My Grandfather’s Growth Mindset

About a year ago, my grandfather passed away from cancer. Yesterday my mom dug up this email from him.

The email leads with an almost comical progression of increasingly bad news. At first he’s talking about a few cells. Then a huge lump. Then more cancer that they’re just going to overlook. Then that other cancer he forgot to mention from earlier in the year.

But the final two sentences are astounding.

I must bring you up-to-date on my condition. I do not remember whether or not I told you that I had cancer. I was to the doctor today to get my schedule of treatments. I will be operated on around the 23rd. I should not be in the hospital very long. The cells are in front of my right ear. There is a big lump there. The operation will effect my talking and of course my face. I will be getting radiology for the next five weeks after that which will also have a effect on a lot of other things. I also have some cancer in my right lung which they are not going to worry about at this time. I have had cancer in my bladder that was scraped out earlier this year. Actually, after talking to the doctor I think I can beat this thing. I just have to work at it.

That idea, which most people call growth mindset, that the outcome of your life is not fixed and that you have control — that’s the most powerful idea in the world. Huge thanks to my grandfather and family for passing that on to me.

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