I almost wanted to cry.
My professor’s words rang in my ears:
So for the assignment, you need to do a factor analysis, create a summative index and test a model using multiple regression analysis.
Er, say what?
All I could think about was X-factor, but I was pretty sure that’s not what he meant.
I’m currently doing a quantitative methods class as part of my master’s program. This is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever taken.
Fortunately, I’m not alone.
Most classmates share my fear for numbers and statistical analysis. But I’ve noticed some interesting reactions around people’s mindsets that I want to share with you. Two responses stand out.
Response 1: “I don’t know how to do this. I must be stupid.”
This has normally been my standard response to any task involving math or statistics. I’ve told myself the story that I’m not a number’s person, that I’m just one of those people who “don’t get it.”
Instead, I’d look at the math geniuses of the world with a mix of jealously and admiration, thinking that could never be me. I could never be “one of them”.
I’m trying very hard in this course to choose another response. It looks a lot more promising (not to mention fun).
Response 2: “I don’t know how to do this… yet.“
Yet is a magic word. It tells a different story. A story of learning and becoming.
This response rewards effort and is much kinder to your emotional bank account.
I’ve filled my notebook with these growth-mindseted messages, so I can remind myself to choose response number 2:
I can always substantially change how intelligent I am.
And one of my favourite quotes:
The expert in anything was once a beginner.
Read those messages again. Let them sink in. Do they make you feel any different?
These messages help me shift my inner voice and focus on the power of becoming better at solving the problem. Notice also that the message doesn’t judge you as a person, but puts the focus on the actions that are needed to move forward.
Which response will you choose?
How we respond to a challenge ultimately defines us.
So, give yourself the time and opportunity to tackle it head on. Read books. Ask questions (there is no such thing as a stupid question). Speak to people who have solved your problem, and you’d be surprised by how many are happy to help.
Just remember: you’re not stupid. You’re learning something new. And occasionally that costs a tear or two.
Over to you… Which response do you think wins in the end?
Photo credit: Max Lindholm
Editor’s note: Want to read more about how mindset works? Read this article next: How I Went from Losing My Summer Job to Starting My Own Business.