Growth mindset and the gift of criticism

Have you ever received critique that you were happy and grateful to hear? What was unique about that criticism? It is likely that the main ingredient of a successful critique, is a healthy relationship between the two parties. But there is another crucial factor – critique that is solicited, is much more likely to be well received.  When we think we were doing well, we aren’t too happy to hear otherwise. But when we embark on acquiring a new skill, we admit that we don’t know. This allows us to maintain a growth mindset. We want to expand our capabilities, and so we are happy and grateful for helpful critique.

If a person develops one skill set, and never seeks to grow, they will not see their lack in other areas as true deficiencies. They say: “true I can’t play guitar, but that’s because I never tried.” A growth-oriented person however, will always look ahead to new horizons. They are excited by the thought that there is a new skill or level to master. Instead of fleeing from feelings of inadequacy, they embrace them. This week’s parshah, brings out this concept in a very powerful way.  

Eisav was born with all the hair of a mature adult, and was therefore called Eisav, from the root of asui, to be done. Yaakov on the other hand, relates to eikev – the heel – the lowest point in the human being. Attached to eikev is the letter yud, which changes the tense of a word from present to future.   

Eisav sees himself as self-sufficient. Yes, he was created by Hashem, but as an independent free-willed being, he sees no reason to look back to his source. Yaakov on the other hand, recognized that he was always in the midst of climbing the ladder back to heaven. He is the eikev (heel), but his eye is always directed ahead to the future heights he could climb. Knowing and contemplating his source and beginning – Hashem – allowed Yaakov to see the potential of the future.

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