Resilience builds the growth mindset


What does it take to become a world class surfer? Would you expect, when you first start, to be able to get on the board and then simply ride the waves as seen in the picture above? Or would you expect to be wiped out, over and over again? Of course, you know the answer to that. In fact, in the beginning, it would seem that one would be off the board much longer than one is on it. But the key trait is to never give up. If one is wiped out, one gets back onto the board, and gets back out there. The ability to Bounce Back from an ignominious wipe out is the ONLY way that one can become a world class surfer. Over time, the surfer learns how to shift his/her weight with the change in the wave angle and speed, to be able to plant one's feet firmly on the board as though it were glued to them and to conquer the surging energy of the sea. These come with countless hours of being wiped out, bouncing back and being wiped out again. The key is not to give up; it is to learn, adjust and go at it again.


In my previous article, I wrote that Learning is the key growth mindset Dimension. Today, I will discuss Bounce Back, the next dimension to support the growth mindset in people. Indeed, without be able to pick oneself up from a fall, dust oneself and try again, one might never be able to learn.



TEFCAS

I learnt of the method called TEFCAS from my good friend, Tony Buzan (May God rest his soul). As you may know, Tony was a Learning Guru and the inventor of the Mind Map, the visual tool that allows you to take everything in on one sheet of paper. It appeals to the whole brain, something that mere words cannot do. I met Tony in 2001 and after sharing with him how I earned my MBA using Mind Maps, he invited me to become his licensed instructor. Yet Tony did not simply create a learning tool, he also created the mindset that came along with using that tool. In fact, he had a process called TEFCAS, which to this day, I not only adopt, but also teach. TEFCAS is Tony's Bounce Back method for learning.


Once the ball is thrown, it will fly along its own trajectory; sometimes landing on the other hand, many times onto the floor, and yet other times, onto your friend's head. Whatever happens, that is an Event.

T refers to Try-all (or Trial). This means to learn something new, you need to Trial the process - and Try-all ways! He normally taught a class to juggle, and we typically saw people being able to juggle within a 3-hour time frame. To learn to juggle, one must at least Try to throw the ball(s) in the air. If one was afraid to do that - for whatever reason - one would never learn to juggle.

Next comes Event. Once the ball is thrown, it will fly along its own trajectory; sometimes landing on the other hand, many times onto the floor, and yet other times, onto your friend's head. Whatever happens, that is an Event. Something that has occurred.


Next comes F. Normally, when Tony introduced F, he would pause, waiting for the class to fill in what it meant, and invariably, everyone would say "failure". That is where he would correct them and say, "No, it is Feedback." So, the Event - be it the ball falling on the ground or successfully landing onto the other hand - provided us with information. It is the Feedback that we get from the Event.


This allows us to Check where we went wrong, or where we went right. It allows us to ascertain if we threw the ball with too much force, or too little; or if the pitch and yaw angles were off. This in turn allows us to Adjust our inputs and then Try again.


This becomes an iterative process, from Try, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust and then Try, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust again. Each iterative loop allows us to get closer to becoming a master juggler, until finally, we get Success, whatever that Success is to us.


by adopting the TEFCAS process, we insulate ourselves from the ignominy of being "wrong" or of being a "failure", building up our Bounce Back ability.

You can see that by adopting the TEFCAS process, we insulate ourselves from the ignominy of being "wrong" or of being a "failure", building up our Bounce Back ability.


Tony Buzan was a genius Growth Mindset thinker long before the concept became fashionable. His TEFCAS process is a key tool to build resilience, not just in learning, but also in life. Because if we view any outcome of a Trial as simply an Event that gives us Feedback, then technically, there is no failure. But of course we have seen failure, and to say that there is none is delusional.


But even if it does, so what? We live to fight another day. We learn from this failure, and we pick ourselves up and go at it in another way. That is how we build Bounce Back.

So where does failure come from? When we stop Trying. When we throw in the towel too early. When

we give up. That's when failure comes in. But even if it does, so what? We live to fight another day. We learn from this failure, and we pick ourselves up and go at it in another way. That is how we build Bounce Back.


Celebrating a great friendship - the author with Tony Buzan in 2008


The 5 C's

There is another system that I use to develop Bounce Back, and that is the 5C's. This is not so much a process as TEFCAS is but a set of factors that help develop Bounce Back. These are:


Luck cannot be replicated. But if you are competent, you will be able to produce the outcome consistently over time.

(1) Competence. Back to surfing. The reason why you cannot stay on the board long enough when you are first learning the ropes is because you don't yet know everything. Your competence, your skill, is not high enough. Hence, you need to work on that. Just as in any activity, if you don't know how to do something, you will not be able to pull it off. Sure, you may get lucky and stay on the surf board longer than you had ever done, but you won't be able to continue that. Luck cannot be replicated. But if you are competent, you will be able to produce the outcome consistently over time. This of course relies on our Learning dimension to build.


(2) Character. To some extent, we need to have a humble character to accept that we don't know what we don't know, and to consistently go at it until we become proficient. If we are the type who easily gives up, then we would not be able to build the appropriate competencies required to get the job done. We will touch on this again when we talk about the Pride Dimension, but suffice it to say for now that we need to have a positive learning character to accept that we don't know what we don't know, and to go about finding that out.


even when we take a hit and fall, our confidence will energise our next steps, even if we do not know exactly what those steps are.

(3) Confidence. With both Competence and Character, our Confidence grows. And even when we take a hit and fall, our confidence will energise our next steps, even if we do not know exactly what those steps are. Of course, we have seen it happen before; that once-confident people take a hit too many times and lose that confidence. Once that happens, they will see their will to Try again fade, and this is where they fall into despair. Nothing is happening because there is now a lack of confidence. This requires the next C.


(4) Connections. No man is an island, no man stands alone. This is true both in life and in business. I have never seen a successful businessman succeed all on his own. One's Connections are more important when one falls than when one is ahead. Seek new perspectives, new ideas and new opportunities from your connections. The worst thing you can do is to pull away from them during these times; something that most people are wont to do when they have fallen and perceive themselves as "failures". That is just the opposite of what we must do to Bounce Back! Seek your connections if just to commiserate. It would give you a different perspective.


The worst thing you can do is to pull away from (your connections) during these times; something that most people are wont to do when they have fallen and perceive themselves as "failures".


(5) Coping. Lastly, when all else fails, turn to your own specific coping mechanisms. For us, the easiest and fastest way to overcome the gloomy outlook is to get rid of the stress that is causing it. When we are under stress, hormones like cortisol (in our brain) and adrenaline (in our body) are coursing through. This makes us very edgy, and it tends to shut down executive functions. The only way to overcome that is to get it out of our system through physical exercise. I, for one, will run. You can go play ball, tennis, squash, swim, or cycle rigorously. You can even go to the trampoline park or the gym and do HIIT. Whatever you like, the key is to sweat it out for 30minutes or so every day. This will flush out the adrenaline and cortisol, and replace them with endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Couple more plusses that comes with this - not only can you start looking at things differently (less gloomy), you also become healthier and arrive closer to your ideal weight. And this is important, because in a situation where you think that you have no control, here is something where you can grasp ascendancy. And that will build back your confidence, which will allow you to pull yourself out of the rut.



It supports the growth mindset

As a Dimension of the growth mindset, Bounce Back is a very important supporter that builds on the Learning, Risk Taking and Forward dimensions. Indeed, without it, one is unable to uncover new knowledge through action. One will be deeply rooted in the status quo, daring to move ONLY when one is fully confident and sure of success. Yet, how can one be 100% sure of anything. That does not exist. Instead, one needs to go out there and find out for oneself, and that requires one to Risk being wrong, to Risk being laughed at, to Risk being labelled a "failure". But you and I know, there is no such thing as "failure" while one is on the road of discovery. We Try, it leads us to an Event, which provides Feedback, we then Check our inputs, our steps, and we Adjust, leading to another Trial. And step by step, we inch closer to success.


This is the path to growth, the path to learning, the path to success. And it is undergirded by our resilience, our Bounce Back-ability!


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