If you’re thinking of embarking on a great adventure, there is no doubt that you’ve already begun to prepare yourself. In this article, we will introduce the idea of the growth mindset and some simple practical tools that could help you reach the highest peak on your journey.
We all know that when we want to get fitter we need to train, stick to our exercise program, stretch correctly, eat properly and get enough rest. However, what we often don’t consider is the way we’re considering our goals.
The danger of this oversight is that perhaps after a week, a month or even six months, we’re not yet at our goal weight or fitness level. Now what do we do?
Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, wrote a book called Mindset in which she explores the different mindsets for success. Her research into the topic started with observing how school children responded to a challenging test. What she saw was that while some expressed excitement and motivation to take on the task, other children became completely distraught, as if the task was a test of their intelligence; a test they had failed. What Dweck realised was that their difference in mindsets was key to their success.
Fixed versus Growth Mindset
If we think of the above example, someone with a fixed mindset would most likely quit their training, telling themselves “I’m just not strong enough; I’ll never reach that goal because I’ll never be strong enough.”
The reason for this is that people with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are predetermined, cast in stone and that they’re stuck with what they have been given. People with a fixed mindset are trapped in what Dweck calls “The Tyranny of Now”. This is quite an apt phrase for our desire for instant success and the expectation that what we have now will or won’t be enough to make it now.
On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset would most likely persue their fitness goals. Perhaps even pushing themselves harder than they were before, saying “I’m not there yet but I’m on my way there, I can see the change in my body already and can’t wait to reach my goal!”
The difference between the person who gives up and the one that keeps going is the belief that their abilities can be developed through dedication and effort. That they’re growing towards their goals and only with perseverence will they achieve their success, and when they do, man will it feel good!
This is what Dweck calls “The Power of Yet”. We haven’t reached the summit yet, and may still have miles to go, but every step is getting us a little closer to that point.
So what’s the key to having a Growth Mindset?
A process focus.
Do you remember Finding Nemo’s character Dory, where she sings to the captive fish in the net “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”, and while they’re struggling to move, each fish keeps on swimming until eventually they push hard enough and break free. This for me is a perfect example of process focus. The song reminds us that if we just keep on going we will reach our goals, especially if we push each others to do so.
At this point, while reading this article, you may be thinking that it’s simple, and the truth is , it is. But when you reach the brick wall in your energy for the day and you have miles more to climb, a process focus will become a useful resource in helping you reach your next rest camp.
So how can you keep a process focus?
By celebrating the tiny wins.
So when you hit that slump on your trail, instead of fighting against yourself or getting frustrated try taking a moment to reflect on all the successes you’ve had until that point. Perhaps acknowledging how far you have gone to get there, how many kilometres you’ve walked that day or how close you are to reaching the end. It could even be as simple as appreciating your surroundings and the beautiful people with whom you’re sharing this challenge and being grateful for the journey. Snapping photos and savouring them later in the day.
Celebrating even the tiniest wins can be a helpful technique to maintaining your process focus and in turn helping you see how far you’ve come. This will help to keep you motivated to carry on, and the best part… while you’re going, you will be growing new abilities.
“Everyone wants to live on the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” – Andy Rooney