Holiday Closure: All Easton Schools Closed Dec.14 & morning classes cancelled Dec.15

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October 7, 2022

The Mindset Problem

Nick Mavrick

The Mindset Problem

We are reading and learning.

That is principle number 1 among the Easton tenets. You can find them listed on those beautiful glossy cards that we give to new staff. One side is our Easton Core Values, and the other side is our Principles.

Reading and Learning. I feel so blessed to work for a group that has so much invested in the personal improvement of its members. I have grown so much as a result of the stewardship (#4 on the list) of so many of my mentors, friends, and confidantes in the Easton organization.

As an organization, we have compiled an amazing reading list, the entries upon which could benefit anyone-Easton employee or not.

One of those books that really impacted me—maybe the most impactful—is “Mindset,” by Carol S. Dweck. I could see so much of myself in that book (and not necessarily in a positive way).

Things came so easy to me as a kid that when it came time to level up at anything: sports, music, math…literally anything—I would clam up for fear of being seen struggling. I would just move on to a new activity so that people could marvel at how easily that new thing came to me.

The work seldom appealed to me. Failure was something that I couldn’t stomach and the difficulty of dealing with the emotions attached thereto was insurmountable. I was perpetually stuck in what Carol S. Dweck dubbed fixed mindset.

Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset

Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset means exactly what it sounds like.

Am I willing to fail? Am I willing to be uncomfortable? Am I willing to start from the bottom and work my way up even if people can see me not excel? Am I willing to do what needs to be done in order to grow?

There is a saying: hard times make hard men; hard men make easy times; easy times make soft men; soft men make hard times….repeat.

I am thinking about this today because I have 2 daughters. Both are brilliant (as all parents are wont to say). I love them equally. The older is very eager to succeed and to please. She is willing to work and to fail and to cry in front of her peers. She is willing to fail.

She is a successful competitor, too. I had occasion to watch her very first competition match recently. She was 8 or 9 years old. She lost. She cried. I remember that day so clearly. She was my hero because she came off the mat with tears in her eyes and asked: “How soon can we do this again?”

The failure was already behind her and she was ready to try again. She came right out of the package with a growth mindset.

My younger daughter is an absolute wealth of talent. She is good at things right away: an intellectual powerhouse. She reads at a level 6 grades above her actual age. She goes up 2 grades every day for math classes. She is also a successful competitor. She even has taught some private lessons to Little Tigers who love her attention. But because things have come so easily to her thus far, I fear that I am seeing a fixed mindset in her.

Fixed mindset can really hold us back; I sometimes feel like I am 10 years behind in my personal development because of it. I worry that my kids have had it too easy—perhaps all of our kids have. Soft times make soft men….and women….

This is why I am so glad that my kids have Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

We all, as parents, want to give our children a better childhood than the ones that we had. We want them to remember us fondly when we are gone. We want them to always be that little toddler that could crawl into our laps and fall asleep, snoring quietly in our arms.

But we often do this at the expense of real resiliency to failure; the ability to do the hard thing even though it likely means pain, humiliation and failure. We do it sometimes at the expense of self-awareness and the ability to look within themselves and not like something that they see there.

Jiu jitsu gives them some semblance of this. My daughters—middle-middle class by American standards, upper 1% by the standards of the world—are so privileged. They are unlikely to go hungry. Education and sanitation are a foregone conclusion. They are certainly not at imminent risk of domestic war, being eaten by tigers, or contracting a parasite.

Easy times…

I have given them a pastime that puts them daily into difficult and physically uncomfortable situations. They must problem solve or face physical and emotional consequences. They must look at themselves in the mirror some days and say “I was not good at this today.” They crumble occasionally. They melt down. They say, “I can’t.”

Then, you know what they say?

They say, “screw all that. Yes I can!” And they do!


Sometimes they don’t. And then they get to learn that that’s ok, too.

Giving kids something that artificially approximates danger and duress is good for them! It is important for their mindset. It is vital for growth.

I cannot give my kids hard times. I might be prosecuted for child endangerment or abuse. But I can give them jiu jitsu. Like swimming and math, it forms a life skill that I consider indispensable for not just their safety and wellbeing, but for every other hard thing that will come their respective ways in all of their lives.

I have said before: I cannot always be with them and someday I will be gone. But jiu jitsu and the experiences and the difficulties surmounted in their early development will always be with them and will always have been a part of our shared experience.

Want to help your kids experience the magic of Jiu Jitsu? Try a free class at one of Easton’s academies near you!


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