Trust the Process?
You've heard it said before. The notion that it'll all be worth it in the end. But maybe the end goal isn't our real focus.
According to Carol Dweck, researcher at Standford University, there are two different types of mindsets an individual can have. The first is the growth mindset. The second, the fixed mindset. I first heard of these two divisions through Chris Cooper, entrepreneur and founder of Two Brain Business. These mindsets can be hard to identify in people that are better at internalizing than others, but any kind of gym or fitness setting tends to bring out a lot more about our personalities than you may have expected!
So how does this apply to the almost overused saying of "trusting the process"?
First, let's look at the growth mindset.
The growth mindset is taking the perspective that the process of improving something is going to make you better, even if you fail miserably at first. Acknowledging that you are not great at something, and then stepping out of your comfort zone and going for it anyway is the mark of someone with this mindset. These individuals think, "time and experience will help me grow, so I will put in the time and effort to gain that experience."
An opportunity to learn something new, even in the face of failure.
As applied to a CrossFit gym, you will often encounter things that scare you, or that you know you'll stink at the first time you try it. Are you going to try it anyway, recognizing that you will probably fail? Will you quiet that voice in your head that tells you it'll be embarrassing if you can't do a movement properly, and show up and work hard anyway? Or do you give in thinking that you'll never be able to get a pull up and you'll look like a fish out of water if you try, so we'll just stick to ring rows?
The growth mindset can be applied to many aspects of life. Are you constantly looking for the next task to take on at work and saying yes, even if you know you'll probably get it wrong on your first attempt? If you are a business owner, are you paralyzed by the fear that content you put out on the world wide web won't be received well, or are you jumping in anyway and pressing "send"? What about with your family? You know you need to spend more time with your spouse, or get more exercise as a family. Do you remain in the holding pattern of "it's hard to make time so I won't bother" or "I don't know what any of the hiking trails are like around here so I'm not going to go find out"? Or do you take that step anyway? You find distractions in your life and remove them, knowing the time gained with your spouse might be awkward at first, and the kids may despise you for taking away the iPad in exchange for a day in the park, but you'll grow together and get better with every attempt.
The fixed mindset is quite the opposite.
The fear of failure holds you back from taking that next step. You have already identified that you do not have control over the situation, and that keeps you from trying. Fixed mindset individuals can also be so focused on an end goal and the seemingly impossibility of that goal, that they never take action. Fixed mindset individuals tend to have pretty negative self-talk, convincing themselves they are going to fail, before even making an attempt. Applied to something like weightlifting, telling yourself you can't do this weight before you even try often will prevent the weight from ever going up, resulting in frustration and plateaus.
(I do need to clarify in the weightlifting example, a fixed mindset is often not the culprit of a failed lift. Sometimes your body is simply not used to what is feels like to have to manipulate a new weight through space in order to successfully complete the lift. But that is an entirely different rabbit hole I will save for another post.)
If you've read up until now, you've probably identified which mindset you tend to exhibit. If you've identified areas in your life where you lean towards a fixed mindset, what are you going to do differently over the next few days, or even hours, to change to a growth mindset?
Take some practical steps this weekend to train your brain to see opportunities in everything:
1. Recognize and embrace your weaknesses. We all have them. Know what yours are, and think of small goals you can accomplish daily to challenge those areas to improve.
2. View challenges as opportunities. Shift your thinking from a challenge being something you'll likely fail at, to a challenge being an opportunity to grow.
3. Remember that your brain is always changing. Neuroplasticity is a hot topic right now, and in essence means that your brain is capable of learning and physically changing throughout your life, rather than just during your "critical" developmental years.
4. Prioritize personal growth over approval. We're all learning here. Don't let the fear of disapproval paralyze you from taking action.
5. Focus on the process, rather than the end result.
Are you ready to start shifting your mindset?
Step out of your comfort zone. Take action, accept failure, reflect on what could be done differently, and try again. And again. And again.
We're all still learning.