As we continue to live under a shadow of uncertainty, many are experiencing what experts are calling “ COVID- 19 SHOCK”. It’s no surprise that if we want to survive through these unprecedented times, there has to be a critical change in our lifestyle and a re-examination on our part on how we approach a crisis. There are several soft skills you can cultivate, in order to deal with such an ‘uncharted terrain’, but the biggest impact in the end will come from the way you have learned to see things; your mindset.
To paint the picture, let’s go back to 24th August 2004, Athens Olympics, 200mts heats. Usain Bolt, then 17 years old, made the Jamaican Olympic team for one race in the Greek capital — the 200m. He came to the Games with the second fastest time in the world in the event in 2004. As the gun goes, he takes off, exhibiting the athletic dexterity he is so distinguished for. In the home straight however, his speed tails off and he crosses the line 5th, his Olympic experience was concluded before it even really commenced.
Now this is where the tale unfolds and gives a path to two story lines, each as true-to-life as the other.
In the first, Bolt concludes that his failure to go further in Athens is suggestive of his privation of talent. The hurdles in his road to success seems too big, and the enormity of the labor needed to pursue his dreams must mean he doesn’t have what it takes to be the elite athlete he had dreamed of. Later in the games he watches Shawn Crawford sprint to victory, and walks away from the sport for good, accepting he simply wasn’t up to the task.
Now the second plot may sound more familiar to you. Usain Bolt and his coach sit and scrutinize the errors made as a sign of the capacity Bolt demonstrates in reality. They work vigorously for four years, discovering what best training suits Bolt, capitalizing on his strengths and building up his weaknesses. He takes all the challenges as learning opportunities, feedback as fuel and obstacles as tests of his own labor. By the time the 2008 Olympics came around, he secured victory in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. And to this day, his legacy is that of the fastest man in the world.
Now this particular two-story line exemplifies two opposing mindsets, as outlined by Carol Dweck in her groundbreaking psychological research.
A mindset can be defined as a person’s way of thinking and their opinions.
The first is a fixed mindset, in which individuals believe that their talent, intelligence and capabilities are determined and unalterable. And if they fail at something, they take it as a sign of their lack of talent and avoid the task at all costs to protect their self-esteem.
The second is the growth mindset, on which most high performers thrive on. Those with a growth mindset are open to challenges and use failures as lessons, something they can learn from. A growth mindset, as argued by Dweck, leads to people trying to be the best version of themselves, and therefore being more likely to fulfil their potential.
With the COVID-19 shock possessing a “growth mindset” has never been more important than now. The world is changing at an incredibly fast pace, and there are new challenges we must face every day. Our way of life is changing, norms are changing, and we must keep up and adjust to all of these changes. This is why having a growth mindset is so necessary. The underlying and constant feeling of uncertainty during these times may trigger periods of low productivity at the workplace. Either in times of crisis or not, either in personal or in career life, those with a growth mindset will find it easier to reach positive outcomes through innovation and resilience
As we are forced to take on new challenges, face new uncertainties, and recover from mistakes in the Covid-19 era, it’s important to begin to internalize that your own abilities are not fixed, but rather can be developed.
While it’s nice to talk about the benefits of a growth mindset, learning a new practice is challenging and the lack of immediate, measurable progress can be discouraging. Forgive yourself, and be generous with others — try to focus on the effort being put in and the valuable insights you’re learning from that effort, rather than the lack of immediate results.
When it comes to developing a growth mindset, the very word ‘growth’ can help you cultivate a growth mindset.
W: Working the Controllable
Amidst self reflection it’s also important to become self aware. Start to pay attention to the words you speak , even the words in your mind. If your words are self-downing or self-defeating, the results may be also . So watch yourself. Listen to what you are saying and thinking. Censor yourself and become your own guide. Replace negative thoughts with more positive ones to build a growth mindset.
While the Covid-19 crisis presents a variety of new challenges, it also creates new opportunities for individuals to cultivate a more expansive growth mindset in themselves. Though it won’t be easy, the right mindset can help you to better coordinate, innovate, and own your own futures, making it possible not only to weather the crisis, but to come out of it stronger.
~ Authored by Varadayini Gorhe Sport Psychologist, Mind Your Fitness!
(Assisted by Triveni Kulkarni)
The team will suggest an integrated plan based on the report.