Your mindset determines your life

“Pick yourself up after a fall and you will never lose”- from my daughter.

Key takeaways:
– “I don’t perform because of others.”- this is your worst enemy in your life.
– Blaming someone else is a lot easier to explain own failure.
– Human brain likes to pick a scapegoat, so you keep comforting yourself; self-comforting.
– It’s not that people don’t mind your behaviour. It’s that people will not work with you next time!

I am a professor in a university so I come across different types of students all the time. Nowadays, students are becoming our ‘customers’, so I also need to pay attention to my ‘services’ to students. Satisfaction of students is now an important matter for most universities. OK, I know… time has changed. Students rate my ‘services’ at the end of each semester and provide all sorts of feedback. Of course, some are quite rubbish such as “exams were too hard…”. Well, it’s meant to be hard, son!

A student in my class last year was struggling and I could see that mid-way through the semester. I tried to talk to that student but he hadn’t shown up in the class for weeks. I always have a policy that I never take attendance records of students because I believe it’s students’ responsibility and choice to attend a class in a university; it’s not my duty to force them to come to my classroom, if they don’t feel like to.

Two weeks before submitting the final report, the student finally approached me. However, it’s too late because there was too much to catch up by the student. He managed to finish his report and submitted to me. In a series of email exchange with the student before submitting his report, it came to my attention that he didn’t think I, as the professor in charge, provided ‘enough’ attention to his situation. The student indicated that there was not sufficient tutorial time for him to learn. Well, 50% of the time of that course was spent in the computer lab. Not enough tutorial time? You gotta be kidding me.

It’s other people’s fault, according to that student.

That’s OK because it’s a lot easier to blame someone else for failure. It’s also the nature of our brain that we keep finding a scapegoat (or an excuse) to ‘justify’ our actions or behaviour. This self-comforting tendency is deeply rooted in human brains, but this mindset can kill someone’s future. How many times have you found an excuse not to go to the gym (although you know that you should!)? How many times have you told yourself that drinking that can of coke is not going to cause weight issues because you will burn it by walking (and then you drive…..)?

It’s OK for me to work with these types of students. It’s not that I don’t mind their behaviour or their poor attitude. I do, be honest. However, I’ve learned after years of working with people that when someone has such a mindset, people do mind but they may not shut the door immediately. What I do is to ensure that those people with poor mindset or attitude will never re-appear on my radar and I choose not to work with them again in the future. It’s a waste of my time.

Receiving services (or lectures in a university) is good but we’d better respect service providers and be grateful about services. Once you are grateful in mind, then you will show that in your actions. This feedback makes people happy and provide better services. I, as the ‘service provider’ will do a better job when students are engaged and eager to learn. When a student ‘demands’ me to teach him so he can learn well, then it’s no longer a good balance because the student is not contributing to learning. Learning is a two-way communication, not buying a product from the shelf. This is the same for many aspects of our lives when we work with people.

If you get the right mindset, then it reflects on your behaviour. Then, people would like to work with you. This makes you happier and more successful, too. So, don’t break the cycle but keep the cycling running.

Dr. C. Richard Wu @

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