Ask yourself a question. Do you believe that your intelligence, talents, and skills are fixed items? Meaning, are you born with hard cap on what you can or cannot achieve in these domains?
Do you believe that your intelligence, talents, and skills are fluid? Meaning that you can develop each to a maximal capacity based on your education and opportunity?
If you believe the first, you live in what is called a “fixed” mindset. The latter, is called a “growth” mindset.
To summarize (and horribly over simplify) SOME of the work of Carol Dweck, PhD, professor of psychology at Stanford University has done on this topic, your mindset has a critical role in what you are able to achieve, in any area of your life. People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that their talents and traits (like their intelligence), are fixed or permanent, whereas those with a growth mindset tend to believe these traits can be developed over time.
“People with a growth mindset feel confident to pursue ambitious goals and are less discouraged by setbacks. They also collaborate more readily and believe not only that they can change and develop to achieve their desired goals, but that others can equally do the same, regardless of their past.”1
In looking at people who achieve great things (in business, sport, personal life, etc.) almost EVERY time, you encounter someone that has adopted a “growth” mindset. Being able to look at yourself and accept that you are not a finished product, rather, you are a “work in progress” is critical to your ability to make a change in your life. In short, a growth mindset rewards striving and struggle. Often times, those with this perspective see failure as an integral part of the process toward growth. Seeing that change and growth is possible makes one more likely to collaborate with experts, to seek new information, and in the end, adjust their behavior.
In our context here at the gym, this is probably the first thing we tackle with clients when they begin working with us. We sit down and dig into what makes them tick, what motivates them, and what their hangups are (after all, there is likely a reason that they haven’t achieved their goals on their own at this point). Most people begin their fitness journey with a fixed mindset. Unsure of themselves, and their abilities to make a positive change, many people are starting from behind the mental eight-ball in this regard
More often than not, we can help people realize (usually within a session or two) that they can, in fact, improve upon their current skill set. They can change for the better. They can improve and achieve the things they hope to achieve. Those that are the most successful, eventually fully adopt the “Growth Mindset”