In 2006, Carol S. Dweck, PhD, published 30 years of her research answering the question: What makes someone suc­cessful? She theorized people contain two mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Choosing one over the other alters the success you find in life.

Fixed Mindset

This is the belief we are born with a set of abilities and intel­ligences and we cannot move beyond what is inherent within us. People who choose the fixed mindset avoid taking risks, lose out on life’s adventures and look at failures as endings rather than opportunities to learn and try again.

Growth Mindset

This is the belief hard work and determination can provide you with endless opportunities. No one ever reaches their full potential because you can always keep learning and growing. People who choose a growth mindset take risks and never mind making mistakes. Rather, they view mistakes as positives because those mistakes are a gateway to growth.

5 ACTION AREAS OF THE MINDSETS

To explain further, Dweck identified five action areas in which the two mindsets diverge: challenges, criticism, success, effort and obstacles.

Here are examples of each mindset. Think of what sounds most like you. Are you someone who thinks with a fixed or growth mindset? If you are in a fixed mindset, it is time to start switching your thought process.  

Challenges  
Fixed mindset – avoids failure: “I will not sign up for a full marathon because I don’t think I can do anything longer than a half-marathon.”
Growth mindset – sees failure as opportunity: “I did not finish the full marathon and had to stop. But I’ll try again because I love the idea of challenging my body and pushing it to its limits.”

Criticism      
Fixed mindset – rejects feedback: “My coach is wrong. I know what is best for me.”    
Growth mindset – learns from feedback: “I will ask my coach questions during and after our training sessions and take notes to remember what I am told.”

Success of Others   
Fixed mindset – gets insecure: “I am jealous of my friend who qualified for the Boston Marathon.”  
Growth mindset – gets motivated: “I need to spend time doing speed work to qualify for Boston like my friend did. To do this, I will hire coach who can help me get faster and stronger.”

Effort  
Fixed mindset – thinks trying means you are no good: “I am already a good cyclist. I don’t need anyone to help me get better.”      
Growth mindset – puts in the work: “I’m up at 6 a.m. to train. I can always get a little stronger.”

Obstacles    
Fixed mindset – gives up: “I could never run a marathon. I am not a runner.”    
Growth mindset – tries: “I think I could run a marathon. Today I will look up running groups in my area and join them for their next session.”

Fully switching from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset can take years, if not a lifetime. But you should practice training yourself to have a growth mindset every day, like you practice your sport every day — it will be worth it. You will view endurance sports not as something so data and results driven but instead as something in which you enjoy the journey.

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