Carol Dweck is a Professor of Psychology working at Stanford University and has spent a large portion of her working life studying how people think in order to achieve.
According to Carol’s work, we can all be placed on a continuum of where we think ability comes from. Those at one end of the scale will tend to succeed and those at the other fail.
The Mindset Continuum
Carol’s work describes the two ends of the mindset continuum as being:
The Fixed Mindset
People who believe you can only be good at something if you’re ‘talented’ or have been born with a ‘gift’. These people believe we are hard wired to be good at maths or rubbish at maths, good at art or rubbish at art, good at riding a mountain bike or rubbish at riding a mountain bike.
The Growth Mindset
People who believe that, within the constraints of our genetics, we can use deliberate practice over a period of time to achieve whatever we set out to achieve.
Carol’s work suggests that as many as 40% of us maybe in a fixed mindset (that could be as many as 2960000000 people in the world!) while the majority of the rest of us will find ourselves caught somewhere between the two with our mindsets fixed in some areas eg I’m no good at maths, while showing growth beliefs in others eg but I am good at sports.
What does this mean for Mountain Bikers?
What this means is we can can train our brains and our bodies to be different eg we lift weights and we get big muscles, we do lots of puzzles and we become good at problem solving.
However, Carol points out that it’s important to realise that a growth mindset isn’t just dependent on the amount of effort you put in. It’s determined by how you respond to failure.
If we’re beaten in a race then a fixed mindset response would be:
“They’re way better than me, there’s no way I can beat them”.
While a growth mindset response would be:
“I wonder what training they’re doing that I’m not? I wonder what I could learn from them in order to improve my performance”?
Carol’s work (along with a massive amount of other research) ultimately shows that our attitude to what we do dictates what we achieve and what we don’t. Where do you sit on the continuum?
If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.