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A Growth Mindset for Music Teachers

Deepak Chopra quote on music

As teachers, I’m certain we are all believers of the “growth mindset” – meaning we believe people can change. But, do we truly live this by example?

The results in your life – good or bad – are the direct results of your thoughts and actions.

As we all tend to get a bit more reflective on our lives at the end of the year and start planning our goals, here’s some beliefs that I want to fully embrace.

1) Negative emotions are change signals.

When you are feeling negative emotions, it’s like a warning light on your mental dashboard for a change. Something needs to change, whether it’s an action you are taking (or not), the environment you are in and the people you are surrounding yourself with.

2) The fog of confusion precedes the calm of clarity.

There is always a period of confusion right before the epiphany, “the a-ha moment.” If you are feeling confused, stop, take a breath, meditate, get calm enough to see the ripples on the surface of your mental waters, and reflect.

The clouds of confusion are burned away by the sun of awareness. A path forward is revealed.

3) You are responsible for ALL your results.

I remember when I first heard this and it was a feeling of shock.

“What do you mean I’m completely responsible for everything?” I was so used to blaming the world for my problems. And of course, the more you indulge in this kind of personal un-accountability, the more “proof” you get.

The traffic cop pulls only “you” over when everyone else is going at the same speed. Or the TSA official picks only you out for a random strip search. Of course the world is against you! Changing your mindset is akin to magic. By taking personal responsibility for your entire life, your health, your finances, your living environment, everything…it radically changes your world. And at first, it’s scary.

Start in one area. Pick a specific activity where you absolutely believe that you are responsible for your results like a sport, or a musical instrument or a language. By holding yourself accountable for your results, you begin to live in this belief. From there, you can expand to all other areas of your life.

4) Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.

I used to have a lot of anger and frustration. Taking on and conditioning myself with this belief has been a struggle, but produces fruit everyday. It really is unlikely that the world is conspiring against you. In fact, everyone is too caught up in their own problems, insecurities, and limiting beliefs. Hold your judgment and realize, they’re doing the best they can with the resources they have available at the moment.

5) There is no permanence. Success or failure are a temporary state.

If you look around you, there’s the illusion of permanence everywhere. The furniture in the room. The buildings, the mountains, the lakes, and the trees. But look deeper and you see that all is temporary. A snapshot in time. Apple is the biggest company on the planet…at the moment. But remember US Steel, one of the largest employers in the world in the 1950’s? Today they are a mere shell of what they once were. Or what about Pan American Airlines? These were seen as bedrock, unstoppable successes, for a while. Nothing is permanent. We are all in a state of motion.

Even the most solid of materials, at the quantum level, are in motion.

If we are not growing, we are dying. Keep moving, evolving, reaching for higher and higher levels. It’s the only way to stay in a state of success. Don’t be misled that it’s all sunny days from now on. There will be failures (or you can call them learnings) along the way. But as long as you are aware of the learnings, incorporate them, and move on, you will be in a more consistent state of success.

6) “My Actions Are The Ground I Stand On.”

I borrowed this quote from the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Without action, it’s all just daydreaming. And the most amazing thing is that you don’t have to know all the steps, just the next one or two. From there, you arrive at a higher place where you can see new things and new opportunities arise. New people come into your life. And the next two or three steps are revealed and so on and so on.

Happy New Year!

May this be a truly blessed, joyous, and abundant year for you and your students!

Andrew Ingkavet

Andrew Ingkavet is an educator, author and entrepreneur. His belief that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Andrew helps children, parents and educators with the Musicolor Method, an innovative music curriculum suitable for all children even those who are preliterate or have special needs. His previous bookThe Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Practice Fun is rated 5 stars at Amazon. Andrew is also known as one of the first VJ's at MTV Asia and co-founder of the first digital marketing agency in Asia. He holds a Bachelors of Music from NYU where he was a Scholar in Education.

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