I go to a lot of meetings.

I mean of course I do. Reporter-guy and all that, meetings goes along with all the other stuff. Following, I talk to a lot of people, lots and lots of people and, to bring this thing back full circle, I talk to a lot of people about what is about to or just did take place at this meetings.

So you have the people directly engaged in the meeting, the meeting environment. These are often those who have some role, vote on what’s being proposed, proposing something for vote, so forth. Let’s say these people are at the center. Then you get farther away from the center and yonder comes other people, people who are directly impacted by what’s going on at the meeting, the cost of X, the value of Y, and so forth. Then, finally, people well out from the center who feel compelled to give their opinion on what took place at the meeting, the value of the people near the center of the meeting and, sure, the value of the people who are impacted by the meeting.

Man, it’s a lot of conversations.

It’s a joy. In fact these conversations are the best part of the job. I’m a fairly personable guy and interacting with people for a living is what personable people like to do. So, okay, that. Because you can imagine, that some people are happy, giddy even, some people are disappointed, angry even, up to and including, in the rarest cases (thankfully), enraged.

Been doing some reading during the quarantine, got to watching some online instruction videos, discussions (that again) and so forth, and have come to an understanding which, as someone who talks to a lot of people coming from a lot of places with a lot of reactions, has come in very handy, very handy.

Here it is. Two kinds of people in this world: People with a fixed mindset, and people with a growth mindset.

And it comes down to this (and obviously, considering the number of books on the topic of fixed versus growth mindset, the most you’ll get here is an overview): People with a fixed mindset have it that what they got is what they got and that’s the entire equation. People with a growth mindset believe what they got is what they got, and they are capable of achieving more because life’s like that, it rewards you.

People with a fixed mindset, react unfailingly with fear/concern/rage even if someone’s trying to get in there and get their hands in and around their stuff. They only have so much stuff, they’re not going to get any more, so it’s up to them, by cracky, to make sure none of them other low-life chicken-stealin’ so-and-so goons take their stuff.

Growth mindset see things as an opportunity. Generally speaking everything before them is a chance to join in with some better plan for some better tomorrow. The stuff? You’re not wed to your stuff, it’s only stuff, more to the point there’s more stuff coming, better stuff, stuff that does more and cost less resources for doing it.

You look outside and see the sun rising: Here’s a chance to defend my stuff from getting taken away (or) here’s my chance to grow and prosper in all the ways humans can grow and prosper.

Now, to be honest, I wish I could tell you the “two kinds of people” thing applies to me 100 percent one way, that I’m a growth mindset guy, that yeah boy whatever’s going on better stuff is fixin’ to happen and all that.

Alas, no. Sometimes the fixed mindset creeps up on me. Sometimes I’m pretty sure someone’s coming to steal my chickens and how dare they and I’ll-be-darned-if-someone’s-going-to-take-my-chickens grrrr and all that.

And I have to remind myself at those moments, when I hear that mindset taking hold. And it’s not hard to remind myself, ‘cause when I hear that fearful internal dialogue it’s just me sounding like a jerk while I talk to myself. When I hear that, when I hear the cranky old man sound I have to remind myself what kind of place I live and work in, and look forward to that next sunrise.

Those people in those meetings, often as not, are like that. Heck the reason they got in a position where they’re in a meeting, at the center, is because they want to participate in a better, prosperous, more plentiful world than the one they started out in. And you can tell, emanating out from the center, who shares the growth mindset with them, the ones who come from a place of achievement and, yes, on the opposite, the ones who come from a place of fear.

Alex Kienlen is editor of the Van Buren County Democrat.

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