“When I was drafted into the army in April 1984, I was a nineteen-year-old boy. The club where they took us was a distribution centre. Officers came there from various military units and picked out the soldiers they wanted. My fate was decided in one minute. A young officer came up to me and asked, “Do you want to serve in the commandos, the Blue Berets?” Of course I agreed. Two hours later I was on a plane to Uzbekistan (a Soviet republic in Central Asia), where our training base was located.
During the flight, I learned most of the soldiers from this base were sent to Afghanistan. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t surprised. At that point I didn’t care anymore because I understood that it is impossible to change anything. ‘To serve in the Soviet army is the honourable duty of Soviet citizens” –…
I love following Everyday Hero on LinkedIn and reading stories of amazing people – people like all of us. We all can be heroes: in our homes, our communities, and our lives… Lets share our stories to make this world a better place and give us all more reasons to smile and laugh… To get the ball rolling, I’m sharing one of mine…
Saving us all from the 3rd world war
This story happened almost twenty years ago when my three children were under the age of four. Me and my friend needed some papers with official stamps. So off to the Russian Embassy we went. We entered the waiting room and my heart sank. There was a huge crowd of people there and nothing to keep my wild little boys entertained. We joined the queue, my children started squealing. Here the door opened and the consul came out growling.
“Whose are those kids,” he asked looking at my friend.
“They are not mine… Mine are at home..” – she said
“At home…. With whom?”
‘With my husband of course’
‘How many of them?”
‘Three boys all aged under four’
“Alone, with your man…. How did you dare… No Russian man will ever survive there…”
“Don’t worry…. My man is German’, responded my friend.
“German!” shrieked the consul. He just could not comprehend. “That’s even worse! If he won’t survive, I’ll be blamed of course…. All Russia will be blamed for your kids under four. That will surely start the third world war! You go first,” – he said to my friend and took her in his office with all her papers to stamp.
My kids got much noisier from all the boredom. The consul came back and went straight towards them.
“So whose are these kids?”
“They are mine,” I said.
“You go next… Or I won’t survive them.”
A few minutes later with all the papers and stamps, we left the embassy with a sense of achievement and a huge relief that we saved the world from the 3rd world war grief.
“Understand: you are one of a kind. Your character traits are a kind of chemical mix that will never be repeated in history. There are ideas unique to you, a specific rhythm and perspective that are your strengths, not your weaknesses. You must not be afraid of your uniqueness and you must care less and less what people think of you.”
You know that saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” That saying has perpetuated a myth that the old dogs’ brain has hardened in ways that make him unable to learn anything new. For many decades the scientific community thought this to be true — of animals and people alike. But, as science has progressed, we’ve found that simply isn’t reality.
Modern neuroscience has proven that our brains are more malleable than we could have ever imagined—well into later stages of life. We can teach an old dog new tricks!
Still, many of us get down when we face the difficulties of learning new skills or mastering old ones. We blame the rapidly evolving technology environment, or job competition, or lagging energy levels for our failings. But we don’t need to. All we need to do is adopt a growth mindset and we can learn and grow as we please.
The Growth Mindset
The idea of a growth mindset came from the famous Stanford researcher, Carol Dweck. Dweck and her team stumbled upon the phenomenon when observing students and their various responses to failure. Why was it, they wondered, that some students could bounce back from a setback like nothing happened, while others sulked and fumed when obstacles fell in their way?
It wasn’t the magnitude of the setback, nor the consequences of the setbacks that determined the student’s responding behaviors—rather, it was their mindsets. Some students had a fixed mindset while others had a growth mindset. The ones with a fixed mindset believed that capabilities are innate and were sure that no matter how hard they tried, they wouldn’t be able to do anything about their failures. The growth mindset kids believed that they could eventually learn to do anything if they put in effort and practice.
How to Get Your Own Growth Mindset
If you don’t already have a growth mindset, there is good news– developing one isn’t too hard! The real struggle comes down to alleviating the shame and embarrassment we feel around failure and set-backs.
1. First, we should acknowledge our set-backs or unfavorable circumstances. We don’t want to call them failures, though. We want to call them learning opportunities. Marvel at the processes more than the results.
2. Now we want to acknowledge any shame that might accompany those learning opportunities. This is a key step because it alleviates lingering embarrassment.
3. Next, laugh it off! You can either laugh it off by yourself or with others. We recommend finding others who are non-judgmental and supportive who you can laugh with. This helps normalise laughing at your setbacks and helps give you perspective.
4. View your setback as an opportunity. At least, it’s a great story to tell! At most, it’s an opportunity to learn where you can improve.
5. Reflect. If your setback took place in a business setting, make sure to take note of it so you can avoid it in the future!
6. Lastly, and most importantly, stay curious. Never lose your sense of wonder for the world. Never stop wanting to know more…
Whenever you encounter a new challenge, respond to your fixed mindset thoughts with growth mindset and take the growth mindset action!
“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.”
The following question was posed to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, ‘What does love mean?’ Check out a few loving answers below.
‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore… So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’ Rebecca – age 8
‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’ Billy – age 4
‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’ Karl – age 5
‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’ Chrissy – age 6
‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’ Terri – age 4
‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’ Danny – age 8
‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.’ Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)
‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.’ Nikka – age 6(we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet)
‘Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.’ Noelle – age 7
‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’ Tommy – age 6
‘During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.’ Cindy – age 8
‘My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.’ Clare – age 6′
Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’ Elaine – age 5
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’ Chris – age 7
‘Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’ Mary Ann – age 4
‘I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.’ Lauren – age 4
‘When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.’ (what an image!) Karen – age 7
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross…’ Mark – age 6
‘You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.’ Jessica – age 8
And the final one: The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.’
Every time my teenage kids make me roll my eyes in despair I think about my wonderful dad and all the times I made him roll his eyes and scratch his head. His dad’s logic just could not comprehend the power of teenage imagination…
Like that time when me and one of my University friend spent all the money we had to go to the local Ballet Theatre to watch ‘Swan Lake’. Next day dad visited me and took me to the fridge.
“So, what are you going to eat for the rest of the month, darling? Feathers of those imaginary swans?” he said staring into the empty fridge.
His engineering logic just could not comprehend how his only precious one could spend the whole monthly pay from Uni on ‘Swan Lake’. I just giggled and reassured him that he had absolutely nothing to worry about. After all I did not spend it on boys and vodka….
At that point not only his eyes rolled, but his jaw dropped too… He never ever mentioned the empty fridge again… In fact magically that fridge has never ever been empty again… Coincidentally a magic fairy took care of it since that day, regularly filling it up with all the essentials…
My friend’s dad, who was a doctor, tried to approach the same subject from the medical perspective first, hinting on a very poor nutritional value of the imaginary swans and feathers. My friend just giggled. In despair, her dad changed to the historical perspective: “Now I see why in so many cultures fathers were supposed to provide dowry for their daughters at the marriage. Otherwise one would need to be utterly insane to take my precious darling with all these imaginary swans and feathers!”
His historical perspective only tripled the giggles. “Don’t worry dad. I already found my utterly insane one,” my friend burst into laughter.
Next day we met with other friends at Uni and had a good giggle about swans, feathers and all. After all, behind every smiling girl at Uni was a wonderful Fairy Dad Father rolling his eyes and scratching his head…