Little Joys Can Add Up to A Big Mindset Change

Updated: Feb 21

Goonies never say die! The Goonies is one of my all-time favorite movies! It’s got pirates and secret treasures and adventure. It was everything 10-year old Will could ask for, circa 1985. As an adult, though, I love this movie even more because of the lessons it provides.


If you haven’t seen it (get out of my life right now), the movie starts with a family about to lose their house - until the kids and their friends take matters into their own hands. They follow a treasure map to One-Eyed Willy lost treasure ship, navigating through “booty traps” and narrowly escaping the clutches of the Fratelli family. All the while Chunk is making a new best friend in Sloth who teaches the viewer the importance of not judging a book by its cover.


What makes this movie such a classic is that as kids we believe in the impossible. We believe in the treasure map, the pirates, the gold. We whole-heartedly believe that if we set goals and put our minds to it, we can do ANYTHING, even after the adults have given up. As kids, life hasn’t beaten us down, and we’re not victims yet. Our little minds and hearts are primed to learn and grow and explore and take on the world.


Ohhhh do I see it in my toddler son, Wyatt. He’s anything but a victim to this world. He’s a natural growth owner in that his life is 100% geared toward experiencing as much joy and excitement as he can squeeze out of each day. He sets toddler-sized goals without even thinking about it and squeals with excitement when he accomplishes them (jumping over puddles, building tall lego towers or running as fast as he can). He doesn’t sit and ponder “what if I can’t.” He just leaps.


So what happens? How do we go from being Goonies, aka growth owners, one day - exploring, adventuring and believing in ourselves - to victims of self-doubt and sabotage the next?


Every day, we are influenced by so many people. Parents, teachers, peers, bosses, siblings - the list goes on and on. Most mean well but they’ve lost their Goonie spirit. They’ve stopped seeing the world as theirs to conquer and have started seeing it as something to guard and protect themselves from. They begin to project that self-doubt and fear onto kids, and the vicious cylcle continues with the next generation.


Remember the toddler goals and accomplishments I said Wyatt squeals with excitement about? What if what he heard in response was:

“Don’t you dare try to jump over that puddle. You’ll never make it.”

“That’s high enough with those legos.

When they crash, they are going to make a mess!”

“No running! You could trip and fall.”


It’s not far-fetched is it? These are things that have been said to us hundreds of times in our lives and we may have even said to our own kids. If I say those things, next time Wyatt will think twice, won’t he? And if he does fall, instead of getting up and trying again because he’s got his eye on the prize, he’ll blame himself.


What if I encouraged him instead? Or if I had to intervene, said:

“Today is not a day for puddles. Let’s walk around them.”

“You’ve got 30 seconds to build your legos as high as you can and then it’s time to clean up so you can build even higher ones next time!”

“Skipping only today! We’ll run later.”


These differences are subtle, right? But Wyatt no longer hears “You can’t. You’re not good enough. You’re clumsy.”


For you and I though, we’ve already heard these things so many times we believe them. So what can we do? Well, the first thing is to realize that it’s up to us to determine how this movie ends. It all starts with shifting away from what I call our lower-self, driven by that fixed-victim mindset, and letting our higher-self, driven by our inner Goonie aka growth-owner, take control.


For this week’s action tip, think of three things that you LOVED doing as a kid. Bonus points if they give you even the smallest sense of accomplishment. Building success habits in your mindset can start as small as building a house of cards. Over time, you’ll remember that these little goals and actions bring you so much joy. And that will help lead you to the higher-self you were meant to be. You can even reward yourself with a “Baby Ruth.”