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The Growth Mindset in Lisbon's Earthquake

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

On November 1st, 1755, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 8.5 happened in Lisbon, Portugal. Within the hour, a tsunami crashed into the waterfront and killed hundreds of people. Subsequently, a firestorm started to occur and so the city was then entirely destroyed.

Marquis de Pombal, a Portuguese statesman, and diplomat simply saw the city’s destruction as an opportunity to rebuild Lisbon. With the help of military engineers, he imposed a plan to expedite evacuation for future emergencies along with making transportation, sewage, and garbage collection system more efficient. Buildings were built to be earthquake-proof; firewalls were implemented and structures were purposefully designed to withstand an earthquake. Pombal took the long view and put in the effort to have drains built under city streets to neutralize potential flooding, and a protective foreshore built along the city and the harbor. Pombal's innovative plans and execution earned the fact that the buildings of Lisbon became the world's first earthquake-proof buildings in history and are now a major tourist attraction.

How does this relate to the growth mindset?

That I can be the Pombal of my own journey. I may not have a strong team of military engineers, but I have a strong circle of trusted people in my life, books, and experiences that facilitate enriching learning opportunities for me. The earthquake in Lisbon is analogous to setbacks, rejections, and perceived failures which I also consider challenges. Whenever they occur, I have a choice in terms of how I'm going to deal with them:

  1. (A) I can stay bitter about it, complain, and play the blame game.

  2. (B) I can cultivate Pombal's mindset; viewing it as an opportunity to rebuild something better...stronger!

Every human being has an underlying infinite intelligence. When that's recognized through achieving a high state of consciousness and the willingness to put it into action...anything is truly possible.

Which choice would you pick when an 'earthquake' happens in your life? If B, what will your game plan look like, and what kind of people, learning content, and experiences do you pick to be on your team?

Every human being has an underlying infinite intelligence.


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