A growth mindset and its benefits are often cited in popular psychology and business literature. But what does that mean for athletes? Contrary to the belief that some people are born with a natural advantage, success starts with the understanding that anyone can improve and grow.
This post will detail 10 reasons why a growth mindset is a key to success in athletes, such as higher levels of perseverance, increased self-esteem, and more motivation to continue working hard. We will also discuss how you can develop your own growth mindset if you’re not naturally born with it.
Countless studies have shown that a growth mindset has several benefits, including improved performance and motivation. However, a growth mindset is not sufficient on its own. You also need to implement the right tactics to make it work for you in your sports.
1. A growth mindset gives you the courage to persevere in the face of challenges
If you accept that your skills can develop with time and effort, then a setback becomes a challenge to overcome instead of something to get frustrated about. It’s normal for athletes to feel like they’ve “hit a wall” or are in a “rut.” If you find yourself saying things like, ‘I’ll never be able to do this,’ your mindset might be holding you back.
Instead, if you believe that you can develop and improve your skills, then an obstacle becomes a challenge to overcome. After all, if you can’t improve something, then why even bother with it?
It’s easier to get angry at an obstacle than to view it as a challenge that can be dealt with. In fact, anger is actually one of the most common emotions experienced by athletes (which we will discuss in more detail later).
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of being resilient in the face of adversity:
In these first two examples, Drew Brees’s famous last-second touchdown pass against the Patriots is not seen as an unfortunate event that can’t be repeated, but something to learn from. Even when things go really bad for Brees, he doesn’t wipe his hands clean and throws in the towel. Instead, he continues to fight and persevere.
The same can be said for basketball star Stephen Curry. Even when he got knocked out of the 2015 NBA playoffs early due to a knee injury, he didn’t blame his team’s loss on the injury or himself. Instead, he credited the Warriors’ performance and said that it was a “blessing in disguise” for him to be knocked out of the playoffs early.
2. A growth mindset leads to a stronger motivation to keep working
Once you’ve adopted the belief that you can improve, then a setback becomes a challenge that can be overcome. Even if you’ve reached the limits of your current skills, or found yourself falling behind, then you will still want to keep working hard and improve. This increase in motivation leads athletes to overcome their shortcomings and persevere.
In the same way that athletes use a growth mindset to encourage improvement, they can also use it to motivate persistence and perseverance. Want your sports to be more enjoyable and more enjoyable? Then you’ll need to develop your own personal motivation.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of motivating themselves:
In these first two examples, LeBron James’s famous “The Decision” speech is seen as an opportunity for the athlete to become the best player in the world, rather than as a failure. He doesn’t say, “I blew it” or “It’s all my fault.” Instead, he encourages everyone to join him on his journey – his “journey to greatness” where he will overcome all obstacles.
Michael Jordan’s famous quote seems to encourage the process of repeated failure and perseverance instead of focusing on the end result. He famously said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
3. A growth mindset leads to improved self-esteem and mental toughness
One of the biggest obstacles that you will face as an athlete is the criticism that comes with losing. No matter how careful you are with your words, there will be critics. But a growth mindset can help you deal with this by increasing your self-esteem and mental toughness.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of dealing with criticism:
In these two instances, Leicester City’s underdog championship has been praised as an incredible feat. Even though the team lost their first three matches and finished 13th in their first season in the Premier League, they were still applauded for achieving such a successful feat. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters: being happy with your accomplishments, especially if you worked hard to achieve them.
Michael Jordan’s speech after the Dream Team’s disappointing loss is also a great example of “pumping yourself up” and using a growth mindset to improve your self-esteem. He said, “I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Jordan doesn’t view failure as an embarrassing experience, but rather as something that can be used to succeed in the future.
4. A growth mindset leads to the right performance mindset
Because a growth mindset is focused on improvement, it naturally leads to more effort and hard work. Even if you’re struggling to improve at first, it will eventually pay off. The extra effort that comes with a growth mindset can also become an important part of your performance mindset.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of focusing on hard work:
In these two instances, Michael Phelps’s incredible record-breaking achievements are something to celebrate and not set off about. If Phelps had focused on his failures instead, he would have never achieved anything. Instead, he focuses on his successes to work towards even more goals. The same can be said for the suffocating defeat that we associate with LeBron James. Instead, he focuses on his individual successes and how they can help him win in the future.
5. A growth mindset leads to persistence and perseverance in the face of failure
Once you’ve developed your own growth mindset, you will be more motivated to persevere even when things are not going well. You will still continue to try because there is no point in quitting when it’s not giving you the results that you want. For example, you may be struggling to practice a certain technique, but if you view your effort as something that will eventually pay off, then it’s easier to persevere.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of perseverance:
After many years of losing and failing, the Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016. That winning moment was a reward for their perseverance and resilience, and a great example of how people can build their own growth mindset. Think about it: if the Cubs had given up after losing for so long, then they would never have achieved their goal.
The Australian Rules Football team Richmond in 2017 after 37 years of trying . Their determination, perseverance and resilience paid off.
6. A growth mindset leads to the ability to ignore your failures and successes
The beauty of a growth mindset is that it allows you to ignore your successes and failures. You can focus on improving without the pressure of being perfect all the time. If you’re playing a sport for fun, then there’s no reason for you to feel guilty about losing or letting yourself down. Just keep working hard towards your goals, and don’t let anyone hold you down from achieving them.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of ignoring their failures:
After the devastating loss to the New York Knicks, LeBron James says that he isn’t worried about his critics. While many people see him as a failure, he doesn’t see things that way. Instead, he turns to his team and with a little humor and determination, encourages them to keep improving.
Bobby Fischer has been known to ignore any advice or criticism because he focuses on his own growth. He would never focus on the loss that he caused or the scandal that surrounded him but instead would focus on his improvement and how it can help him become a better player in the future.
7. A growth mindset leads to non-judgmental thinking
A growth mindset allows you to be more open-minded and non-judgmental about your failures, successes and mistakes. You don’t have to be your own worst critic because you know that you are always working on growth. The same goes for your teammates. You will be less likely to think negatively about them because they’re also working towards their goals.
When faced with a challenge, it’s easy to judge yourself and everyone else. But when you have a growth mindset, then it’s easier to see the big picture and handle challenges in a non-judgmental manner. That’s because you know that everyone is constantly trying to improve and you don’t want to get in the way of that.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of non-judgmental thinking:
Michael Jordan has been known to ignore his critics. He knew that worrying about what people said about him would only hold him back from achieving his best. Instead, he focused on his own growth and development as a player and allowed it to take its course.
8. A growth mindset leads to an appreciation of learning and effort
When you have a growth mindset, you will naturally appreciate the process of learning and improving. You will realize that effort, persistence and hard work are what you need to become better and achieve your goals. You may still be young in the game and on your way up, but even if you’re an age-based or elite athlete, it doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to success. You still need to work hard in order to get there.
9. A growth mindset leads to higher expectations
Most athletes set their goals and expectations too low, but they are still too hard to reach. It’s easy to see why: if you focus on limiting yourself, then you will take things slowly and never reach the top. On the other hand, when you have a growth mindset, then your expectations won’t be as low because you’ll know that you can achieve them through hard work.
In a sense, you’re always preparing yourself for the opportunity that is going to present itself. That’s why you have to be strict with yourself and high-aspect of your effort. You need to train hard and be the best that you can be in order for success to arrive at your doorstep.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of higher expectations:
In this video, Jeremy Lin talks about his commitment to his craft and growth mindset. Before his injury in January 2015, the Rockets had the opportunity to trade him and make a profit. They could have traded him for nothing or given him a minimum contract, but they decided to keep Lin and remain loyal because they knew that he could be a major contributor to the team.
10. A growth mindset leads to sacrifice
If you’re able to have a growth mindset, then you’re more likely to give up things that you love in order to achieve your goals. As an athlete, you have your own goals and aspirations that you need to achieve. While it’s nice to do things for self-expression and personal growth, you can’t give up anything that’s essential when it comes to attaining your dreams.
While most people will do whatever it takes in order to be successful, they still expect others to sacrifice as well. This can lead to resentment and tension on the team. And in some cases, it can even lead to the downfall of a team.
Here are a few examples of athletes who have mastered the art of sacrifice:
It’s rare to see an athlete in the NBA complain about not getting enough shots, with the notable exception of Kevin Durant. As a dominant scorer on other teams, he was used to getting his fair share. But when he joined the Warriors, he had to learn to give up his shots and focus on making his teammates better.
A growth mindset is essential for improvement, whether you’re an athlete or not. It’s easy to criticize yourself and give up when you fail because the ego takes over and prevents you from growing. But if you have a growth mindset instead, then you’ll be more likely to ignore failures and criticism because they are not excuses for giving up. Instead, they are just signals that you need to try harder and work towards your goals.
A growth mindset is the key to success in anything that you do. It is the path to improvement and it sets you up for greater heights of achievement. If you learn how to think like an athlete and how these athletes have mastered their growth mindsets, then you can apply that in your own life and reach new levels of success.