By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Many people believe they are born with a certain set of talents and gifts that cannot change. What if I told you that nobody knows what you can achieve? Everyone has limits, but until you find and challenge them, they aren’t real. Join me today as I explore the value you can find when you replace a fixed mindset with a growth mindset.
There are a lot of ways to work on yourself, and if you’re like me, you’ve tried a few dozen. If you really want to change, the most important step is to start with your outlook.
In Mindset, Carol S. Dweck introduces a new spin on self-development called the growth mindset. One of her key points is that failure is a part of the learning process. If you aren’t failing very much, then you aren’t learning much, either. Once you can stop being afraid of failure and embrace learning, you have successfully transitioned into a growth mindset.
Developing a process you can use to make changes will help you change your outlook as well as meet your goals for the new year. A process orientation also helps you develop a long-term thinking strategy. Once built, these methods are useful in many different areas of your life.
Another valuable method is changing your expectations. Look at what you want to become, and tell yourself that those differences are normal and attainable. When I’m working out and my legs get sore, I tell myself that this is how they are supposed to feel. Now, when my body doesn’t have that faint soreness from a recent workout, I feel like something isn’t quite right and I am more motivated to work out harder.
To develop a growth mindset, you should celebrate trying as opposed to achieving. Any effort you put in should be rewarded, and punishments should be avoided. If you have the desire to learn a new skill, you should try to make time to explore and experiment. It’s important to get your other responsibilities done and not get distracted. But each week should have some fun time set aside for experimentation and learning. “Learning” is a skill all by itself and, when mastered, is extremely fun. When I am trying something new, I often use Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir instead of caffeine, to give me an extra kick that keeps me on track.
If you can develop the ability to see a problem as an opportunity to learn, you will have created a growth mindset. If you avoid problems out of a fear of failure, you have a fixed mindset. Sometimes people switch between the two. You may think you have fixed traits of strength, health, and intelligence and you can’t develop them very far from where they are. If you’re weak, why go to the gym? You think you’ll never be a champion bodybuilder, so why try?
People with a fixed mindset do not like to try new things. They prefer trophies and mementos of the past so they can remember old achievements.
People with a growth mindset believe they can develop new skills with practice and experience. High-achievers often have this attitude. Life can be an exciting journey of learning and advancement. It’s not all fun and games; it’s hard work, too, and there’s more than enough failure to go around. But the high-achiever with a growth mindset also thinks long term instead of short term. They see failure as a necessary part of the learning process.
The long-term thinker works out when they don’t want to and works hard when they don’t have to. They know it will pay off in the end, so they smile even when it hurts. Sometimes they dream about the bragging rights they will acquire at having accomplished yet another feat of endurance or skill.
Combining a growth mindset with long-term thinking usually results in an attitude that encourages others to work hard and succeed, too. You know that, when your friends learn and grow, they will win, too. Life is more fun when everyone is improving, and nothing would be better than to have everyone be successful, happy, and hard-working.
People with a fixed mindset or short-term thinking feel threatened when their friends learn, grow, and try new things. They are afraid they will be overshadowed and left behind because their skills are set and they are not the kind of person who can grow and learn new things.
Tim Grover knows how to get fit. If you haven’t read his book, RELENTLESS: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, then you’re missing out. This is because he takes the ideas of a growth mindset and applies it to sports in a unique way. This framework helps you unlock your inner potential. When you are aware of the progress you have made, it will help you power through workouts.
Your fitness motivation is determined by your vision. If you think you have developed yourself to your best version or that you can’t improve because you have a condition or a disability, then you have a fixed mindset. The wellness wheel helps me maintain a healthy balance and identify when I am slipping into a fixed mindset. It integrates seamlessly with the concept of a growth mindset and helps me stay organized and on track.
Curiosity and the desire to explore skill improvement are two growth mindset examples everyone should consider developing. The more examples you can integrate into your life, the more results you will see as you move forward. You can always get a little better than you are. You can always find something you can do that will help you grow and expand in ways that may often surprise you.
Are you capable of transitioning to a growth mindset and staying there? Try some of these ideas and see if you can flip that switch and live with a growth mindset.