A few weeks ago, on Shul Politics, I wrote about the valuable role our friends serve as both active and passive spiritual growth coaches. I feel fortunate to have a few offline friends that serve that role, including David Linn, with whom I’m working on an exciting new project. Between our Pomodoros we often discuss general and specific growth issues.
Through the years, especially when commenting was heavier here on Beyond BT, there have been a number of people who have been spiritual growth coaches, whether they realized it or not. One of them, who I’m still in contact with, (mainly through email) is Neil Harris who often recommends seforim, shiurim and secular books. In a post last month, discussing growth, Neil referenced a book, called Mindset, by Stanford and Columbia researcher Dr. Carol Dweck.
Mindset discusses two different lenses in which we view life, one in which our characteristics and situations are seen as fixed and the other in which we look at growth and improvement in every characteristic and situation. Dr. Dweck illustrates in many different fields and situations the detriment of the fixed mindset and the tremendous value of the growth mindset.
The book gave me an insight in to the plateauing or spiritual stagnation that many BTs and FFBs experience. For BTs, after our initial interest is awakened we work towards a goal of being Frum. The end state of being Frum consists of keeping Shabbos, family purity, davening regularly, keeping other mitzvos and learning Torah. When we’re in the process of becoming Frum, we’re in a growth mindset, but when we actually reach the observance level of Being Frum, we tend to enter more of a fixed mindset which slows (or stops) growth.
Perhaps the solution is to see Torah Observance in a mindset of always trying to become Frummer, i.e. growing spiritually, as opposed to being Frum, a fixed mindset. The difficulty is that we often talk about where people are (i.e. not Frum, Frum, Very Frum), and not they’re going (or growing). Thanks to Dr. Dweck for her important research and insights, and for giving us the opportunity to reframe from a fixed mindset of being Frum, to a growth mindset of always becoming Frummer.