be better grandparents, and how to teach and learn more effectively.This scripture reminds me of President Tanner:It states: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). I can hear President Tanner’s words in my head as he says, “As teachers, let us not just inform our learners; let us transform them.” May a measure of transformation happen today during this devotional. I exhort you to learn all you can from John and Susan Tanner—two Christlike people that I love.I also invite you to make a daily effort to expand your circle of friends. Get to know others and learn from them and grow with them. Yes, you need to be focused on your studies while you're here, but please take time to make a healthy handful of new friends along your way.I love it when the Savior refers to His followers as His “friends” (see, for example, D&C 88:3, 62, 117). May we each strive to be a better friend to Him.You may have heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.” Maybe it could be said a bit differently. How about, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that gives your life meaning.” Get to know more good people and benefit from the association. Your future spouse, business partner, employer, or Relief Society president may be in the seat in front of you in your next class.Let me give you a brief personal example of this. One of my closest friends is a man named Pete Peterson. While I was in my 20s, he offered me a job. As my employer, he invited me to play tennis one day. We played tennis together several times and became close friends. Later, we were business partners for four years. His friendship and influence on my life have been significant. Now, almost 30 years later, we enjoy getting together and discussing common interests—mostly related to ideas that could be used to teach Gospel Doctrine classes. That one friendship has influenced my life in a number of positive ways.Mother and FatherPossibly my two favorite words in the English language are mother and father. Those words encompass so much depth of meaning. What an amazing God-given power it is to be able to give life to another human and to become his or her mother or father! How precious a gift is the gift of families. As you know, "the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (The Family, A Proclamation To The World). Julie and I are the mother and father to six children.Grandma and GrandpaAs mothers and fathers, you also put yourself in a position to hear two more beautiful words. Those words are grandma and grandpa. Oh, how sweet is the sound of those two words!Today, I’d like to introduce you to someone who calls me “Grandpa.” His name is Rockwell Devin Bennett. [SLIDE 4] There he is!With that middle name and cute face, you can imagine why he might be extra special to me. His siblings and parents call him “Rockwell,” but I like to call him “Rock Devin.”Teacher and LearnerWhen Rock Devin was six years old, he took me aside to talk. He was my teacher, and I was his learner. He proceeded to teach me a valuable lesson. I share his lesson with each of you today. It focuses on another word pair—fixed and growth.The lesson he taught me came from his schoolteacher, Miss Bothaina, and Rock Devin was passing it along to me. Miss Bothaina had likely read the book Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck[JG1] .Rock Devin began his teaching by asking me a question: “Grandpa, do you know the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset?”I told him I did not know the difference. I then invited him to share with me the answer. He did so in a clear and fun way. I could tell you what he said and how he said it, but why don’t we get an unscripted explanation of the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset directly from my six-year-old grandson.Here is Rock Devin.As Rock Devin taught me, I learned that those with fixed mindsets not only say, “It’s way too hard” or “I give up,” but they might also say, “I can’t learn that,” or “I don’t want to learn more,” or “I can’t change.” On the other hand, those with growth mindsets embrace new learning opportunities and say to themselves, “I’m going to keep working at this.” “I can’t give up.” “I am capable of change.” My interpretation of my grandson’s instruction is people with growth mindsets are striving to learn and grow each day.QUESTIONSThat you are here at BYU–Hawaii is a sign to me that you value a growth mindset. However, there still might be something in your life that you feel you can’t do or can’t learn to do. It can be easy, at times, to slip back into a fixed mindset.How would you respond if I asked you, “What is it in your life that you think you CAN’T do?”Is it passing a tough class? Forgiving someone who has hurt you? Repenting of sin? Being more patient? Serving a full-time mission? Or is it simply accepting a difficult calling?Is there something holding you back in life because you have decided you CAN’T change in one way or another?Would you please ponder those questions as we visit today?In truth, I believe you can do it and you likely can change it. With a growth mindset, previously undoables can become doables and unchangeables can become changeables.Consider these additional questions:With a growth mindset, what can I learn today? And how can my learning help me overcome hurdles in my life?You are in an ideal and idyllic learning environment here at BYU–Hawaii. You have opportunities to learn from classmates, teachers, Church leaders, administrators, and President John and Sister Susan Tanner. Embrace each chance to learn and grow.Growth and FixedWith this idea of growth and fixed mindsets on the table, who comes to mind for you as an example of a person with a growth mindset? Or a fixed mindset? The scriptures provide us with examples of both.NEPHI AND LAMAN AND LEMUELLet’s start in the Book of Mormon. Who didn’t murmur and said confidently, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded”? (1 Nephi 3:7). And who murmured and asked this doubting question, “How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands?” (1 Nephi 3:31). Nephi’s growth mindset is clearly in contrast with the fixed mindsets of Laman and Lemuel.ENOCHFrom the Pearl of Great Price, we learn about a young man named, Enoch, a future prophet, who felt limited by personal frailties. I'm confident other prophets must have experienced similar feelings in their lives. Listen to the words of Enoch when the Lord called him. He asked, “Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant (Moses 6:31)?"This once-hesitant and self-conscious young lad was later translated along with a people who occupied a city named after their great leader (see Moses 7:23).ABINIDI AND ALMA1Back to the Book of Mormon. Let’s take a minute and consider the multitudes who are blessed because a young priest in King Noah’s court was humble and possessed a growth mindset. But why was he the only one of Noah’s priests to recognize the truth of Abinadi’s words? Here's the story:“There was one among them whose name was Alma .... he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken, for he knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified against them; therefore he began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi, but suffer that he might depart in peace. “But the king was more wroth, and caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him. “But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken” (Mosiah 17:2–4).Later, we read this:“Alma, who had fled from the servants of king Noah, repented of his sins and iniquities, and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi” (Mosiah 18:1).And you know the rest of that story.One clear trait of a growth mindset is a willingness to repent, as seen in Alma. He softened his heart and changed his course. AMULEK AND ALMA2Speaking of repentance and change, I'm reminded of the story of Alma2 and his companion, Amulek. Amulek meets Alma2 and says:“I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house” (Alma 8:20).But what was going on previously in Amulek’s life? He was in a good place. He had every reason not to make any changes—to be fixed in his ways.We learn in Alma chapter 10 that Amulek was a man of no small reputation. He had a supportive family and many friends. And he had acquired riches. But I believe he knew something was missing. He tells us he had seen much of the mysteries of the Lord and His marvelous power (see verse 5), but he confesses he hardened his heart and went on rebelling against God (see verse 6). And then the angel visited him. Amulek had to make a decision: stay fixed in his path or obey the angel. We know the course he chose.Amulek and Alma then became a great missionary companionship. They were powerful teachers of God’s word.Let’s shift gears for a moment and consider the benefits of a growth mindset in a few other contexts.THE TOSHIBA LAPTOPBy a show of hands, how many of you own a laptop computer? They’re everywhere. Let’s take a quick look back in time to when laptops had their beginning. Who had the growth mindset in the following story from the book Diffusion of Innovations?In 1986, Toshiba Corporation, a Japanese electronics company, manufactured the first laptop computer. Toshiba was dragged into developing this important innovation against its top executives’ wishes. Twice, corporate headquarters vetoed the laptop project, which succeeded thanks to the persistence of an ingenious champion, Tetsuya Mizoguchi.Mizoguchi had traveled frequently to the United States, and in 1983 while visiting the U.S. with an R&D team, he envisioned a portable personal computer.Convincing the corporate leaders at Toshiba that Mizoguchi’s vision for a laptop computer made sense turned out to be extremely difficult. The company had just failed in the personal computer marketplace, taking huge losses. Corporate leaders had decided to get out of the computer business. They denied Mizoguchi’s request for development funds and refused him any experienced engineers for a laptop R&D team. Mizoguchi didn't get discouraged. With some diverted funds, Mizoguchi’s put together a group that created a laptop prototype in 24 months.Finally in 1985, Mizoguchi triumphantly presented his laptop at Toshiba headquarters. To his disappointment, corporate executives argued that the new product was just a fad that would fill a small market niche. He was ordered not to sell the laptop in Japan. Fortunately, Mizoguchi then found an ally in the Senior Vice President of Toshiba Europe by the name of Atsutoshi Nishida. He was enthusiastic about the new product. Early sales boomed in Europe. Mizoguchi then turned to the United States. By 1988, Toshiba commanded a 38 percent market share for laptops in Europe and a 21 percent share in the U.S. A year later, the Toshiba laptop commanded a 46 percent market share in Japan.After the laptop’s success in the marketplace, Mizoguchi was rewarded by Toshiba and became a company hero. (Adapted from Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 5th ed. [2003], 144–46).MY LAPTOPThis story about Toshiba resonates with me because I was loaned a Toshiba laptop in 1988. At the time, I was playing professional basketball in Europe. During the summer prior to traveling to France to play, I was approached by a group of men in a restaurant. They offered me a job as a salesman for WordPerfect Corporation. I was flattered by their offer but quickly told them I was in the middle of a basketball career. I also added that I knew nothing about computers and therefore would not be much of a salesman with my lack of experience. I was showing signs of a fixed mindset.They then told me they could teach me how to use a computer with their software on it. I liked that idea but let them know I would soon be leaving the country to play basketball. It was at that point they asked if I would be interested in taking a Toshiba laptop with me so I could get more comfortable with this new technology and software. I accepted their generous offer.Once settled in France, I turned on my new laptop. I couldn’t have had a more miserable beginning. I couldn’t get the computer to do anything. It was the ancient days of the DOS prompt. Along with the laptop, I was given a DOS manual. After an hour or two of trying to figure out how to use my laptop, with frustration mounting, I closed it up for good.My time playing basketball in Europe soon ended, and a few weeks later I was employed at WordPerfect. I started my job with the assistance of a skilled trainer. This person helped eliminate the frustration I had felt in France. He started to open a new world to me—the world of computers and software. Now it’s hard to imagine life without computing power. It helps as we strive to move from one mindset to another to have someone at our side to guide us for a time.MISSION MEDICALAs I mentioned earlier, it also helps when we get a loving nudge along the way. My wife, Julie, is blessed with a growth mindset. However, this doesn’t mean that learning for her, or anyone else, will always be pleasant or easy.When we were called as a mission president couple, we were told that Julie could be the first point of contact for our missionaries with medical issues OR we could find a member with a medical background to fill that role.Julie doesn't do well at the sight of blood. She has a hard time simply walking down the hallway of a hospital without feeling faint. The thought of taking the role of mission nurse had zero appeal for her. But I thought it would be a great way for her to serve the missionaries and get to know them better. I hesitatingly suggested she try it for three months, and if it didn’t work, we could find a member. She was not happy with my suggestion, but she agreed to give it a try. At the three-month mark, she decided to keep her mission nurse hat on. With the help of an area medical adviser, my wife provided a wonderful service to the 650+ missionaries who served with us in the Texas Dallas Mission. She learned so much and loved so much as she counseled many sick and sore missionaries for three years.She applied this familiar verse of scripture: “... I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).As a side note, after our missionary service, I received a call from our 30-year-old daughter, Laura. She was experiencing a strong pain in her abdomen. I handed the phone to my wife. She asked Laura a few questions and had her do a pain test she learned in the mission field. She then diagnosed her over the phone as suffering from appendicitis and advised her to go immediately to the emergency room. Our daughter had her appendix removed later that night.You never know what blessing might come from having a growth mindset.My wife could have easily said to me, “I can’t do that. I have enough already.” But she didn’t.WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH!Do you remember in scripture the counsel given by the Lord to those who felt they had enough of His word? He said:"... 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 ... 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 28:29–30; emphasis added).May we earnestly seek more from God and never fall into the trap of arrogance and say, “We have enough.”Sometimes it's tempting to tell others who want to help us become better to mind their own business. Let me give you an example. As I do, think of a time in your life when someone corrected you with the intent to help you grow. How did you respond to that person?CHARLES BARKLEY LISTENEDBefore my days at WordPerfect, I had the opportunity to play on a basketball team with Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. We were teammates on the United States team that competed in the 1983 University Games held in Vancouver, Canada. When we played together, I witnessed Barkley’s skills as a basketball player firsthand. Today, he is well-known for his unapologetic banter. I, however, remember Barkley fondly for a time he did not say a word.During a particular exhibition game, Barkley made a rare mistake. The coach pulled him out, and Barkley sat near me on the bench. Stomping over, the coach did not hold back as he yelled at Barkley for the mistake. He then continued to yell some more at Barkley. Charles took it all and didn't say a word. And, later, when the coach put him back in the game, he made the necessary adjustments and played well. That’s the value of humility, of being coachable.I was impressed with how well he responded to the criticism. When someone chastises us, we have the opportunity to choose our response and be teachable or not. We can take it, learn from it, make the needed changes, and hopefully avoid similar conversations with the coach in the future.How do you respond to criticism or chastening? From a teacher, a Church leader, a friend, or a spouse? Is he or she offering you a chance to grow?Let me tell you another story on this theme. This time, I am the basketball player chastened by the coach.THE FANCY PASSWhen I was a freshman playing for BYU, Coach Frank Arnold did not like behind-the-back passes or any kind of fancy pass and he told us so. He taught sound fundamental basketball. I remember vividly the time when I caught the ball on a fast break and a defender caused me to stop and turn my back to the basket. As my teammates came running down the floor, no one in the first wave was open.Then I noticed our center, Alan Taylor, who was trailing the play. I was at the foul line extended, and Alan ran down the opposite side of the lane and was headed unguarded directly to our basket. So with my back to our basket, I threw the ball behind my head, trying to hit Alan for an easy dunk. The only problem with my plan was that as I released the ball toward Alan, the guy guarding me deflected it to one of his teammates, who took off with the ball the other way. Shortly thereafter, Coach Arnold took me out of the game. When I walked off the court, he let me know, in no uncertain terms, that that was the last fancy pass I would ever throw behind my head.Sitting on the bench, I had to make a decision. I could shout back at my coach. I could pout and say to myself, “He is wrong.” I could go back in the game and ignore his instructions. OR I could follow the coach’s direction and eliminate the behind-the-head pass from my game. I liked playing. I hated sitting on the bench. So I didn’t want to do anything to alienate my coach. That was the last behind-the-head pass that I remember throwing in my college or professional career.Here are the Lord’s words regarding correction or chastening:“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:5–6).Don’t let your fixed mindset and an unwillingness to be corrected eliminate opportunities for growth and learning and joy.PARABLE OF THE TALENTSConsider how Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, encouraged the practice of a growth mindset. Let’s briefly review the Parable of the Talents, which He shared with His disciples to help them see the importance of continually growing.In this parable, talents are given out to three people. Let’s read:“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability....“Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.“And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.“But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.”So, of the three people, it’s clear who had a growth mindset and who did not. How did the Lord praise each of the first two? He said:“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:14–18, 23).In contrast, the unprofitable servant was cast into outer darkness in the parable (see Matthew 25:30). Christ closes the parable with this strong and clear message to all people:“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Matthew 25:29).PRESIDENT NELSONIt is not uncommon for people to tell themselves, “I can’t change. That’s just the way I am.” President Russell M. Nelson, our beloved prophet, said this: “We can change our behavior. Our very desires can change. How? There is only one way. True change—permanent change—can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you—each of you! He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change!”(“Decisions for Eternity,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 108). And may I add what President Nelson also said just two weeks ago at his opening press conference that extends the thought of change through learning. He said, "A well educated person never stops learning."OVERCOME FEAR AND DOUBTLet me ask, is fear a factor in overcoming your personal hurdles? A fixed mindset can be caused by fear and fear can stop us in our tracks.God offers a solution in the Doctrine and Covenants. He says, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36).That may be easier said than done, but with faith in God, you can do what you currently think you can’t. Ask for God’s help and then trust Him.I love the poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908 and originally entitled “God Knows”. It invites each of us to put our hand into the hand of God when we might be feeling fearful and the path ahead is not visible. It reads like this:And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”And he replied:“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”That poem leads my thoughts to a Book of Mormon scripture with a similar feel. It asks, “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power .... ” (Mormon 5:23)?When you feel overmatched, please remember that God can open all doors and help us climb the highest peaks.I don’t know what challenges you are facing at present or what obstacles you may have to overcome in the future, but I invite you to see life as a series of growth opportunities that God gives you to help prepare you to return to Him (see also Alma 34:32).THE LEGO MISTAKELet me share one last quick story about young Rock Devin.After Rock had taught me so well about growth and fixed, he gave me an example of how he applied his teachings in his own life. He brought over a yellow Lego car to show me. He is holding that model car in the photo.He told me how he had made a mistake while building this car. When he got to the end of the project, he realized he misplaced a piece during the construction. He thought, “I can’t go back now and fix it.” He knew it would take time and effort and a rereading of the instructions. But, with a sparkle in his eye, he told me he shifted his thinking to a growth mindset. He took the car apart to access the mistake he had made, made the correction, and rebuilt the car.In the end, it was as if he had not made a mistake in the first place. And you can see the beautiful end product in the photo.Will you think about the experience I just shared with you when you have some quiet time? It sounds to me a bit like the repentance process.CONCLUSIONYou can never be sure who might be your next teacher. It may be a six-year-old.Regardless of the age of the teacher—6 or 96—be ready and willing to learn. We have this promise from the Lord regarding learning:“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. 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” (D&C 130:18–19).May we all embrace the word of God and the beautiful words in our lives in our various native languages.Words like:Aloha and loveMother and fatherTeacher and learnerand use them to inspire us to humbly and continually grow as we “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.