How many times have you taken on seemingly-insurmountable problems like this tiny mongoose did in a David vs. Goliath match? S/he successfully fended off four lions.
Lions! And four!
In the face of extreme odds, the mongoose displayed growth mindset.
What he didn’t do when faced with the inevitable was giving up. He stared back, even attacked, and hung on till he got the opportunity to escape.
During those critical moments when the mongoose was inches away from a fatal blow, was he thinking about the impossibility of the task at hand? Was he thinking about what he’ll be doing later in the day? Or, something else?
None of those.
If the mongoose thought about the enormity of the task at hand during the struggle, he would’ve become too deflated, demoralized to put up a fight. Imagine, the mongoose petrified in fear uttering to himself, “I’m going to die… I’m going to die.” With this attitude, his mind & body would’ve frozen and he . . . dead.
What mongoose did best here was to focus in the moment and give his best without bothering about the situation.
That’s the key when facing such situations.
When serving at 0-40 in an important match, do top tennis players think about what’ll happen if they lose the next point?
They focus all their energy on hitting an ace or a service winner on the next serve, and if that doesn’t happen, they still give their best to win the point. They can’t always get the result in their favor, but they put themselves in the best possible position to turn the tide this way.
When faced with extremely challenging situations, just live in the moment (not think about other things, certainly not about what will happen if you don’t succeed) and give your best. That’s probably the only way you can come out of it. Two examples:
1. Imagine you’re in an examination hall, and you’ve just received the exam paper (pen & paper type). You glance through it quickly. It’s extremely tough. What do you do?
One option is to think about worst-case scenarios, and allow the shock to derail your composure (and the exam).
The other, growth mindset, is to be calm, thinking that it’s tough not just for you but for everyone else. And then look for openings in the fortress – relatively easier questions. Attempt them. Then come to tougher ones, and answer them to the extent you can (if the evaluation allows partial marks). That’s mongoose way. That’s growth mindset, which many students fail to adopt. And if you choose this option, you’ll certainly do better.
2. You fail to achieve the desired result in your favorite activity – sports, academics, or anything else. Do you fall into a long bout of despondency, after all it’s a big setback? Self-destruct yourself? Or you take it up as a challenge like the mongoose did?
Choice is yours.