I Think the Best, I Expect the Best

An Eighth Grade Mindset that Persists Today


In the eighth grade, I won first place in the Optimist International Oratory contest.  For those of you who know me, you may not be surprised that a contest that involves talking was one that I had the capability to win back in the day!  Recently, I found a typewritten, yellowed copy of my speech titled “I Think the Best, I Expect the Best” and read through it anxiously for some pointers on navigating my attitude during this particularly challenging time.  Maybe there was something my eighth grade self could remind me of that my now older and wiser self had forgotten.  Stay tuned for that…..


Mindset–the way we look at the world–has a fundamental impact on our behavior and ultimately on the outcomes we create. Yet, we may tend to overlook the power that exists within our own mind and fail to maximize that power for good instead of evil.


Becoming aware of our mindset and then managing it is something within our control during this highly unusual time (well, really during any time).  Could it be as simple as “I think the best, I expect the best”?


Yes–it’s that simple and that difficult.


Having a growth mindset, as Carol Dweck explains in her book,  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success means, in my words, thinking the best and expecting the best.  Believing that our experiences are simply that—experiences.  Experiences we can learn from, grow from and ultimately create change from.  The opposite of a growth mindset–a fixed mindset–would have us believe that life is the way it is, we have no capability to impact it.  It is the mindset behind perfectionism as well.  The thing telling us that we can’t start something because it won’t be perfect or that feeds our procrastination to not finish something because again, it won’t be perfect.  


So, that’s all well and good, but how can we be mindful of mindset and cultivate more of a growth mindset when we suspect the fixed mindset monster is creeping into our psyche?


A few of my favorite ways to foster a growth mindset–offered by Dweck in her book: 

  • Accept effort as key to success.

I love this because it reminds us that we have to do something to achieve something. We can’t sit and plan for something to happen without exerting the effort to make it so!  Simply put, from my eighth grade perspective, “Think of several ideas that could help you achieve your goal and then if one does not work, you’ll always have an alternate plan.”


  • Seek challenges.

How easy it is to get into the rut of doing things the same way we’ve always done them.  And the challenge doesn’t have to be something monumental.  A couple of challenges I’ve taken on throughout the quarantine–learn a new recipe, do a craft project (and not judge the finished product).  What about you? Is there something you can challenge yourself to do that perhaps fear of failure has gotten in your way before?  As my eighth grade self said, “Don’t let the fact that your goals may not be as challenging or exciting as someone elses.  The fact that you are trying to reach a goal is the thing that is most important.”


  • Seek ongoing improvement.

Related to seeking challenges, it’s hard to improve when we won’t accept a challenge.  Look for ways to make you (and the world around you) better.  And, remember, these don’t have to be huge things. I genuinely believe that as each of us strives to improve, even in the smallest of ways, it can impact the world around us (even if we don’t know exactly how right now). In 1983, I put it this way, “Setting goals and thinking and expecting the best can be very beneficial to you and the world around you.  Your positive attitude will attract many new friends and you will begin to think better of yourself and others.”

What might you be approaching with a fixed mindset?  And, how might a “think the best, expect the best mindset” create something fresh and different?  Try it out and let me know what happens.  

Hint: One thing you can do to seek ongoing improvement would be to join the webinar I’m hosting on Wednesday, May 20–The Making and Mastering of Your Mindset And, if you’re an element c client, join us on May 27 for a special session to go deeper on this topic and develop a specific plan to shift a current mindset to one that creates growth and change in your life.