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Heidi Grant Halvorson talks about the difference between a Be Good vs Get Better mindset. It’s relevant to anyone who is trying to learn a new skills

When you’re constantly thinking, ‘this is a test of my ability, this is a test of my competence and my worth,’ then it’s extremely stressful. We know from decades of research that this kind of thinking really sets people up for failure. It makes them vulnerable as soon as things get difficult, and life is full of difficult things. People with this mindset are more depressed, they’re more anxious, they’re more likely to to be helpless in the face of a setback.

When they feel depressed, they do things like sit on the couch and eat chips and watch television, and don’t take any action to improve anything because they believe they can’t. That there’s something wrong with them and that’s why things aren’t going well in their lives. If you’ve ever gotten really upset with yourself because something went wrong in a project you were working on, then you were probably thinking this way - that somehow you screwed up, you lack something, you don’t have what it takes.

There is an alternative. Instead of focusing on proving, you focus on improving. When you use this framework to think about everything you do, a really dramatic shift happens. Instead of demonstrating our skills, we focus on developing them. Instead of thinking about your performance relative to other people, people with a Get Better mindset say, “am I performing better than I did in the past?”

She goes on to give results from a study on how this might play out in real life. Get Better people tend to persist and this tends to lead to better performance. They also tend to take action when things are going poorly - “because they thought the point was to improve, they found a way to improve.”

The one-line take away is always compare yourself to yourself, not to other people.

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