“What if I can’t do this?” I thought. “It’s been a long time.”
I looked up at the mountain in front of me. It had been a long time since I had rock climbed and admittedly, I was scared of looking stupid in front of all the guys.
After a few deep breathes, I started the climb. I lost my footing in the first two minutes and for a brief moment wondered if I was way in over my head.
I started again, this time from a different spot and took my time assessing every step.
Who knows how long it took, but eventually I found myself at the very top of the mountain. I shouted to the guys below “Now what?”
By the time I made it back down I felt a surge of excitement. “Of course I could do that! I lift weights damnit! I can do anything!”
This spontaneous rock climbing adventure is a great example of a growth and fixed mindset at play. Feeling uncertain and scared about my ability to rock climb when I was clearly out of practice is what a fixed mindset looks like. Had I maintained that mindset, I would have quit early on, or worse, not tried at all.
Is your mindset helping you thrive?
Having a growth mindset is when we embrace learning regardless of how skilled, talented, or silly we may be in the process. A person with this mindset recognizes that he or she won’t excel at the start but welcomes the process of learning, improving, and eventually excelling in that endeavor. A growth mindset sounds like:
- “I’m excited to try this!”
- “I don’t know how to do this but I want to learn.”
- “This is a chance to learn something new!”
- “Sounds like a fun challenge. Let’s do it!”
The fixed mindset is quite the opposite. It’s the stance that we are born with a certain set of skills or talents, and we are expected to excel in key areas of our lives based on those skills and talents. There is very little room for growth with the fixed mindset because the expectation is that we already know/are good at/excel in a specific area. The fixed mindset doesn’t like to be challenged and gives up if they’re not thriving fast enough. This mindset sounds like:
- “I hate failure.”
- “I’m not interested in doing something I don’t understand.”
- “This is too hard! I’m done!”
- “If he/she beats me at this, then something is wrong with me.”
- “I’ve just never been good at this.”
It’s quite possible to have a growth mindset about one thing, and a fixed mindset about something else. Or in my rock climbing example, experience both mindsets at once.
When it comes to our bodies, our performance, and our ability to thrive as athletes and individuals, a growth mindset will open up doors and experiences that cultivate a life of freedom and adventure.
If your mindset is holding you back from achieving the results you want in fitness, health, or business here are a few ways to start cultivating your growth mindset right now:
1.) Reframe failure
When I first started Barbell Pilates, there were numerous roadblocks and obstacles to overcome. I had very little web development experience, a shoestring budget, and didn’t know the first thing about launching an online course. Rather than give up or spend hundreds of dollars hiring “experts” to do it all, I embraced the possibility of failure as a learning tool.
As I began to build my first online course, Pilates FloWOD, I told myself over and over that if I didn’t sell anything, I would still know more about online business than I did when I started. If you can reframe failure as learning opportunities, then you can tackle anything fearlessly.
New train of thought: “I embrace this experience as a valuable learning tool”
2.) Praise the effort, not the outcome
Remember in grade school when a teacher praised a student for being “smart” because of a good grade? According to research around fixed and growth mindset, the act of praising the outcome can unintentionally foster a fixed mindset in us. That’s because the outcome (i.e. the good grade) isn’t a result of being smart (another outcome), but a result of one’s persistence and effort.
As you start taking on new ventures, be it in the gym or at work, start praising yourself for the effort you’re putting in instead of the outcome. If you’re starting a new diet, for example, avoid pouring all your attention on the scale and the amount you’re losing. Instead, focus on the effort you’re putting in: Staying consistent, eating healthy foods, exercising reguarly, etc. All those things will ultimately give you the results your want and has nothing to do with being smart, perfect, strong, or capable.
New train of thought: “I let go of the outcome and enjoy the process of becoming.”
3.) Turn talents into skills
We are all born with gifts, but without effort, passion and consistency, we can lose those gifts altogether.
If you’re born with a great singing voice, are you guaranteed to be a Grammy winning artist?
Heck no! You’d have to cultivate that talent with voice lessons, practice being on stage, make great music, have a strong management team, learn to dance, improve stamina on stage and so on. Beyonce wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect to become extraordinary based on pure talent alone.
When you find yourself struggling to learn a lift or change your lifestyle for the better, are you Beyonce or are you a one-hit wonder? Focus on turning your gifts into skill sets, and don’t let yourself stop because of setbacks, failures, or a win.
New train of thought: “I turn talent into strengths with practice and persistence.”
Don’t underestimate the power of the mind when it comes to finding balance or happiness in your life. A fixed mindset can stop us from experiencing life and all of its adventures. It breaks my heart to see someone turn down invites to cool activities or trips because they’re afraid of sucking at it or looking bad in the process. If you’re going to invest in exercise or nutrition at all, do it to unlock your physical freedom and strengthen your mind so you can enjoy life more.
Now over to you. In what ways has a fixed mindset kept you from experiencing life’s greatest adventures? How is the growth mindset helping you cultivate a healthier lifestyle?