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5 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

When I was a kid, I learned early on that 1.) I am good at learning new things and 2.) I am not an athlete because I can’t run fast…at all. These 2 core beliefs, set before I was 10 years old, had a significant impact on and laid the groundwork for much of my life; lots of academics and lifelong learning, but until recently, athletic pursuits were mostly limited to basic exercise to lose weight or try to stay in shape.   

Carol Dweck, in her groundbreaking book on mindset, outlines how “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life”. A fixed mindset believes abilities are set and can’t be changed. A growth mindset, however, believes that basic attributes can be honed and cultivated through effort. If you look at my story, you see an example of a growth mindset (I can learn and grow intellectually through hard work and support) and a fixed one (I’m not an athlete, thus I’m not good at physical activities). 

I’ve recently decided I need to develop a growth mindset around my athletic ability. It’s not been easy, but I’m definitely making progress and wanted to share the key steps with you. Here are 5 ways to develop a growth mindset, based on Elite’s proven processes: 

    1. Start with self awareness – One of our favorite sayings at Team Elite is that you can’t address what you don’t acknowledge. Ask yourself – Do you have a fixed mindset? If so, is it in general, or just certain areas? Are there areas where you feel stuck or held back? In my case, the belief that I was not an athlete kept me on the sidelines for way too long, and it impacted my health. 
    2. Identify your core beliefs in those fixed areas – What are the core beliefs underlying your fixed mindset? In my example, my core belief was that “I’m not an athlete because I’m too slow and there’s nothing I can do to change that”.
    3. Evaluate if that core belief is true – Are the things holding you back actually true? How long ago was that belief established? Is that belief still valid? My core belief was based on the sports that were popular back in the 80s. The truth is that there are sports that rely on other skills besides speed, and I do have other skills, such as strength and flexibility, that I can cultivate.
    4. Decide what must be true instead to feel the way you want to feel – For me, I’ve made the choice to believe I am an athlete, and want to focus on several sports that play to my strengths, make me feel good and improve my overall health, such as weight lifting and hiking. 
    5. Practice progress, not perfection – Just like reps in the gym, you need to hit the mental gym and practice the above steps in order for them to become natural. It takes time and continued work to change a mindset. There are still times when my former belief tries to pop back in, but I now know how to reset and keep going. It also helps that I hired a personal trainer who keeps me on track when I want to waiver.

I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, and that’s OK…I’ll be my own best self, which is what I’m looking for!  If you need support developing your own growth mindset, please reach out to me or any of the other Elite High Performance coaches. We’d love to help you on your journey!

Coach Jen Patel | High-Performance & Leadership Coach 

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