Mindset lessons from The Karate Kid

Mindset lessons from The Karate Kid

Karate_kidIn the same way that “Daniel-Son” didn’t fully appreciate the method (and pain) in Mr Miyagi’s training madness, in the movie the Karate Kid, so budding entrepreneurs may not always be mindful of the importance of a growth mindset to their endeavours.

Daniel’s training took the form of menial household chores which, predictably, frustrated him. Miyagi explained that these actions would help Daniel to learn essential, defensive Karate blocks through muscle memory. Mr Miyagi cultivated and appealed to Daniel’s growth mindset by demonstrating that his abilities could be developed through application and instruction.

More academically, Prof. Carol Dweck’s ongoing and renowned research on mindset reveals that when students believe that their intelligence can increase, they orient towards doing just that. Students with a growth mindset display an emphasis on learning, effort, and persistence in the face of obstacles. Dweck found the following main characteristics about these students:

  • They are significantly more orientated towards learning goals
  • Show a far stronger belief in the power of effort; They believe that effort promotes ability and that effort is effective regardless of current level of ability
  • Demonstrate mastery-orientated reactions to setbacks

Ricardo Johnson, our Scholarship Regional Manager, has seen these traits in various scholars over the years. He shared stories about two such growth-minded scholars.

The first story is of a boy who became only one of two scholars at his school to be given full access to the school’s music studio – a right reserved strictly for staff in the Music Department. The scholar chose to make the rules his own rather than play by the rules. He earned the trust of the Music Staff by waiting patiently outside the music studio each day to introduce himself to staff as they came in and out as well as asking (repeatedly but politely) to sit-in with staff under supervision. His passion for music was undeniable but it was his determination in growing his presence within the school’s music department that eventually guaranteed trust. Today the scholar is a student at Berklee College of Music, the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world.

The second is of a scholar whose persistence and effort in his extra Maths tutorial has not only resulted in a substantial improvement in his Maths marks, but has left the Maths tutor begging him to go home after their weekly sessions! Passion and persistence in the face of obstacles is one indicator of a growth mindset. Research shows that the brain forms new neural connections every time we face challenges and learn. Successful entrepreneurs engage in this process more frequently and with greater effort than others. To date, the scholar has received accolades from ENKE, InnovateSA and the Junior City Council.

Like the Karate Kid, the growth mindset that is inculcated in Scholars takes time, considerable effort and the realisation that success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.

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