As a kid growing up in a lot of shame, I did not believe I belonged. As an adult, it’s important for me to create environments of inclusive cultures.
The theme song of my life is from the television show Cheers. I have cultivated the AquaMonsters to be a place of belonging. Our team motto is Every Monster Matters.
It’s the place where everyone knows your name. Where we’re glad you’re here, and we all have our own obstacles to overcome.
I coach an 8 year old swimmer who is on the autistic spectrum. He really likes the water and has been enjoying being on the swim team since last fall. I was so excited we were able to convince his family to do some swim meets this summer, as we build upon his own personal growth and expand his comfort zone.
Then the next set of obstacles showed up. He was not winning his races and was getting mad about his performance, compared to his peers.
Comparison is the thief of happiness and is rooted in shame.
His frustration is due to his “fixed mindset” about his own abilities, which only perpetuated his shame storms. A fixed mindset assumes our abilities are already defined and that we can’t improve because we’re defined by what we can or can’t accomplish right now.
After a couple of lost races (and more frustration and anger), I told his mom, “Our goal is for him to develop a growth mindset. And that will take 8 years.”
You see, a growth mindset thrives on challenges and does not see failure as any sort of evidence of ability or future ability. Growth mindset sees obstacles as the path to overcoming.
Why 8 years?
To give him (and any of us) the space and time to allow for the learnings to occur. Often in this quick fix world we want immediate transformation. I often tell my clients I am NOT the fairy godmother who, with a wave of my wand can instantly transform you.
One of the main obstacles to cultivating a growth mindset is the desire for immediate transformation.
Instead, a growth mindset is about appreciating the obstacles and the overcoming … while trusting that we’ll truly be able to thrive and achieve our desired goals over time.
A growth mindset practice is messy, with a lot of falling down and frustration. This isn’t bad or wrong. This is the real path to cultivating what we truly want in our lives.
Be willing to make mistakes, feel crappy feelings and allow yourself to fall down. This is the path of growth mindset.
Then, get back up and keep going. I assure you, you will eventually cultivate your own growth mindset.