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“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change”.
This is a quote that I have stuck up in my training room and office to remind me to embrace the concept of a growth mindset. Too many of us look for the worst in things instead of seeing potential positives. I will give you an example to solidify the concept. Say you are prescribed a swim set with 40 x 50s. Mentally this is a challenging set and can create some angst of how hard it will be to do the set. What many of us do when we have completed 10 of the 40 is to think ‘oh no I still have 30 to go’ instead of thinking ‘oh great I have done 10 already and I am a quarter of the way there’. This concept can apply across all of you training and in life in general.
This article is going to address how to develop a growth mindset that will assist you in unlocking your mental barriers and hopefully helping you to improve your mental and physical performances. Before we dive in let’s take a look at the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.
A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, creativeness and the like are all static and that we simply cannot change them in ourselves.
A growth mindset on the other hand thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a springboard for growth and furthering our existing abilities.
We manifest one of these mindsets from a very early age, largely due to the environment in which we are brought up in, the influence of our parents, teachers and friends. These mindsets have a significant impact on a great deal of our learned behaviours about ourselves and can impact on our relationship with success and failure in both a professional and personal capacity, which as we all know can ultimately impact on our capacity for happiness!!
One of the leading researchers in this field, Carol Dweck, has poignantly stated ‘the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life’. This is interesting and worth rereading. This concept suggests that if we view ourselves different then we can make positive changes in our lives. A good example of this is thinking and believing we are athletes and conducting ourselves in that manner with confidence and poise.
Dweck believes that we all lie on a continuum of fixed and growth mindsets depending on what it relates to. In terms of endurance sports, we might have a fixed mindset when it comes to doing an ironman believing it is too hard, that we are too old, slow and the list goes on. Whereas we might have a growth mindset in terms of nutrition as we want to learn more about it so we can shift weight to feel and look better. I find I have differing mindset at work, in training and in my general life and a lot of these differing mindsets can come down to positivity, past results, self actualisation, self belief and worth.
So, if you are keen to try and work on the growth mindset, I have a number of approaches that will help you on the path. As with everything in life, we need to identify when we are fixed in our mindset, examine why this is the case and then work hard to switch it over. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Keep training hard and recover well.
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