Ranjana TN

What’s your growth mindset reference experience?

Back in school, Throwball used to be a huge deal. There were three houses – Chalukya, Hoysala, and Kakathiya. Every year, there would be two throwball tournaments between them – one for classes 6-8 and another for classes 9-12. Trials would be held 3 weeks before the tournament and the best players would be picked. We typically started learning the game properly in class 7, so for the class 6-8 category, the team mostly had players from class 8 since they were well-practiced by then.

I sucked at the game in class 7. I remember feeling so down that I wasn’t picked for the team! I think I was the third reserve or something. But I desperately wanted to play the next year, so I decided to get good at it. I had a friend in my neighbourhood who happily agreed to practice with me every evening. My throws were my weakest point; the ball rarely, if ever, managed to cross the net. So that’s what I worked on first. Day after day, I practiced throwing higher and farther. Then I progressed to putting more strength into my throws. In Throwball, double touch is not allowed while receiving the service ball, so the harder I sent it into an opponents hand, the more the chances that the person would drop the ball or double-touch it. Over time, I got even more sophisticated. I practiced hard at school too, learning to throw the ball hard and fast just high enough to cross the net so that it landed on the opponent closest to the net who’d find it the hardest to catch.

Long story short, in a year, I got pretty good at the game. So good that I was made the team captain in class 8 for Chalukya house. And man, wasn’t I proud! We didn’t win the tournament that year, but that wasn’t the point, ultimately. I still felt really good about my hard work and the abilities I’d painstakingly developed. The best part was that I’d fallen in love with that game. I continued to practice and have fun with it through class 8. In class 9, I made it effortlessly into the class 9-12 team. I was elated! That tournament was super fast-paced, tense, and fun. And guess what…we won it! 2 years of relentless practice had paid off.

I still recall this particular experience vividly because it was a great lesson in determination, having a growth mindset, perseverance, and hard work. When I saw this working in the area of Throwball, I quickly tried this formula out in other areas too, such as studies. In class 9, I decided that I wanted to become a better student and started studying subjects with a lot of interest and earnestness. The more effort I put in, the more enjoyable the subjects became. I think that was the real benefit of the hard work and perseverance – it helped me enjoy the process of studying and got me interested in the subjects for their own sake. That’s a powerful place to be because grades are temporary but learning is permanent. It also ensured that I didn’t give up even when the questions and concepts became increasingly difficult. I didn’t realise it then, but I was actually embracing a growth mindset.

Class 10 was my best year academically. I scored 96.8% with a 100/100 in Mathematics. I came second in my school and 7th in the country! It became a great reference experience and a testimony to what becomes possible with hard work, persistence, and a growth mindset.

I’d love for you to look back at your own life for such reference experiences. A lot of times, we forget what we’ve been capable of in the past and sink into a sort of negative, can’t-do attitude. Reminding yourself of the times when you’ve embraced a growth mindset and worked hard can act as a shot in the arm and allow you to move forward with a renewed sense of determination and self-belief.