Please let me start out this post with a shout out to Carol Dweck, Ph.D. Her research into the incredible power of mindset, and her ground-breaking book, Mindset, have had a profound impact on my coaching, parenting, relationships and life in general. In a nutshell, Dr. Dweck’s years of research, experimentation and analysis have led her to the conclusion that humans primarily operate in either a “fixed” OR a “growth” mindset.
A “Fixed Mindset” is a limiting way of looking at the world. A person with a fixed mindset thinks of themselves and others as having innate traits, talents and liabilities that can’t be changed. I.E. “He is a smart person. I am a procrastinator. My spouse is a klutz. My son is an artistic genius.” Counterintuitively, even positive traits had be limiters when one’s mindset is fixed. When we paint ourselves or others into a box, growth is limited. If my identity is that “I am smart and school is always easy for me,” I will avoid challenges that may prove otherwise.
The “Growth Mindset,” on the other hand, is the idea that abilities can be developed and improved. While a test may show us how we stack up at the moment in terms of a skill, it does NOT determine our aptitude in the long term. A person with a growth mindset relishes challenges as chances to grow and get better. Effort, tenacity and willingness to keep working at a difficult endeavor are valued over “talent.” The key is in believing that we can master intellectual, physical and artistic skills if we are willing to use every experience as an opportunity to grow.
It’s easy to recognize why the Growth mindset is preferable to the Fixed. So what to do? Changing the way we praise others and talk to ourselves are key for pushing out the Fixed Mindset and reinforcing the Growth Mindset. Instead of Fixed Mindset praise: “You are so smart, you are a natural!, you are so talented”- Use Growth Mindset praise: “Great effort, Way to hang in there, Awesome Improvement, Hard work will make you better”. If there is success without effort, “That was too easy for you, we’ll ramp up the challenge next time” or good effort with little improvement, “You worked hard and kept your concentration- keep it up, it will pay off.”
This of course applies to our training in the gym and fitness in general. Every day is a chance to get better. Every challenge is an opportunity to grow. Not trying something because we fear of failure or think that we are “just bad at that” is stereotypical Fixed Mindset and something we at CrossFit Discovery are dedicated to leaving in the past. Ask your coaches for tips on making the shift to Growth.
Change your mindset, change your life. At every age, the die is NOT yet cast unless we let it be so. We can improve, evolve and grow if we continue to take on challenges with relish and grit. Do something hard today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. See you at the gym.