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Get Yo Mind Right!

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Something I have found that is infinitely important, whether it be in athletics, coaching, or life in general, is a person’s mindset. This is the way someone sees the world, approaches activities that they engage in, and react to situations that occur. Inside a person’s mind, their mindset can usually be broken down into 2 main categories: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset is one where someone sees the world in very defined concepts. Everything is black or white, right or wrong, good or bad [can or cannot]. This mindset is very common among people who have a perfectionist type of personality and people who are very type A. The issues with this mindset are apparent, but to spell it out, it creates very little area for growth and exploration. Every decision becomes magnified because the choice you make is either right or wrong and thus reflects back as making you a better or worse person. This type of mindset can cause people to be much less happy and have a higher constant state of stress, and I should know as this is a mindset that I battle constantly. I have been told my entire life, “You’re too hard on yourself,” and to “Cut yourself a break.” But these words of advice always went in one ear and out the other. I felt that having a mindset like this is what motivated me to continue to put the work in to get better grades and do well in my sports. But looking back, I am positive that this mindset is actually what held me back. A quick example is during wrestling practice when I was in college. Coming out of high school I was the best wrestler on my team, but when you step into a college wrestling room you quickly become just another one of the guys. So as I went through my career, I wouldn’t try different set-ups or moves in practice because I didn’t want to get taken down by the guy I was practicing with, ESPECIALLY if this practice partner was younger than me or behind me on the depth. But ironically, this was the perfect time to try different things and work on new techniques. At the end of the day, no one knows or cares if you get taken down by the worst kid in the weight class in practice, but because I couldn’t let go of that fixed mindset I wasn’t able to grow in practice and thus create better results for myself in competition.

So the opposite of the fixed mindset is the growth mindset. A growth mindset is one that is very focused on the process and less on the result. In this mindset, every decision you make becomes an opportunity for the individual to learn, grow, and get better. This mindset allows for much more grey on whether a decision is right or wrong. So if every decision is viewed as a chance to learn and improve, there is much less pressure on where to go. This allows people to have a much higher level of daily happiness and a much lower level of consistent stress and anxiety. This is a mindset that I am continually working to develop and hold onto not just because it will allow me to live more stress free, but because I believe this mindset is PARAMOUNT to success within business, coaching, athletics, and especially when being a husband and a father. And I also know from personal experience that the times I have held this growth mindset is when these aspects of my life are running the smoothest.

So the question becomes, how do I go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Well, I can tell you, it’s not easy. But here are 3 suggestions on how to get the process started:

 

  1. Put yourself in situations that people will say “No” to you– I stole this from Jeff Harmon who is an amazing life coach. People with a fixed mindset generally have a very hard time hearing the word no from people because they create a level of judgment on themselves. So what Jeff suggests is to put yourself in situations where you know that someone will say no and then celebrates every no that you get. For example, when you go to Starbucks to get a coffee, ask the barista for a free coffee. Chances are they will say no and you get to celebrate.
  2. Take a step back and remove judgment- This will take some practice, but when you feel a judgmental thought coming on, stop, take a step back, and analyze the situation without judgment. For example, I fail a 5 snatch attempts and I think, “Man I suck at snatching.” This is a judgmental thought so stop, realize this thought is judgmental and take a more unbiased look at the situation. So an unbiased look at this situation would look something like how the person had a hard time with their snatch TODAY. From those mistakes I learned that I have trouble getting to full extension, so the next time I snatch I know that I have to focus on getting to full extension before anything else. Now instead of this training session being a bad session and the person sucking at snatching, the session was a learning experience and the person didn’t snatch well in this one instance. This strategy definitely takes a lot of thought and effort, but it is a necessary process.
  3. Talk to somebody- Find someone you trust who is able to be a third party in a situation and give you an accurate assessment of what is going on. Sometimes it is tough for us to get out of our own heads so I have found that talking to someone who is able to point out the language I am using and the judgmental thoughts I am having allows me to see that and then work to adjust those aspects.

 

I can’t emphasize enough how important working on this mindset is, so if this article resonates with you please reach out to me at chris@heroesjourney.com and let me know how else I can help you in that process.