Emmanuel Agyapong felt he always had the potential to stand out, but his mindset held him back time and again.
“I went to high school and I was the star of the [basketball] team,” said Agyapong, now a senior wellness major at Oswego State. “So I already had that fixed mindset in my head like, ‘I don’t have to work any better,’ because I started. People looked up to me because I was one of the best people on the team.”
There are two ways of living, two mentalities in life; a fixed mindset and a growth one, Agyapong said. A fixed way of thinking is associated with many characteristics, such as a negative attitude, stagnation and complacency. A growth mindset, on the other hand, keys in on things like a positive outlook, a concerted drive for self-improvement and an understanding that failures can be used to learn for the future.
“I don’t consider losses anymore,” Agyapong said. “I don’t think about losses anymore, because I think they’re lessons. That’s what an L is, a lesson, because I learned not to do that ever again. I learned how to better do that again.”
The fixed mentality, the attitude that he was naturally good enough, that he was able to not work and make the NBA, stayed with Agyapong even after he started college at Buffalo State. The change for him occurred during his sophomore year at Buffalo State.
“I was with a girl for two years. She broke up with me, and it hurt, like it hurt a lot,” Agyapong said. “And what I did was, I went to that negative thought, like I was saying, the negativity. She was doing her thing. She was being successful. Me, I’m really sitting in my room thinking, ‘Why, why’d this all happen to me,’ because it was just a bad semester.”
After about a month in this cycle, Agyapong made the active choice to be successful and made a plan to achieve his goals. It worked, and Agyapong has made a sizeable impression since transferring to Oswego State, becoming a member of the ODK leadership honor society just one semester after arriving and earning multiple scholarships.
Agyapong was not the only one to realize in college that a change needed to be made to his mentality and his life. For junior Glassford Crossfield, that moment took place in the first few weeks of classes, during his creative nonfiction writing class.
“We actually had an assignment where we had to read something all of us wrote on fixed mindset and I realized that I actually had a fixed mindset,” Crossfield said. “Since reading that, I’ve been trying to implement more of a growth mindset, and kind of not viewing certain situations as a failure, but viewing it as another opportunity to grow, to get better.”
Crossfield has known Agyapong since he was a freshman two years ago. They first met when Agyapong was living in Funnelle Hall and Crossfield was in Hart Hall, Crossfield said. Having built their rapport over that time, he was extremely impressed with Agyapong’s leadership, Crossfield said.
“I think he’s a great leader,” Crossfield said. “He’s in various organizations. He plays point guard too, so I think that might factor into it.”
Another important point of Agyapong’s was the concept of being built, not born. This ties into the growth mentality; the person he will be tomorrow is more than who he is today, since he is constantly bettering himself.
Of everything Agyapong spoke about, this resonated especially strong with freshman Michael Kolawole, he said. Kolawole strives to grow by diversifying his skill set and gaining experience in several areas at once.
“It’s crazy because I’m not satisfied,” Kolawole said. “I mean, I have a clothing brand, I’m interested in marketing as well, but I’m in broadcasting because I love the camera as well.”
All three of these areas coincide for Kolawole because they are all about his brand. To Kolawole, branding refers to more than a product or a company, it is what separates the elites from the rest of the pack.
“It applies to everything in life,” Kolawole said. “Listen, if you want to be a basketball player, you’ve got to brand yourself. Look at LeBron [James]. He’s a businessman and all this. Any person is more than just that life.”
Effective branding is difficult to achieve without an effective mentality. For Kolawole, that means looking at what he is doing everyday to make sure it is going to help him reach his goals, he said.
“I use what I do on the regular, see if I can incorporate it,” Kolawole said. “If I know it’s not helping me, I wouldn’t do it. If it’s helping me, then I’m going to keep doing it and keep trying to balance it out. Because, in order to see all the results you want to see, you have to know how to balance that stuff out now.”
Greg Tavani | The Oswegonian