Having lounged with my favorite pairing of lemon sparkling water & a good book most of the day at the beach, I was ready to run, but as I rounded the last couple of blocks, my legs told me to stop. I didn’t. In fact, I ran a little harder which ended up in a painful hamstring injury and a good lesson for me. No running, no cycling, and even walking was difficult, especially steps or hills, and five and a half months later, it hasn’t fully healed.
My hamstring experience reminds me of Dr. Carol Dweck’s work on mindset, and the very powerful role our beliefs play on what happens to us. A fixed mindset assumes that our intelligence and ability is fixed and we can’t change it in any meaningful way, and success is measured against something static. The goal is striving for success and avoid failure. The growth mindset, however, thrives on challenges and sees failure not as proof of not being intelligent, but a real opening for growth and expanding our abilities.
So all of this sounds reasonable in a book or on paper, but it was pretty frustrating when I couldn’t count on my regular exercise routine to do the trick. It felt like I was failing when I couldn’t walk a quarter of a mile, stand on one leg in yoga or get on an elliptical machine for more than a few minutes. I started to dread any kind of workouts. Even though I may think I have a growth mindset, it’s really easy to get hooked in a fixed mindset.
What began to open for me, however, was a way to finally see this injury as an opportunity for a different experience. I had to start over and stop thinking about things as fixed and a place of measurement. Over this summer, I began to find new ways to workout, and they felt more holistic and nourishing to my mind and body. I was pausing to really focus on the breath in yoga, feel the new strength in the upper body & core strength training, and even try something new, swimming. Having a growth mindset reminded me to figure out what I could learn and how to be open to what our challenges can show us if we let them.
Is there an area of your life where you could have more of a growth-mindset? Where is resistance showing up for you? Where can you turn a frustration into something that could work for you?