In Carol Dweck’s famous study on growth mindset, Dweck taught high school students about brain plasticity and about how the characteristics of intelligence are not fixed. The idea was to convince students that they had control over improving their academic ability. Years later, these students scored higher on standardized tests.
It’s tempting to think of the Dweck study as a near instant fix. You teach students, or yourself, the details of growth mindset. This takes about an hour. And then afterward your performance magically improves.
Although Dweck’s study has been supported by future studies, for example this one, I suspect there is a crucial missing element to the story. What behaviors did the students change after the lesson? Knowing this is the key to understanding how you can improve your own life.
My story is about my mom, now a retired 3rd grade teacher. She took that same concept of teaching growth mindset and reworked it for 3rd graders. The reworked lesson plan came down to three YouTube videos. I’ll share those below and then share what happened in the class room after the lesson was over. In my observations of my mom’s classroom, all of the magic was in the behaviors that the students built afterward. In other words, it’s not knowledge that transformed the students, it was new habits.
#1. Success Is Not an Accident
First, my mom inspired her class with someone who embodies self-improvement. Steph Curry came into the NBA too short, too small, and too slow to be a star. Now he’s an MVP and World Champion. And it was all because of his practice habits.
I don’t think you need to be a third grader to be inspired by this.
#2. Your Brain Changes!
Then she threw a two minute video on neuroplasticity at the class.
This is a classic self-improvement tactic — practically all self-improvement books are written to start with an inspirational story and then to immediately pivot into an explanation of why anyone could achieve the same thing.
So my mom was hitting her kids with Curry for inspiration and then brain science for plausibility.
Here’s where I’m hoping you are finding your own future growth plausible: your brain can change. That’s what brain plasticity is. So no matter how bad you are at something right now, you can change that so that future you becomes very good at it. That’s basically what the concept of Growth Mindset is about.
#3. The Power of Yet
After the first two videos, my mom’s class was sold on growth mindset, but they didn’t know how to put it into practice.
Thankfully, Jannelle Monet was a guest on Sesame Street and gave the simplest behavioral pattern for practicing growth mindset: use the word Yet.
The Growth Mindset Habit
The three videos above are not enough to change a child’s life. They have to be followed up by a change in behavior.
That’s the entire misunderstanding with Carol Dweck’s study. The focus is on the initial lecture, not the follow on behavior.
One of my mom’s strengths as a teacher was that she brought a consistency to classroom management. And one of the changes she made to her classroom was that she started insisting that the class adopt the word yet.
Every time a kid says yet, they are representing that they are open to learning something new.
The lesson that my mom put together was the launchpad for a new habit. And that new habit was then reinforced hundreds of times over the school year.
You can’t A/B test my mother because she is retired. But I can share that her kids had one of the highest test score improvements of any class in her district.
Regardless of the merits of standardized testing, something about her teaching that year worked especially well. And anecdotally, that something revolved around the word Yet.
And for that reason, the word Yet has become a big part of my own self-talk. I hope you adopt it too.
No one wants to hang out with me. I’m a failure at school. All my other friends seem happy. What’s wrong with me?
These kinds of negative thoughts are becoming more common in our homes and schools. Teens are experiencing increased anxiety, and studies indicate that college students in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States are becoming more perfectionistic over time, measuring themselves against unrealistic standards.
Why is this happening? We can’t say for sure—but we do know there are steps teens can take to improve their mental health.
A 2018 study of early adolescents suggests that self-concept (your perception of self) plays a central role in emotional well-being. According to the study, a supportive classroom environment and positive social relationships also affect teen well-being—but the impact is indirect. Positive self-concept seems to be the key variable in the well-being equation. If a student feels good about herself, then she may be more likely to connect with others and benefit from the supports provided at school.
So, how can we influence how students think about themselves? This may feel like a very tall order; yet there is a lot of research out there that provides some clues for supporting the teens in your life. Here are five ways to help tweens and teens move toward a more positive self-concept.
1. Get physical
Although you may have heard this before, kids really can benefit from regular exercise (especially when their tendency is to sit in front of a screen). A recent review of 38 international studies indicates that physical activity alone can improve self-esteem and self-concept in children and adolescents.
Apparently, the exercise setting also matters. Students who participated in supervised activities in schools or gymnasiums reported more significant growth in self-esteem than those who exercised at home and in other settings.
Adolescents’ self-concept is most strongly linked to their sense of physical attractiveness and body image, an area where many people struggle. So, encourage more regular exercise programs during and after school, and support team sports, strength training, running, yoga, and swimming—not just for their effects on the body but on the mind, as well. Getting out and engaging in some form of exercise can make us feel stronger, healthier, and more empowered.
2. Focus on self-compassion (not self-esteem)
Because self-esteem is a global evaluation of your overall worth, it has its dangers. What am I achieving? Am I good enough? How do I compare with my peers?
What would happen if we could stop judging ourselves? Researcher Kristen Neff claims that self-compassion—treating yourself with kindness, openness, and acceptance—is a healthy alternative to the incessant striving and performance orientation often tied up with self-esteem.
In her study of adolescents and young adults, she found that participants with higher self-compassion demonstrated greater well-being. Why? They were okay with their flaws, acknowledged that they struggled just like those around them (“Everybody makes mistakes; you are not alone”), and treated themselves with the same kindness they would extend to a friend (“It’s okay; you did your best”).
Participants with higher self-compassion demonstrated greater well-being. Why? They were okay with their flaws, acknowledged that they struggled just like those around them (“Everybody makes mistakes; you are not alone”), and treated themselves with the same kindness they would extend to a friend
If you are interested in specific techniques and strategies for enhancing self-compassion in teens, take a look at the work of psychologist Karen Bluth. She recently developed a program called Making Friends with Yourself. Youth participating in this eight-week program reported greater resilience, less depression, and less stress at the end of it. However, if there isn’t a program near you, consider sharing this self-compassion workbook with the teens in your life.
3. Avoid social comparison
When we focus on self-esteem, we tend to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. Teens, in particular, often sense an “imaginary audience” (i.e., “Everyone is looking at me!”) and can become highly sensitized to who they are relative to everyone around them.
Instagram and other social media platforms don’t necessarily help. Some research suggests an association between social media and depression, anxiety, loneliness, and FoMO (fear of missing out) among teens. Their posts may not rack up the number of “likes” that their friends’ posts do, or they may feel excluded when they see pictures of classmates happily spending time together without them.
A new app for teen girls called Maverick may be a healthier option than Snapchat or Instagram. On this social media platform, teens can connect with role models (called “Catalysts”) and explore their creativity (such as designing their own superhero or choosing a personal mantra). Of course, there is always the option of taking a break from social media, as well.
Regardless of what teens choose to do online, many of our schools are also structured for social comparison. Grading, labeling, and tracking practices (grouping students based on their academic performance) don’t necessarily honor the stops, starts, and inevitable mistakes that are a natural part of the learning process.
Provide opportunities to revise and redo assignments.
Avoid ability grouping as much as possible.
Focus on individual growth and improvement.
Acknowledge students’ small successes.
4. Capitalize on specific skills
If you keep your eye out for teens’ talents and interests, you can support them in cultivating their strengths. Your son may think he is a terrible athlete, but he lights up when he works on school science projects. Then there’s that quiet, disheveled ninth-grade girl who sits in the back of your class. She may feel socially awkward, but she wows you with her poetry.
Researcher Susan Harter has studied adolescent self-esteem and self-concept for years. She claims that self-concept is domain-specific. Our overall self-esteem or sense of worth tends to be rooted in eight distinct areas: athletic competence, scholastic competence, behavioral conduct, social acceptance, close friendship, romantic appeal, job satisfaction, and physical attractiveness.
Talk to the teens in your life. What are their personal values and priorities? Share surveys with them like the VIA (which identifies character strengths like bravery, honesty, and leadership) or have them take a multiple intelligences quiz. Celebrate their talents and tailor activities and instruction around their abilities as much as possible.
It may not be easy to shift teens’ global sense of self-worth, but we can certainly highlight and encourage areas of interest and particular skill sets so that they feel more confident, capable, and inspired.
5. Help others (especially strangers)
Finally, when teens reach out to others, they are more likely to feel better about themselves. A 2017 study of 681 U.S. adolescents (ages 11-14) examined their kind and helpful behavior over a four-year period. Researchers found that adolescents who were kind and helpful in general had higher self-esteem, but those who directed their generosity toward strangers (not friends and family) tended to grow in self-esteem.
Last Friday, I joined my daughter and her peers during the “action” phase of their “Change the World” project. Their social studies teacher, Tim Owens, tasked the eighth graders with choosing a sustainability issue, researching the problem and possible solutions, planning action, and implementing the action.
These middle schoolers spent a full day canvasing their neighborhoods to advocate for policies that protected people they don’t know, like local refugees and homeless youth—as well as animals used for product testing. I’ve never seen my daughter and her friends more energized, confident, and engaged with their community.
As adults, we can actively support service learning projects in our schools and our teens’ interests in advocacy and civil engagement. Adolescents around the world can also work remotely with non-profit organizations like DoSomething, “a digital platform promoting offline action” in 131 countries. On this site, young people can choose a cause, the amount of time they want to commit to it, and the type of help they would like to provide (e.g., face-to-face, improving a space, making something, sharing something, etc.)
When teens regularly contribute to a larger cause, they learn to think beyond themselves, which may ultimately help them to be more positive, empowered, and purposeful.
As many teens struggle with anxiety and perfectionism, our urge may be to jump in and fix their problems, whatever we perceive them to be. But a better approach, one that will hopefully help reverse these worrying trends, is to cheer them on as they develop the mental habits and strengths that will support them throughout their lives.
Some people, regardless of what they lack—money, looks, or social connections—always radiate with energy and confidence. Even the most skeptical individuals find themselves enamored with these charming personalities.
These people are the life of every party. They’re the ones you turn to for help, advice, and companionship.
You just can’t get enough of them, and they leave you asking yourself, “What do they have that I don’t? What makes them so irresistible?”
The difference? Their sense of self-worth comes from within.
Irresistible people aren’t constantly searching for validation, because they’re confident enough to find it in themselves. There are certain habits they pursue every day to maintain this healthy perspective.
Since being irresistible isn’t the result of dumb luck, it’s time to study the habits of irresistible people so that you can use them to your benefit.
Get ready to say “hello” to a new, more irresistible you.
1. They Treat Everyone With Respect
Whether interacting with their biggest client or a server taking their drink order, irresistible people are unfailingly polite and respectful. They understand that—no matter how nice they are to the person they’re having lunch with—it’s all for naught if that person witnesses them behaving badly toward someone else. Irresistible people treat everyone with respect because they believe they’re no better than anyone else.
2. They Follow The Platinum Rule
The Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated—has a fatal flaw: it assumes that all people want to be treated the same way. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.
The Platinum Rule—treat others as they want to be treated—corrects that flaw. Irresistible people are great at reading other people, and they adjust their behavior and style to make others feel comfortable.
3. They Ditch The Small Talk
There’s no surer way to prevent an emotional connection from forming during a conversation than by sticking to small talk. When you robotically approach people with small talk this puts their brains on autopilot and prevents them from having any real affinity for you. Irresistible people create connection and find depth even in short, every day conversations. Their genuine interest in other people makes it easy for them to ask good questions and relate what they’re told to other important facets of the speaker’s life.
4. They Focus On People More Than Anything Else
Irresistible people possess an authentic interest in those around them. As a result, they don’t spend much time thinking about themselves. They don’t obsess over how well they’re liked, because they’re too busy focusing on the people they’re with. It’s what makes their irresistibility seem so effortless.
To put this habit to work for you, try putting down the smart phone and focusing on the people you’re with. Focus on what they’re saying, not what your response will be, or how what they’re saying will affect you. When people tell you something about themselves, follow up with open-ended questions to draw them out even more.
5. They Don’t Try Too Hard
Irresistible people don’t dominate the conversation with stories about how smart and successful they are. It’s not that they’re resisting the urge to brag. The thought doesn’t even occur to them because they know how unlikeable people are who try too hard to get others to like them.
6. They Recognize The Difference Between Fact And Opinion
Irresistible people handle controversial topics and touchy subjects with grace and poise. They don’t shrink from sharing their opinions, but they make it clear that they’re opinions, not facts. Whether discussing global warming, politics, vaccine schedules, or GMO foods, irresistible people recognize that many people who are just as intelligent as they are see things differently.
7. They Are Authentic
Irresistible people are who they are. Nobody has to burn up energy or brainpower trying to guess their agenda or predict what they’ll do next. They do this because they know that no one likes a fake.
People gravitate toward authentic individuals because they know they can trust them. It’s easy to resist someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.
8. They Have Integrity
People with high integrity are irresistible because they walk their talk, plain and simple. Integrity is a simple concept but a difficult thing to practice. To demonstrate integrity every day, irresistible people follow through, they avoid talking bad about other people, and they do the right thing, even when it hurts.
9. They Smile
People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to find you irresistible, smile at them during conversations and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.
10. They Make An Effort To Look Their Best (Just Not Too Much Of An Effort)
There’s a massive difference between being presentable and being vain. Irresistible people understand that making an effort to look your best is comparable to cleaning your house before company comes—it’s a sign of respect for others. But once they’ve made themselves presentable, they stop thinking about it.
11. They Find Reasons To Love Life
Irresistible people are positive and passionate. They’re never bored, because they see life as an amazing adventure and approach it with a joy that other people want to be a part of.
It’s not that irresistible people don’t have problems—even big ones—but they approach problems as temporary obstacles, not inescapable fate. When things go wrong, they remind themselves that a bad day is just one day, and they keep hope that tomorrow or next week or next month will be better.
Bringing It All Together
Irresistible people did not have fairy godmothers hovering over their cribs. They’ve simply perfected certain appealing qualities and habits that anyone can adopt as their own.
They think about other people more than they think about themselves, and they make other people feel liked, respected, understood, and seen. Just remember: the more you focus on others, the more irresistible you’ll be.
What other qualities make people irresistible? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
When people disrespect you or do not treat you well, it is easy to take their behavior personally, to blame yourself and think you have anything to do with someone else’s behavior. Taking things personally is emotionally draining, and an unnecessary, constant reevaluation of your self-esteem. There’s a difference between being reflective and constantly taking slights personally, one is productive and lends itself to self improvement, the other is the opposite…….
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, a commission originally set up by MP Jo Cox in 2016, loneliness can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is also associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and blood pressure, as well as dementia – one study cited by the campaign found that lonely people “have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia”. Having healthy social networks, on the other hand, can decrease risk of mortality and of developing diseases, as well as helping people recover when they are ill – and with 9 million adults describing themselves as “often or always lonely”, it is clear that loneliness has become such a pressing public health concern……
Distractions is definitely the theme of July. There were WAY too many meetings and events throughout this month. It felt very unproductive at times. Work felt especially imbalanced between meeting time and working time.
In the early stages of a company, hiring can be a make-or-break decision. Just one wrong hire can ultimately derail the venture. Unfortunately, hiring is extremely complicated and fraught with risk. This is especially the case with founders who may not have much experience with the process. So what to do? Well, I recently reached out to a variety of executives to get some advice.
Let’s take a look:
#1 – Establish Hiring Best Practices
“Cultivating a healthy and positive company culture starts with hiring best practices,” said Mehul Patel, who is the CEO of Hired. “Unfortunately, even the best hiring managers can miss red flags during the interview process that indicate a candidate is prone to toxic workplace behavior. However, there are a few ways to suss out the potential for toxic behavior that are critical for any hiring manager to follow.”
Here are some of the things he recommends:
The more team members who interview a candidate, the better. Each candidate that begins the interview process with your company should be introduced to a well-rounded roster of current employees who will be calibrating the candidate for the role. In addition to the hiring manager, there should be 3-4 additional employees who are interviewing the candidate.
Of course, “toxicity” won’t be listed on a candidate’s resume. Yet past behavior in the face of real challenges can be a revealing indicator. Try the following questions and listen for signs of overt negativity: What was your least favorite thing about your past employer? Tell me about a time when your team let you down and you had to pick up the slack? What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? How do you deal with an underperforming teammate?
Use reference checks. Following up with past employers for detailed references is essential to getting a better understanding of a candidate’s work style and interpersonal skills. Was the employee a team player? Were they curious and enthusiastic about new opportunities? What were some of their challenges and how do I set them up for success?
#2 – Interview for Skills, Hire for Personality
When it comes to the hiring process, there is often too much focus on skills. But this can easily lead to the wrong person. After all, you are not hiring a list of functions and duties – rather, you are bringing someone on who has a unique personality.
“The person you select, and their personality, will have a direct and immediate impact on your company culture, so surface level knowledge shouldn’t satisfy you,” said Samar Birwadker, who is the founder and CEO of Good&Co. “Merely paying lip service to culture fit– ignoring that daily interactions with his or her team and manager form the majority of the employee’s feeling about a job– does your company a massive disservice. Incorporating a new personality to your team is like adding a new ingredient midway through preparing dinner for your in-laws.”
The bottom line: When interviewing, you are looking at the skills. Then, when you make the hiring decision, it’s time to look at the fit. In other words, you need to pay attention to the interactions with your team. Is there some tension? Are there some bad vibes? Such things are certainly red flags, even if the person is highly skilled.
You can also use various apps to test a candidate’s personality (keep in mind that this is what Good&Co does and the company has a free app for iOS and Android).
#3 – Speaking Negatively About Their Past Employer
Jason Carney, who is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the HR Director of WorkSmart Systems, has over 20 years’ experience in staffing. His company is also a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) that serves over 200 client companies with employees in 37 states. Many of these are small to-medium-size employers.
When doing interviews, one of the factors Jason looks for is a person’s reflections on his or her previous jobs. “Even if someone has had a truly horrifying experience in the previous industry or job they were in, they should still be able to talk about their past employers in a positive way,” said Jason. “If they rant about how much they hated their last job, this could indicate to me that the applicant may not take responsibility for his or her own actions. This shows a sign of immaturity if they can’t at least share what was learned from the experience, instead of placing blame on others. What might they say about you when they leave your employ one day?”
“For a values-driven and team-oriented organization like Panda Express, we find it important to assess employees in terms of a company culture fit to avoid creating an environment that jeopardizes not only the business but also the growth and development of other team members,” said Leonard Yip, who is the Chief People Officer. “Our focus is to evaluate candidates holistically, assessing not only the person’s skillset and experience, but also their mindset. An employee with a positive attitude who is willing to learn can prove to be invaluable.”
This means that – during the interview process – you need to listen for key words like “we” versus “I” or “me.” There must also be a focus on behavioral-based questions to assess whether an applicant shares the same set of values of the company.
For Panda Express, this is about using the P.R.O. questioning method. “It involves asking about past experiences, examining how the candidate responded and determining what the outcome was. By learning about an employee’s past behavior to predict their future behavior, we look for individuals who are energized by problem solving and learn from their experiences.”
A four-minute film produced for the UnLonely Film Festival and Conference last month featured a young woman who, as a college freshman, felt painfully alone. She desperately missed her familiar haunts and high school buddies who seemed, on Facebook at least, to be having the time of their lives.
It reminded me of a distressing time I had as an 18-year-old college sophomore — feeling friendless, unhappy and desperate to get out of there.
Fortunately, I visited the university health clinic where an astute psychologist examined my high school records, including a long list of extracurricular activities, and noted that I had done only schoolwork during my first year in college.
“There’s nothing the matter with you that wouldn’t be fixed by your becoming more integrated into the college community,” she said. She urged me to get involved with something that would connect me to students with similar interests.
I protested that as a biochemistry major with classes six mornings a week and four afternoon labs, I had no time for extracurricular activities. And she countered: “You have to find time. It’s essential to your health and a successful college experience.”
Having no better option, I joined a monthly student-run magazine that fit into my demanding academic schedule. I soon fell in love with interviewing researchers and writing up their work. I also befriended a faculty adviser to the magazine, a grandfatherly professor who encouraged me to expand my horizons and follow my heart.
Two years later as a college senior and the magazine’s editor, I traded courses in physical chemistry and advanced biochemistry for news reporting and magazine writing.
The rest is history. Armed with a master’s degree in science writing and two years as a general assignment reporter, at 24 I was hired by The New York Times as a science writer, a job I have loved for 53 years. In making rewarding social connections in college, I not only conquered loneliness, I found a path to a marvelous career.
“Social connections, in a very real way, are keys to happiness and health,” noted Dr. Jeremy Nobel, founder of the UnLonely Project and faculty member in primary care at Harvard Medical School. In an opinion piece in The Boston Globe written with Michelle Williams, dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, these experts stated that loneliness and social isolation play “an outsized role” in preventable deaths by suicide.
They urged that social relationships be considered a national public health priority “to roll back those heartbreaking, preventable deaths of despair.”
But it’s not just young people who are lonely. “More than a third of adults are chronically lonely, and 65 percent of people are seriously lonely some of the time,” Dr. Nobel said in an interview. Among the groups with especially high rates of loneliness are veterans, 20 of whom take their own lives each day on average. Even half of chief executives experience loneliness (it can be lonely at the top), a state that can adversely affect job performance.
The rate of persistent loneliness is also high among older adults, who, in addition to limitations imposed by chronic illness, may suffer the isolating effects of mobility issues, lack of transportation and untreated hearing loss.
However, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, told the UnLonely conference that no one is immune to the toxic effects of social isolation. “It’s so distressing, it’s been used as a form of punishment and torture,” Dr. Holt-Lunstad said.
“Loneliness saps vitality, impairs productivity and diminishes enjoyment of life,” Drs. Nobel and Williams wrote. Its effects on health match that of obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking 15 cigarettes a day, increasing the risk of an early death by 30 percent.
The aim of the UnLonely Project, Dr. Nobel said, is to raise awareness of its increasing incidence and harmful effects and reduce the stigma — the feelings of embarrassment — related to it.
“We want people to know that loneliness is not their fault and to encourage them to become engaged in programs that can diminish it,” he said. One program featured in the film festival depicts a group of older women in the Harlem neighborhood in New York who participate in synchronized swimming. One of the women said she didn’t even know how to swim when she joined the group but now wouldn’t miss a session.
In Augusta, Ga., in partnership with AARP, a program of painting together, as well as music and dance, was created for caregivers who often have little opportunity to connect with others and reap the benefits of mutual support and friendship.
Doing something creative and nurturing helps both caregivers and people struggling with serious chronic illness get outside themselves and feel more connected, Dr. Ruth Oratz, medical oncologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, told the conference, convened by the Foundation for Art and Healing.
The foundation’s goal, Dr. Nobel said, is to promote the use of creative arts to bring people together and foster health and healing through activities like writing, music, visual arts, gardening, textile arts like knitting, crocheting and needlework, and even culinary arts.
“Loneliness won’t just make you miserable — it will kill you,” Dr. Nobel said. “Creative arts expression has the power to connect you to yourself and others. How about a monthly potluck supper? It’s so simple, such a great way to be connected as well as eat good food.”
Much of modern life, though seeming to promote connectivity, has had the opposite effect of fostering social isolation and loneliness, experts say. According to the foundation, “Internet and social media engagement exacerbates feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety.”
People rarely relate intimate tales of misery and isolation on Facebook. Rather, social media postings typically feature fun and friendship, and people who lack them are likely to feel left out and bereft. Electronic communications often replace personal, face-to-face interactions and the subtle signals of distress and messages of warmth and caring such interactions can convey.
So consider making a date this week to meet a friend for coffee, dinner, a visit to a museum or simply a walk. Online communities like Meetup.com can be a good source for finding others with common interests. If nothing else, pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone. Chances are, you will both be better off for it.