An Infinite Frontier

A frontier is the outer limit of what has been explored.

In 1867, Alaska became “America’s Last Frontier”. It’s great distance from the lower 48 states, remote landscape, rugged terrain, and intense climate contributed to its frontier status.

In 1965 NASA began the Gemini project, proving not just a safe travel to space, but also the ability to dock a vehicle and exit safely into the cosmos.

In 1966, further curiosity of space brought us the wildly imaginative, science-fiction TV show, Star Trek, and space became “The Final Frontier”. As new discoveries were taking place, limitations of the mind were stretching. Curiosity arose about the complexity and wonder of this sea of galaxies above us.

Then, in 1969, Neil Armstrong traveled to the moon. “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” he said. It was his small physical step that allowed the world to bear witness to possible further steps, erasing boundary lines of limitation, making even greater possibilities available to all of humanity.

When individuals come together with the belief that there is so much more to know about the earth, the human race, and the individual self, a frontier becomes a portal to greater understanding, not a fence to keep us safe from harm.

A frontier represents a current limitation, not an eternal one. It signals a boundary line that has yet to be crossed. The uncharted territory we call a frontier, is nothing to be feared, it was is designed to be an adventure of exploration. And how we perceive a frontier reveals the mindset we operate out of.

A Fixed Mindset says intelligence is static and does not change. Challenges are avoided, giving up comes easy, efforts are seen as fruitless, and negative feedback is ignored with an unwillingness to perceive it as useful.

A Growth Mindset says intelligence can be developed. Challenges are embraced, setbacks only usher in greater persistence, all efforts are seen as the path to mastery, and criticism becomes a resource to learn and grow from.

A Fixed Mindset fuses beliefs, cementing ways and methods of operation, even in hopes of obtaining new results. A Growth Mindset believes there is more, holding beliefs loosely in hopes of learning new, more meaningful, ways of operation.

I am grateful for the growth mindset of scientists, doctors, and psychologists – the writers, dreamers and innovators – who dedicate their lives to searching for more. Fixed mindsets don’t find cures for cancer. Fixed mindsets don’t continue experimenting with the hope of new discoveries.  Fixed mindsets are exactly that, fixed.

So what of the spiritual frontier? Is there so much more to know, or do we have all we ever need to know?

Well, that would depend on what mindset you operate out of.

If you believe that new truths will continue to emerge as we continue to evolve, the spiritual frontier becomes a vast ocean of unheard of wonders, insurmountable awe, a sea of hope for the betterment of all mankind. This would represent a Growth Mindset.

If you believe that we have been given all we ever need to know, the spiritual frontier becomes a final plateau – leveled out at the highest understanding possible, unchangeable and inerrant. This would represent a Fixed Mindset.

What I love about universal truths is that we can apply them to everything and they still hold value. When we look at behaviors and responses (not religious belief, political stance, or other adopted truths), analyzing the quality and health they produce, we can discover what kind of mindset we are operating out of.

In our home, we maintain a growth mindset by allowing each person the freedom to express themselves; we take into consideration the ever-changing needs of each family member; and we honor any and all voiced concerns.

Recently, we looked at our own spiritual frontier, discussing where our beliefs came from, what we believe now, and how we want to continue growing in our faith.

Having a Growth Mindset affords us a humility of knowing we will never “arrive” at a full understanding of God or each other while here on this earth. A Growth Mindset keeps us curious, desiring to know more. And the more we trust that God is in all places and in all things, the more fully we are able to see God within humanity.

Having a Growth Mindset within the frontier of spirituality, humanity then becomes a vast ocean filled with unheard of wonders, insurmountable awe, and unlimited resources. 

M

(Ideas discussed are taken from the work of Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D, author of The Growth Mindset)

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