The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between

You Must Own It – pt 8B

This whole series of posts started after I re-read Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated book.  In it, he describes how great performance is almost ALWAYS earned, and not bestowed upon a rarefied few.  How deliberate and planned practice, day after day, year after year is what separates those that reach the upper echelons of any field versus those that simply attribute that earned greatness for “Talent,” and therefore discredit the amount of hard work went into making that greatness.

Combined with Carol Dweck’s book (and in my opinion, an essential read), Mindset on how the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset effects every single aspect of our lives and I’ve come to notice what should be a given fact, but rarely is – our lives are of our own making.

So simple in statement, so rare in practice.

Sure, some people may be naturally gifted, some may be naturally skinny or naturally good at art.

But what does that have to do with YOUR life?

It means that you are NOT limited by where you start.  Everyone starts at different places in their lives, with different natural talents.

It’s not where you start, but where you’re willing to go, that matters.

Are you willing to OWN the responsibility for your life or are you going to continue to thwart your responsibility by looking for the easy way out?

Are you willing to do the work in order to be more “gifted”?

Are you willing to do the work that will give you the body, the health you want  and keep you there?

Are you willing to learn the processes that can improve your ability in art?

The bottom line with all of these questions is, do you believe that you are capable of change?

Do you believe your identity is locked?  Do you believe hard work means that you are “less talented” and therefore bad?  Or do you believe that hard work means that you are working in becoming who you want to be?

These fundamental questions reveal what mindset you have.  And if you are to change those Fundamental Beliefs that underlie your outlook (and hence actions) on life, you must start realizing that almost NO ONE has gotten to where they ultimately want to be, and were happy with those results, by luck, serendipity or “talent” alone.

Thomas Edison’s quote that “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” is dead on.

So what should you do to change these beliefs?

1 – Start by recognizing your own thoughts on failure and success.

Do you recognize that anything in life is malleable and that you have the ability to change?  That you can and will continue to grow?  That you are not limited by your past, by your genetics or by your current condition?

2 – Allow the Growth Mindset to become your own. Allow yourself to make mistakes without feeling like a “failure” but instead a success, for having learned a method that hasn’t worked for you at this particular time.  The more you learn, the closer you inevitably are to the life you want.

Try to realize that not only can you grow, but that holding onto your ego’s picture of yourself isn’t serving you or the body you want.

3 – Try to move past an All-or-Nothing mentality.   Allow yourself to make mistakes, to “Fall off the wagon” and pick yourself back up.  Recognize that mistakes are a part of life and a part of the process of the responsibility of the ownership of your life.

4 – When you do fall, re-commit to the changes you want to see and continue on your journey.

Here are three bonus steps to get you started on your journey to a Growth Mindset with exercise.

A – Identify your beliefs about the roles you have in your life.  Do you believe you can grow into an “exerciser,” ”runner” or “bodybuilder” or do you think “Exercise is not for you” and therefore fixed.

B – Read and notice stories of people that have succeeded and changed after past failures.  Learn stories of people who have failed numerous times before becoming “successful.”

Embed into your psyche that falling does not equal failing.   That you always have the power to change your situation for the better, but that it takes time and work.

C – Read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset.  This is especially true if you don’t have the “Growth” mindset.  If you do have it, in all areas of your life, I would still suggest it, so that you can better understand those that don’t have the mindset.  For less than $10 on Amazon, it’s definitely worth it.

With that said, I will leave you with a quote from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset that so succinctly wraps up this whole post:
Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.”


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4 comments found

  1. I don’t believe in juice now because of you.

    But it’s true, I’ve talked to others about loosening their beliefs on exercise and it’s something many people don’t stop to think about… oftentimes it’s a belief in and of itself that these beliefs are “a part of who I am” when in actuality, most are perfectly malleable.

    I’ll trade you China Study for your copy of Mindset… lol.

  2. “…great performance is almost ALWAYS earned, and not bestowed upon a rarefied few. ..”

    You could train 1000 average people to the extent that Usain Bolt trains, and he will STILL out-sprint them every time. You could sketch hours a day for the rest of your life and you will still NOT be as good as Albrecht Durer, no matter how much you want to be. You will get better, but to suggest that you can become the very best simply by effort and desire is to fly in the face of facts. The winners of (e.g.) Olympic competitions do not win simply because they train more than the person who comes second or because they are 0.001% more driven. You can dress it up as you like, but to ignore talent as an arbitor of success is as best disingenuous.

    1. Again, please don’t neglect the audience that I am trying to talk to, which is people who are of “average” physical genetics in this country.

      So, beyond physical genetics (aka, Usian Bolt with more fast twitch muscle fibers, higher achilles tendon placement, etc) and therefore, gifts, in every other example of greatness and achievement great performance is EARNED. Chess, mathematics, musical composers, and in sports.

      Michael Jordan, sure had great genetics, but he also had the hardest work ethic around. Jerry Rice did not have the best genetics for a WR in the NFL and yet many consider him not only the best receiver, but the best NFL player ever. He also had the most grueling of physical training in the off-season. Drew Brees is another example of a player who “doesn’t have a NFL quarterback body” but who works endlessly to improve. He just happened to not only make it in college, but was also last year’s Super Bowl MVP.

      And the winners of Olympic competitions do not win simply because they train more, because they all do, but because they also train smarter and they have genetic gifts. Give someone genetic gifts, take away a hard work ethic and that person is not in the Olympics. He’s at home watching it like the rest of us.

      So, basically, beyond physically genetic gifts, hard work, persistence and grit will win out, in almost any other endeavor and in almost every instance, including physically genetic gifts until you get to the 1% of the worlds best. So in other words, if you want to be in the top 99% of the worlds best in any specific endeavor, then work hard, work smart, persist and have grit. If not, then don’t…but the bottom line is that if you have a defeatist attitude, and not believe that you can achieve, then don’t even have a fighting chance.

      And if you’re not going to give yourself a fighting chance, then don’t argue with the people that are making it happen by giving themselves a fighting chance.

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More in You Must 'Own It' Series (3 of 12 articles)

Step 3 in "Owning It" ~ Adapting the Growth Mindset with fitness (if not overall), ...