I was packing for my flight home from Spain when I looked at my friend's computer. It was early morning and no one else was awake yet.
That's weird, I thought to myself. The computer says it's an hour later than my watch.
Despite that, I went back to getting ready without a worry. I let my friend, whom I was visiting in Barcelona, sleep. When she did wake up, we ate breakfast. Then I casually mentioned what I saw and inquired if her computer was in-fact showing the correct time.
"Nope. There's nothing to worry about. We've got time to make your flight." She reassured me.
And I was so sure she was right, I didn't question her. I mean, the clocks weren't supposed to spring forward for another week. Her computer must have gotten confused.
Suddenly, my friend's tone changed. "Actually, my computer was right. Daylight savings ends earlier in Europe and I didn't realize it. We still have time to get you to the airport but we have to leave soon."
We gathered my bags and caught a cab. The entire way to the airport I frantically checked the time, my anxiety grew by the minute.
The line at the airport is absurdly long. It was a mob-scene. By the time I made it to check-in I learned, I was too late to board my flight. I started to fret that I was going to have to buy another, international, ticket home.
How in the world did I miss the obvious warning signs?
This situation illustrates the power of the human brain. I was so committed to the story I was telling myself I refused to accept an alternative explanation. Even though my own logic was incredibly flawed, I held onto my perception like my life depended on it.
Perhaps I was in denial. Maybe I wanted an excuse to stay in Spain. It's possible I secretly wanted to miss my flight.
But the more likely explanation is I was entrenched in a position. And the facts didn't support my worldview - I was young and completely unaware when the clocks shifted back from daylight savings time wasn't universal. Therefore, I easily convinced myself the computer was wrong and I was right.
This type of mental bias happens all the time. We miss the warning signs and make excuses when something doesn't fit our perceptions of reality rather than consider alternatives. What if our perception is wrong?
Part of the reason it is so hard to consider perceptions of reality that contradict our own stories is our addiction to being right. We have spent years in an education system rewarding us for getting the right answer and punishing us for mistakes. Such experiences reinforce the premise, being right is good, while being wrong is bad. What's more, we experience a release of dopamine in the brain anytime we are right - making us feel better about ourselves.
All of this leads to becoming entrenched in a position.
I see this play out with professionals. Blaming others is one of the patterns that often emerges when addiction to being right is pervasive within an organization. We assert others a responsible for the problems we encounter rather than reflect on how we are contributing to the circumstances we say we don't want.
And our mindset is a critical yet often overlooked factor. Staying entrenched in a position is one sign you're living with a fixed mindset. People with fixed mindsets believe things are the way they are and there's nothing they can do about it. They believe they got the smarts they were born with and they can't do anything to improve their intelligence. A fixed mindset is the ultimate victims mentality.
My remedial reading teacher exhibited a fixed mindset when she declared I was "a lost cause!" Mind you, I was seven years old at the time and had a learning disability. Luckily, her perception didn't hold me back but instead gave me the gumption to prove her wrong.
On the other hand, a growth mindset acknowledges and celebrates our innate capacity to learn, grow and improve. Having a growth mindset is less about being right all the time and more about pursuing a journey of mastery. People with a growth mindset follow their curiosity, pursue ambitious goals others might say aren't possible, and stretch themselves to experiment with new challenges.
Now here's the kicker - the world's not so black and white. It's not, you either always have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Instead, I find there are times where we each exhibit a fixed mindset = addiction to being right. In other words, our minds are closed. Whereas, the times where we exhibit a growth mindset = an insatiable need to explore the edges of our knowledge. In those instances our minds are open.
On a macro scale, a lot of us exhibit a growth mindset. But in certain moments, we revert to fixed mindsets because such a perspective on the world has been so deeply etched into our psyches by traditional schooling and societal norms.
When I was getting ready to leave Spain that Sunday many years ago, I had a fixed mindset in the moment. My mind was closed because I felt certain my perception was correct. As a result, I had to deal with the consequences. While I missed my first flight, I was able to jump on another one from Barcelona to Madrid and made my flight back to the states. But I learned in that moment to question assumptions I hold as facts - to allow my mind to be more open and less entrenched in a position.
What positions have you been entrenched in lately? What if you opened your mind to other perspectives? I'd love to hear from you, drop me a line!