The Problem Solving Mindset — DP Mavia

How to train your Brain to produce a Mind.

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Dr. Carol Dweck is a Mindset expert. In she wrote the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006). The big takeaway in her groundbreaking work is the difference between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. Primarily the argument is, one mindset looks for ways of going around and avoiding challenges while the growth mindset embraces the challenge of scaling and solving problems.


Everyone who carries a hammer they will see every problem as a nail. In equal measure for everyone with a mind that embraces challenges they will anticipate to bite into solving whatever is thrown towards them. Problem solving is not to be seen as a heroic pursuit. Problem solving should be viewed as a skill that can be learned and mastered. At the center of problem solving is the exercise of the mind. Thinking should be horned as a muscle for survival in the frames of life. Each society has it’s own unique problems to solve therefore each society should develop in their education system a pedagogy that enriches a mindset of problem solving.

Context and Language

In our socialization there are things that fashion and pattern us into ways of thinking that can be huge detriment to solving challenges in our society. A Context is an environment that shapes and nurtures ways of thinking. Learning and data that shapes thinking can come through observation and modeling. Contexts are such spaces that can mold dependency or depravity in ways of thinking. I come from a culture that has a deep wound of dependency fostered by gross colonial scathing. Every time there is a problem to solve the default is to expect that someone else or a force from outside will intervene. This dependency malady is so chronic that aid and debt driven assistance has become the vital shaft in our ‘development’ agendas.

Apart from context, language as an instrument of imagination can be framed in such a manner that patterns out insufficiencies instead of affirmative energy to view oneself as a people to be depended on. It starts from the family, then friends, then school, then work. Our social settings can have hard-wired self-defeating vocabulary that demeans any attempt at personal or communal progress. It is so subtle that it shows up sometimes in our salutations — when you ask someone in my village ‘how are you today’ and they respond ‘I am just there’ being ‘just there’ is a response of dependency and resolved resignation — such is not a problem solving mindset.

Schooling vs Education

We say a school of fish. Fish survive on homogeneity. Schooling is pattern making. Schooling is sameness it kills and deters uniqueness. We put on uniforms and are activated by the external stimuli of bells. This is conditioning and any mind that makes an attempt to think otherwise spoils the pattern. Education should be geared to freedom, freedom of thinking and freedom to be curious. A curios mind or a mind of enquiry is a warmed up mind and like a warmed up engine is ready to explore and burn up energy to open up the mind’s eye. Schooling may teach you how to connect the dots but education teaches you how to create the dots. In many nations around the world education systems have been design to manufacture programmed ‘decent’ citizens. I am not encouraging law breaking but I am encouraging education that fosters the breaking of mental restrains. If you must go to school go but find a way of getting an education instead of mere learning.

A Thousand Miles …

There are many ways to nurture a mindset that solves problems but for the purposes of this writing we will take simple vital steps.

1. Adjust your Inner Conversations — somewhere in the middle of your mind there is a voice that lends you the good will to see yourself as a substantive responsible thinker. If you entertain conversations that saw down your noble humble milestones to challenge you mind you will be dwarfed always in the face of problems.

2. The fellowship of the Think — find books, material and people who will supply the file that will sharpen your edge. This is an exercise of humility. You are not developing a mind that looks down upon other ‘less thinking beings’ — you are developing a mind that accommodates even as it challenges or is challenged.

3. The principle of the first response — every time a challenge or a problem is thrown at you, learn to respond by first asking what opportunities lie in this challenge before you measure what it will cost you to master it. Opportunities secret door traps to golden mines that are hidden in plain sight.

A Daily Walk of Progress

The Problem solving mindset is built and nurtured it is a marathon it is a daily walk. You scale it daily so you must plan daily. Everyday must count; every munch able step should be attempted and embraced. The brain is a vehicle and a muscle of biology, therein is the energy to create a mind. If you exercise your brain you will fort out a mind, a thought process and a perspective. It is in your power to take a step to a new cerebral awakening every day.