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  • Kristin Raack

The Joy of a Growth Mindset

I’ve never met him, but there’s this guy that I keep seeing around my neighborhood who inspires me. And, I hope his story will encourage you as a nonprofit leader or volunteer.


This 40-ish man is quite memorable. Not because of his physical appearance, which is actually quite ordinary. Instead, it’s his actions that caught my attention: this grown man has used the long pandemic season to learn to skateboard. He wears a helmet, as well as protective gear on his knees, elbows, and wrists. He can be found on the smoother streets around town, honing his skills.


He spends hours every week skateboarding up and down the various blocks of our community. At first, he focused on the basics. Recently I’ve noticed that he’s trying more advanced moves. He’s still not as fast or as flashy at the kids who hang out at the local skateboard park, but he has made great improvements.



I can’t help but admire his courage. His consistency. And frankly, his commitment to safety regardless of his appearance. After observing him through these long months, he’s now one of my heroes.


How often have I shied away from being a beginner because I’m nervous about how I’ll look?


How many times have I been interested in pursuing a growth opportunity—personal or professional—but made excuses instead of making the time to do it?


I’m guessing that I’m not alone. This man, who I like to think of as “Skater Dude,” reminds all of us of the joy that can come from starting something new… and perhaps even something unexpected.


When Carol Dweck first introduced the term "growth mindset" to the educational field, she probably wasn't thinking about middle-aged men trying new hobbies. But, Skater Dude is my favorite example of growth mindset: the belief that we can embrace challenges and grow.


You don't need a skateboard to try growth mindset for yourself. You might:

- Offer to lead a new committee at your organization

- Use a new software tool to include graphics on your donor impact report

- Ask someone to mentor you

- Attend a presentation or conference on best practices that are new to you


Here's to embracing new challenges!


Chat back…

What might you do this week that is out of your comfort zone and leads to growth?


Interested in learning more?