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The field is tilled, what do I plant?
Seeds For Growth
In Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, Two different types of mindset are described as being at the extreme end on either side of a spectrum.
On one side of the spectrum is the fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone – who you are is who you are, period. Characteristics such as intelligence, personality, and creativity are fixed traits, rather than something that can be developed.
On the other side of the spectrum is the growth mindset.
A growth mindset comes from the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through effort. Yes, people differ greatly – in aptitude, talents, interests, or temperaments – but everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
The main difference is that one belief paves the way for you to anticipate growth and the work it will take (including the inner work of catching and removing crooked thoughts like the fixed belief above) to see progress on something.
What’s the benefit of having a growth mindset?
Having a fixed mindset places a priority on constantly proving yourself to others around you. Criticism is seen as an attack on your character. You are either good, or bad at somehthing and it’s just simply that way.
Having a growth mindset prioritizes learning, effort, and progress. If you can drop the attitude that you are good or bad, and decide that those are subjective anyway and don’t really matter, then you will have the mental room to believe that can you improve at something. If you can bring that thought into your mind, then you’ll be much more driven to learn, mess up, and practice. Which, if anything is what leads people to becoming good at something.
Rather than a fixed belief of:
“I am not good at CrossFit and I am too out of shape to be in this gym.”
You have the choice to adopt growth-based beliefs like:
“This is workable. Since others have made the type of progress I want, I can do this too.”
Criticism is seen as valuable feedback and openly embraced. The hallmark of the growth mindset is the passion for sticking with it, especially when things are not going well.
Let’s say you aren’t fond of overhead squats and see overhead squat in the workout for tomorrow’s training.
A person practicing a fixed mindset could think:
“Well I’m not going to that class. I can’t do them worth a damn and have to stay so light it’s not even worth showing up to.”
A person practicing a growth mindset could think:
“Alright, I’m not good at those, probably because I avoid them. If I’m ever going to get better this year, I need to buckle up and go get better at them.”
“I’ll let the coach know I’m not great at these. Maybe he’ll spot what I could work on.”
“I’m not doing overhead stuff with this tight shoulder right now, so I can do front squats and still get my fitness in this week.”
The take-away is this.
Fixed mindsets encourage us to see challenges and setbacks personally. They stop our growth and result in feelings of powerlessness or apathy that we can get stuck on for a long time, even indefinitely.
Growth mindsets encourage our own growth and responsibility for improving ourselves. If we embrace that the road to being good at something is filled with a lot of “not being really good at that thing,” then the power lies with us.
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