How I Discovered and Overcame my Fixed Mindset
Learning something new can be exciting, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Recently, I came to some difficult conclusions about my struggles on my current learning journey. On my ritual morning walk today, I discovered how I was getting in my own way of learning.
From 2007 through 2017 I taught math as a tutor, coach, and classroom teacher to hundreds of students.
From 2016 through 2020, I taught coaching skills to over 1,000 professionals at IBM. Since 2014, I have been teaching entrepreneurship as a workshop facilitator and university instructor to thousands of people.
So when I decided to start creating digital courses, I figured I was incredibly well positioned to translate that experience and success to the digital realm.
I was wrong!
Digital courses are a different game. There are teaching aspects to digital courses where I’ll enjoy a nice advantage. However, there are so many other aspects to digital course building that require different and new skills that I did not have to develop as a classroom or workshop teacher.
A few weeks ago, I decided to embrace being a beginner again and enrolled in Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy. However, I have not made much progress in the course so far. Even though I was excited about this course, I challenged some of the lessons. I resisted some of the strategies and activities since they are so different from what I normally do as a teacher.
Last week, I decided to sit down and simply follow the workbook without questioning any of it. That led to some great breakthroughs in my course progress. I realized that I need to trust the instructor and follow the recipe. Even with that, I didn’t feel I got to the core of whatever was slowing me down. Until today.
My Biggest Blocker to Learning in this Course
Today, while on my ritual coffee walk, I discovered I have a fixed mindset for this new endeavor.
Since I have been teaching successfully for over 10 years, I already considered myself a good and experienced teacher. Running into challenges with digital course building made me defensive. My struggles felt like an attack on my identity as a good teacher. It felt as if the last 14 years were all for nothing or worse yet, I was lying to myself about my success.
I thought to myself, “how can I struggle with this, I’ve been teaching for over 10 years?” This is when the fixed mindset started to flex its muscle. I started shifting blame to the platforms and the technology. I felt that since it didn’t come easily, the strategy that Amy is teaching must not be a good fit for me. After all, I have been teaching for 14 years, so how could I be the problem?
As it turns out, I was the problem. My fixed mindset was slowing down my progress in this course. With some reflection, I realized several things.
Teaching isn’t Always Teaching
Changing formats or distribution methods can require brand new skills even if you are still performing the same core activity. When I pivoted to teaching math in the classroom, I discovered this lesson. Prior to teaching in the classroom, I was very successful in one-on-one math coaching and tutoring engagements and I assumed the classroom would be no different. I was wrong and learned there were new skills to be learned when teaching to 20+ students in a classroom. Working with experienced teachers, I learned classroom management skills and began apply my past strengths to the classroom.
This experience taught me that the format and distribution channel matters a lot. A growth mindset helped me overcome this challenge and will certainly help me again.
Reflecting on this past lesson reminded me that I’ve done this before and I can do it again.
Baking a cake for the first time? Follow the recipe!
When you bake a cake for the first time, just follow the recipe. Don’t adjust the recipe or ingredients on the first try. Bake a few cakes and once you can do it consistently, then start experimenting. But always follow the recipe first. Trust those that came before us in this field and have already done the hard to work to get us the recipe. They know what they are doing.
When I first became a global facilitator for the 3-day Techstars Startup Weekend event, I did exactly this. I followed the recipe for the first 8-10 events. That’s about how long it took me to consistently deliver a good event with less effort. That freed up mental resources to begin experimenting in future events. As I reached 20, 30, and 40 events, I continued to tweak and modify the recipe. I believe this is why I was able to successfully deliver 50 events around the world over the next several years.
Today, I’m faced with a new recipe that Amy is teaching me. It’s time for me to just follow it and build this course!
Being a beginner can be exciting, but that doesn’t make it easier.
Being a beginner again can be exciting, but I still had to overcome my fixed mindset for building digital courses. I thought that simply getting excited about this course was my way of opening myself up to learning whatever the course offered. That was not the case. First, I had to accept that building digital courses was going to require new skills and embrace learning them. Second, I had to do some tough reflection to find and breakthrough my fixed mindset for this challenge. Now that I’ve done all that comes the work of following the recipe, learning the new skills, and putting them to use.
Even though it’s exciting, I must still do the hard work to learn these new skills. And with an open mind and growth mindset, I am ready for the challenge.