Thursday, October 21, 2021

Orientation program at the Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad

Dr. Anuradha Jonnalagadda and Dr Sivaraju called me earlier this week and asked me if I would do an orientation lecture. I was glad to because orientation classes set the right expectations, goals and approach. 

The talk from 2016.

Purpose of the Orientation Class - 
To help maximize student's learning in the two year course and gain knowledge and expertise to jump start their career.

Analogy of an ocean and the student

The analogy of a student standing before the ocean (comprising the University, faculty, knowledge available) and being limited only by the ability to receive. The challenge now is how to receive as much as one can.


1) Take 100% responsibility for your life and career - (measure - when you blame and give excuses you are not taking 100% responsibility) 

2) Be secure - know what you know and what you don't know (I know/ I don’t know). Our insecurity comes form trying to hide what we don’t know and behaving like we know.It takes up a lot of our creative energy to  hide the fact that we don't know. Instead, if we accept that we do not know and Ask questions, seek help, or raise doubts, your learning accelerates.

'I don't know' is the accelerator. 

2) To achieve your potential follow the Learning Mindset - A powerful concept by Dr Carol Dweck (read her book 'Mindset')

Characteristics of Fixed and Growth/Learning Mindset 

Fixed Mindset Characteristics

Growth Mindset Characteristics

Desire to look smart (I know, so no effort, belief in fixed talent and intelligence)

Desire to learn (ask questions, only goal is to learn)

Avoid challenges (fear of failure)

Embrace challenges (there's nothing failure, it's all learning))

Give up easily (don’t want to look foolish)

Persist in the face of setback (don't give up when faced with a problem)

Get defensive (closed to feedback)

Seek help to find ways to improve (be open to feedback)

See effort as fruitless (effort is for those who are not smart, talented, gifted)

See effort as the path to mastery (put more effort to get over weak areas)

Ignore useful negative feedback (no growth)

Learn from criticism

Feel threatened by others successes

Find lessons and inspiration from others success (learn)

Plateau early and achieve less than their full potential

Reach even higher levels of achievement as a result and get closer to potential

The learning mindset is about hard work, high standards and process orientation.

In every way, the growth mindset frees the student. One can ask questions, engage in discussions, seek help without inhibitions, accept that one does not know everything. By adopting this mindset, students can take a huge self-imposed pressure off their shoulders and look to build on what they know.

To change from a Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset 1) ask for help 2) do small acts that change things 3) work on belief and mindsets 4) get process orientation 5) get over the-world-owes-me and denial (as in my life is perfect syndrome).

The beliefs that anything can be learned with hard work and growth orientation, that intelligence is not fixed, are truly empowering.

Resources at your disposal - Time and Energy

Time - 700 days plus, 1 hour a day vs 10 hours a day (700 hours vs 7000 hours)

Energy - Your energy is a factor of the  context you set yourself. If you tell yourself you have a great life and an exciting opportunity you will have lots of energy. If you tell yourself you have a sad life, bad deal and lousy opportunities, your energy will be low. So set and reset your stories every day.

Save your best energy for your most important task in these two years i.e. learning. All else has to be secondary. Have discussions around craft, ask questions, learn new things. Create a high energy space around you.

Use your resources well

Practices to follow

1) Get a journal and write your learning every day
2) Set goals for the two  years - gold medal, some specific goal to achieve that's big and that helps you achieve your career goals

3) Practice the Learning mindset - Ask questions, Engage in discussions on craft and subject with teachers and peers, Meet new people, Network with seniors, Practice and perform

4) Engage in Deliberate practice – quantity and quality of practice (getting better at what one is good and expanding current skills and also getting better at what one is not good at with specific sustained effort). It includes getting mentors who can help and guide. It make it clear that champions work the hardest.

5) Start new Routines and Habits – (2 minute rule - if you can do something for two minutes do it - like do one exercise routine for 2 minutes which is better than not doing anything at all) 


Hard work is the first commitment one has to make. The next step is working hard efficiently. 

Since you have all committed to a 2 year journey and are now at a stage where you could use the knowledge of the faculty, the brand of the University to your advantage, you are advised to use the resources i.e. time and energy efficiently, understand current context and then seek a clear outcome in terms of what you want to achieve. Your calendars must be packed with things to learn, people to meet, events to attend and to volunteer, performances to give etc. Once the calendar is packed, get down to doing it.

Here one must share the lovely TED talk by Josh Kaufman on 'The First 20 Hours - How to Learn Anything'.

Good luck.

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