Making Progress Outside the Gym
Since I started coaching I have seen a lot of people transform their bodies in the gym. Most people are hesitant at first. They come in with a skeptical attitude. I can almost read their thoughts from the look on their faces. “I’m never going to be able to do that.” Some people even tell me that straight out, but I tell them to just be patient and have an open mind. I tell them that we are going to take it nice and slow and to just try. When they realize that I’m not going to throw them to the wolves and give them something they can’t handle, they tend to let their guard down a little bit. They put forth effort and slowly, but surely we make steady progress. During this time I can visibly see them buying into the process and developing a newfound belief in their abilities. Before you know it, this individual is performing with ease the tasks that they thought they would never even be capable of at the beginning of the process.
That is one of the greatest joys of coaching people, to see someone challenge a story that was fixed in their mind and overcome it. This is very empowering to the individual and can create huge changes in their lives. However, I am sometimes surprised to find that this same individual will revert back to a fixed mindset relating to areas of their life outside of the gym. It is very easy to forget where you started and how far you’ve come, but when you do this you discount all of the effort that you’ve put forth in your journey. Now that the individual has made these changes to their body, after a while they forget that it didn’t always come this easy for them to push themselves physically in the gym and to do the things they are now capable of. It took a lot of time and effort to get to that point and it is that same time and effort that is going to get you through this next hurdle in your life.
In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck explains that a fixed mindset tells you that if a quality doesn’t come naturally to you, then you just don’t have it. A growth mindset tells you that’s nonsense and that if you are willing to put forth the effort and practice, that you can cultivate this quality. The effortless appearance of the master is only attained through years of hard work and practice.
So, what we are seeing with the individual in this example is that they challenged their fixed mindset on fitness, that they were not capable of performing x, y, z in the gym and replaced it with a growth mindset, that if they work hard consistently over time they can achieve these things. However, it is quite possible to have a growth mindset in one area of your life, but still be in a fixed mindset in other areas such as intelligence, personality and relationships. In other words, the individual believes their traits and abilities are fixed and there’s nothing they can do to change them.
It becomes very easy to go through life avoiding things that you “aren’t good at”. However, there is a good chance that if you just put forth the effort to improve and be uncomfortable throughout the learning stage that you could become good at these things. For instance, growing up I was terrible at talking to people I didn’t know. I was one of the shyest kids around and thought I was destined to a future of being socially awkward. However, this was something that I wanted to change. I wanted to be a socially outgoing person. So, I started taking baby steps and stepping out of my comfort zone. And, I improved steadily over time. This has been an ongoing process for me, but through years of effort and practice I have made huge strides.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my life it is that nothing is fixed, or set in stone. You have the power to make change. Whether it’s your body, your ability or your mind, you have the power to change it. But, the first step is believing that you are not stuck or fixed in your current situation. If you are willing to get out of your comfort zone and put forth the effort, you can make changes you never thought possible.
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