Adopting a growth mindset

When people talk about what it takes to accomplish dreams and ultimately succeed in life, I am immediately reminded of the conviction that Kishimoto’s “Naruto” raises: it doesn’t take talent but hard work to reach a dream.

The main protagonist, Naruto Uzumaki, is first introduced as the underdog in the city of Konoha, where he fails to be recognized by the community. On the other hand, Sasuke Uchiha is frequently viewed as the prodigy among his peers, and he consistently demonstrates his knowledge and power to students and teachers alike. Naruto believes that hard work will help him achieve his dream of becoming powerful, whereas Sasuke arrogantly assumes that his intelligence, as recognized by the community, will allow him to surpass others. However, through hard work and perseverance, Naruto ultimately comes out on the top, becoming far more powerful than Sasuke.

Naruto’s tenacity is an example of growth mindset, in which people become successful through practice, as opposed to Sasuke’s fixed mindset, which revolves around the notion that one is born with innate skills and abilities which cannot be improved upon or changed. At first glance, it may seem as if the characters are responsible for developing their own personality and views on the world. However, it is society itself that influences the characters’ mindsets. Since Naruto was called a failure, whereas Sasuke was lauded as a talented student, the two characters develop drastically contrasting mindsets.

The notion that society shapes students’ mindsets is shown in our everyday lives. When people perform relatively well at an early age, whether it be in academics, sports or another field of study, society has a tendency to label them as talented. On the other hand, when people perform poorly and fail to succeed at a given task, society recognizes them as unsuccessful. As a result, these particular students can only divide their peers into two groups: successful and unsuccessful.

I remember in my elementary school, students would often label one another. Ace a test, you’re smart. Fail a test, tough luck. Most, if not all, of my classmates developed a fixed mindset. They labeled themselves as smart or unintelligent, which ultimately resulted in a lack of learning experience. They could only think to themselves, “I’m already smart, so I don’t need to know this,” or “I’m not smart, so I can’t learn this.”

When students are called smart at an early age, they often develop a fixed mindset, and they picture themselves on the top of the hierarchy. This causes these individuals to stray from growth and development, as they think to themselves that being “smart” is all they need. However, unlike these individuals with a fixed mindset, individuals with a growth mindset tend to set higher goals and expectations for themselves, in which they work hard to achieve them. Having a growth mindset is imperative in modern society, as we consistently look for new, innovative approaches to solve issues. Discovering these solutions requires people to work hard and give it their all, not avoid challenges and stray from development.

To me, it’s clear that society needs to adopt a curriculum for all fields of study that allows students to develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Though this may sound like a complicated process, it’s quite simple. There are various approaches to developing a growth mindset. At school, we should stop judging students based on poor academic performance and alternatively applaud them for giving their assignment a good attempt. By encouraging students and surrounding them with good influences, students can set goals and expectations for the future, thus developing a growth mindset. Students also need to disregard the social construct of labels and develop good work ethics. Consistently putting effort into responsibilities will result in the development of a growth mindset.

In my opinion, there are more people with fixed mindsets than people with growth mindsets. To tackle this problem, we need to encourage one another, so that the likelihood of someone developing a growth mindset is greater than chances of someone developing a fixed one. By developing growth mindsets and avoiding fixed mindsets, society can take a bigger step to becoming a world of productivity.

By Andrew Kim, Opinion editor
Editorial cartoon by Joy Wang