Creating an Advanced Mindset (Part 1)

Optimizing your performance or your life requires a lot of dedication and time. One of the first priorities in doing so is to create an advanced mindset. The mindset of successful, happy, satisfied, and accomplished people is one that accepts challenges and shortcoming along with enjoyment and progress. Dr. Carol Dweck first identified such a mindset by studying children — and ultimately learned from them how to have this mindset. The idea of setting your mind, or adjusting your perceptions, to face obstacles and challenges as fun and rewarding is the opposite of how others encounter such difficulties. With an inflexible and “fixed” mindset, challenges are threatening and mostly avoided.

Inflexible Perceptions

Just taking a moment to reflect on this phenomenon, it becomes clear that avoidance will severely limit life’s options. Opportunities that appear attractive will dissolve once the work and effort required appears too challenging. If an athlete gets frustrated with advancing in competitive levels and believes that without “natural” gifts they will not progress, they will close that chapter and, perhaps, try something different (something that appears easier). Ultimately, the emotional fear of testing personal abilities becomes overwhelming.

Excitement Towards Personal Growth

On the other hand, with a more advanced mindset (or, as Dr. Dweck called it, a “growth” mindset), embracing possibilities may lead to challenges but also inevitably leads to excitement and enjoyment at the prospect of bettering oneself. In order to foster such a perception about challenges and obstacles, we first have to accept that things can be hard or difficult but fun at the same time. Learning that effort is a behavior rather than a skill can really help. If I see effort as skill, I may dismiss my abilities when a little stress is involved. When I instead see effort as a behavior and focus on that, I don’t have to “win” as I progress with what I do. This may lead to enjoyment or excitement even when my efforts are not likely to succeed (secure a win) at first. Because the potential is there, the progress and development leads to growth.

Steps to Advance Your Mindset

Challenges are Opportunities for Growth

To initiate this process, choose to engage in something that is challenging to you (perhaps new) but that doesn’t seem impossible. Identify a method to measure or track how you are performing. Accept that it may be difficult but that the idea is to behave with effort towards progress. Explore the possibility of facing the challenge over time and imagine becoming more competent, confident, and skilled. You will be on your way towards creating an advanced mindset.

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