Encouragement and Mindset

NDSU Microbiology
by NDSU Microbiology

Guest Blogger: Yayra Domfeh, M.S. student in Microbiology

As a person – a student, a lecturer, a husband, a wife, a parent, a child – we all appreciate it and get inspired when another person tells us he/she believes in us.

As I sat listening to Steve Winfrey, director of the Memorial Union and our first external speaker for seminar this fall, speak about, “The Success Mindset,” I kept thinking that at some point in one’s life,
one moves from one strong mindset to another and vice versa depending on the situation and support of family and friends.

Given the two types of mindset - fixed and growth - I have always thought of myself as a person with a strong growth mindset. I was someone who told myself that no matter what, I have to make it even if it calls for working extra hard and it has always paid off. I must say this is what a child from the part of Ghanaian I come from is forced to accept. One must aspire to success. Failures are just out of the question.

Coming from this part of the world, where one speaks only when called upon, I had difficulty speaking on my first day in class, a class of a round table discussion. Everyone spoke so fast and without being called upon. I felt sad and confused! I wept after lecture and for once in my entire lifetime, felt like a failure. At this point, the fixed mindset had taken over. I asked myself many questions like why did I think I could succeed in microbiology? Why did I choose to switch from the fields of engineering and plant tissue culture where I was?

But hearing the words, “I believe in you, you can make it,” from my husband, I began to see myself picking up growth mindset again. He advised me to visit my lecturers and speak with them about how I felt. As interesting as this could be, the next day when I decided to see them, the “loud” fixed mindset voice told me I would be looked down upon. On the other hand, the “soft” growth mindset voice said “they’ll be glad to listen and help you”. In the end, growth mindset won the battle and I went to see Dr. McEvoy and thank God I did. I told him I was all lost in the class and I did not think I was going to make it. Dr. McEvoy told me the same words I had heard earlier and added that they were there to see students succeed. I felt a stronger growth mindset now. The next thing I heard myself say was I was ready for extra work should there be the need.

In our next class, I was surprised to hear another student also talk about how the first class made her feel she did not know what was going on as I had felt and then many more students joined in. This gave me the chance to hear additional encouraging words from Dr. Shuh.

With all these positive moments and encouraging words from my advisors about my research in microbiology, I think one’s mindset can be influenced leading to the person developing a fixed or a growth mindset.

This is my opinion. What is your take on this?