Monday, 4 February 2013

He can who thinks he can, and he can't who thinks he can't

He can who thinks he can, and he can't who thinks he can't. This is an inexorable, indisputable law. ~Pablo Picasso

Being British let’s start by talking about the weather. It’s been challenging!  Mother Nature has been throwing everything at us; it’s as if she wants to make training as hard as possible with snow, plunging Arctic temperatures, storms, gale force winds, rain, hail and on the odd occasion sun!

Typical cross country last weekend! Northern XC Champs, Knowsley, 29th/217 and Leeds city 3rd team. Thanks Jerry Watson for the photo.

This little weather report leads nicely into the idea of Mindset. To overcome this challenging weather a growth mindset has been vital.  A key feature of my work with Teach First and as an athlete is to develop my own growth mindset.

Mindset is defined as mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.”

I am a huge fan of the work by Matthew Syed, author of "Bounce" and Psychologist Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The Psychology Of Success” . Both have influenced a lot of my thinking. The main idea is mindset can be seen on a continuum with growth mindset on one hand and fixed mindset on the other. We can move up and down the continuum depending on the context. For myself I am Growth mindset with a capital G in some instances, such as believing I can develop athletic ability but in other instances I naturally fall into fixed mindset such as believing I can improve my mathematical or musical ability. In these instances I have to remind myself the growth mindset ideas.

It seems al so logical…..yet so many people use phrases such as

“They are a born swimmer” or “She is such a talented runner” or “He is naturally gifted”

NO NO NO all the scientific evidence around cognitive science, malleable intelligence point to these assumptions about “being born with a gift” completely false. We become good at certain things due to hard work, taking on challenging activities and failing, seeing failure as a chance to learn and constant practice.

I would argue that Mo Farah, became a double Olympic gold medallist in London 2012 because he has developed a growth mindset, he has worked very, very hard at training to improve his athleticism as a distance runner, he has learnt from failure, he constantly practices his trade. Now what’s to say if at age 12 Mo instead of putting effort into running painted a picture at school and the art teacher really praised his effort and that encouraged him to paint every day and learn from with artistic failures, who knows maybe he could have ended up as an artist with a painting hanging in Tate Modern.

For me to develop a growth mindset and to hold this at the forefront of my mind is crucial to me achieving my vision and goals as an athlete.

These pictures sum up growth mindset aka the “I can attitude” perfectly.

Find of the week:
A great article linking mindset, sport, psychology and education is by Matt Dale, enjoying reading it here (Thanks to my boss Liz for sending me this).
Also i love this video, for it's sense of possibility and optimising growth mindset.

1 comment: