Excepts from Saulos Chilima’s Mind Set change lecture

Maravi Express

“People believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe talent alone creates success — without effort. They are wrong.

“When students come to understand that learning can rewire the brain and increase their intelligence, they often become more interested in learning and less afraid to do things that might make them ‘look dumb’. In other words, they develop a growth mindset.

“Growth mindset is about growth, not just about effort. Having a growth mindset (the belief that you are in control of your own ability, and can learn and improve) is the key to success.

“Yes, hard work, effort and persistence are all important, but not as important as having that underlying belief that you are in control of your own destiny.

Mindset change; Chilima at fundraising golf for
war veterans same Friday

1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections. 2. View challenges as opportunities;

3. Try different learning tactics;

4. Follow the research on brain plasticity;

5. Replace the word ‘failing’ with the word ‘learning’;

6. Stop seeking approval;

7. Value the process over the end result;

8. Cultivate a sense of purpose;

9. Celebrate growth with others;

10. Emphasise growth over speed;

11. Reward actions, not traits;

12. Redefine ‘genius’;

13. Portray criticism as positive;

14. Disassociate improvement from failure;

15. Provide regular opportunities for reflection;

16. Place effort before talent;

17. Highlight the relationship between learning and ‘brain training’;

18. Cultivate grit;

19. Abandon the image;

20. Use the word ‘yet’;

21. Learn from other people’s mistakes;

22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished;

23. Take risks in the company of others;

24. Think realistically about time and effort;

25. Take ownership over your attitude.

“The departure from one’s common or usual thinking style. The change in your beliefs or something in your mind. You can change your mind.”

How is mindset created?

“Professor Dweck has noted that many people are trained in either fixed or growth mindset since childhood, either through the way they are raised or through learning experiences.

“For example, students who are trained to look smart instead of developing a passion for learning tend to develop a fixed mindset. These students end up being more concerned with how they are being judged and are paranoid, especially that they may not live up to expectations.”

Can midset be changed?

“It has often been stated that Malawians need serious mindset change for the country to develop. But no one has explained how. The question still remains: —how can Malawians change their mindset in order to prosper?

“Well, while people with a fixed mindset might not agree, research has shown that people are capable of changing their mindsets. A mindset is not cast in stone.

“As stated earlier, growth mindset is the belief that all abilities are trainable; that nothing is fixed. In this case, we need to have a firm belief that Malawi cannot be rated as a poor country forever.

“We need to believe that we can change the status quo through persistent and adaptive effort. We can transform our country from prosperity to poverty.”

How is mindset sustained?

“The theme of the Third Malawi Growth and Development Strategy Paper (MGDSP III) is ‘building a productive, competitive and resilient Nation’.

“In this case, we are lucky that we have a very clear vision. The question is how do we realise and sustain this vision. Let us take an example of the mindset of the Israelis.

“Remember what God said to the Jews in Genesis 12:2? — “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others”.

“It is such belief; such mindset of becoming a great Nation that has driven and sustained the State of Israel to be what it is today.


“Look at the Asian Tigers, for example, especially Singapore — it is basically their multiracialism and unity of purpose for national development that has propelled Singaporeans to a quantum leap from a poor to a rich Nation.

“Singapore has a handful of natural resources but takes full advantage of those few that this Island City State has. Today, Singapore is widely regarded to have an incorrupt and meritocratic government, with a fair judiciary and strong rule of law.”

What are the friend of a positive mindset?

“You have possibly heard the saying that ‘you become who you spend time with’. Why do you think that sons of footballers or daughters of netballers usually also become footballers and netballers, respectively?

“Is it by coincidence or mindset that a child of an artist also becomes an artist? Of course, some will argue that it is genetic.

“The point I am making is that positive thinking yields positive outcome. As a matter of fact, the secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.

“Mahatma Gandhi was on point when he said ‘we become what we repeatedly do. Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny’.

“There are several mindsets that will radically improve your career, your business and your life. Some of the seven most commonly cited mindsets by psychologists are self-trust mindset; goal-setting mindset;

patience mindset; courageous mindset; focused mindset; positive mindset; learning mindset.

“This is why I am inspired by the Gospel in Philippians 4:8, which says that ‘whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’.

“Believe me — good friends and good manners will carry you where money will not go.”

Who will like or dislike change and why?

“It is human nature that we both crave change and loath it, depending on the situation. Of course, you cannot fix what is not broken. However, there is a popular mantra that change is the only real constant.

“By and large, most people resist change, especially when it is imposed upon them without their input. Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage or outright rebellions.

“To understand how to handle resistance to change, it is important to appreciate the predictable and common reasons why people resist change in a particular situation and then strategize around them.

“Some of the most common reasons for resistance to change are: loss of control; excess uncertainty, people fear being different — especially when there’s no precedent; people feel overwhelmed or stressed; people fear a departure from the status quo; people lack trust in the one making changes; concerns about competence — people know change brings a new set of possibilities and problems; and concerns about ripple effects.

“Therefore, to be able to change the mindset of people, you need to earn their trust and move with one purpose of direction. No one has explained this point better than Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who said ‘leadership is a two-way street; loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew’.”


Mindset change of consolidation — or both?

“It is correct to say that your mindset is the most important single ingredient in the formula of success. However, it is not accurate to say that it is the only ingredient. You also need a SMART plan, disciplined work ethic and strategy.

“Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. We learn from a pair of oxen that they need to work in harmony with a single aim if they are to successfully pull a cart up the hill.

“We have also learnt from Singapore that a country must lay aside its differences and unite as a single nation if it is to be successful and prosperous.

“Likewise, in politics, a political party must unite behind a single vision and with unity of purpose if it is to gain the confidence of the electorate, win votes and beat its opposition.

“This is why the Tonse philosophy, which is a governing philosophy, says: ‘we either build together or crumble together’. We thus learn that in life, success and prosperity can be achieved through unity of purpose, discipline and determined mindset.”

Obsession with trivia

“In groups (especially on social media), there is a growing tendency for people to comment on trivia or silly things only. The majority are coy to comment on substantive issues.

“As a result, the amount of time spent on trivia is much more than that which is spent life-changing ideas.

“ENVY (tifanane, akuti a kukhala ngati ndani) — very common in many sectors of society in Malawi. A serious vice and one of the 7 cardinal sins.”

Other areas he touched included ‘Opportunistic Tendencies’ — the willingness to be paraded on TV to justify or defend silly things and get paid for it when the country can ill afford to pay its own workforce, pay for drugs, pay for genuine work.

Man-made crises (panic triggers) — Typical when people want to steal. They only want to procure when there is an impending crisis and in the absence of one, they will unashamedly create an opportunity.

Argumentum ad Hominem fallacy — Obsession with individuals and not what they say or preach.

Manifestation of retrogressive mindsets — In the journey of life for all God’s creation and for generations past and future, leaders play a very important role in shaping the direction that the followership should take.

Adoration/worship of leaders — Malawi professes herself as a God fearing nation. The country’s National Anthem is a prayer in itself, an invocation to God for His intervention. The first of God’s 10 Commandments (as given to Moses at Mount Sinai) is, just like the others, not a multiple choice: “you shall have no other gods before me.”

Glorification of thieves — Likewise, the 8th Commandment prohibits us from stealing: “Thou Shall Not Steal.” Over the years, leaders and their cronies have come into power, stolen our money while we watched and joined them in the plunder under the guise of the ‘bigman syndrome’ munthu wamkulu (in other settings munthu wamkulu refers to a witch/wizard).

Politics of stupidity — Malawi embraced democracy and since then, ascending to political leadership is a competitive process. Candidates and political parties campaign to get into power and lead. The emphasis is ‘to lead’.

Greed and corruption — There are very few people who don’t agree that corruption is rampant in Malawi. We actually have a special day where we join hands and congregate to preach against it.

Greed and corruption

We assemble annually in different corners of the country and in unison, speak against this vice. When people deliver their statements at such functions, one would think that corruption would end the following day.

Abuse of women and youth — Statistics show that 51 percent of Malawi population are women (National Statistics Office, 2018). Statistics also show that majority of the population are youth.

“What this means is that the human resource is dominated by women and youth and any under-utilisation of this constituency of the population has negative impact on the economy.”

The fate of culture — Some cultural practices have long term effects and have surely contributed to stagnation in different communities.

The entitlement disorder — Mind-set that makes people feel a sense of entitlement to free or heavily subsidized public services has derailed progress.

Rules of origin (Wathu-siwathu temperament) — Mind-set that makes people feel a sense of entitlement to free or heavily subsidized public services has derailed progress.

Obsession with negativity — Poor mind-set gets preoccupied with negativity.

The Stockholm Syndrome — A condition which causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity.

Obsession with lies — Living a lie is a dangerous trait and quite common in society.

Abuse of public resources — Against simple logic that satisfactory service delivery is the best election campaign, we have as a nation politics that believes in mediocrity and handouts.


Religion — Prior to the 1993 referendum, the religious bodies were perhaps the most trusted entity to the extent that whatever they said was deemed Gospel truth.

Syndrome of white collar jobs — One colonial legacy that Africa is yet to deal with is the belief that white collar jobs pay well, are secure and provide conducive working environment.

Coronavirus alert

A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things. Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

There is no passion to be found in playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. You cannot solve problems using the same kind of thinking you used when you created them.

The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations — It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

The key is “not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but rather to schedule your priorities.”