What is your ‘A’ to getting mentally fit?

A Z Introductory Image
A-Z to getting mentally fit program.

A – 20th January – 3rd February

What is your ‘A’ to getting mentally fit?

For our A activity, the team at Get Mentally Fit are going to try archery. We are sick of driving past the archery centre down the road, saying ‘we really want to try that one day, I’ve heard its really popular and fun’.

Go to an A-musement park or arcade, do some A-rt indoors or learn to play the A-ccordian (Micky M) and upload a tune for us to all listen to.

If you’re thinking of setting up an activity with your children, maybe check out this resource or you could modify the ideas from this resource to suit older participants.

What does the research say?

This section draws on Carol S Dweck’s bookmindset changing the way you think to fulfil your potential’ and other supporting articles (see the ‘Want to learn more?’ section at the end of this article).

You may be quite familiar with the term ‘growth mindset’ as it has been spruced as the most positive way to face challenges.

But…What is a growth mindset? Are you simply able to implement a growth mindset when you need it? and…Are growth mindset and mental toughness closely related?

Firstly, let’s break down the terms…

A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves.

A fixed mindset – people adopt the fixed belief that they are either “smart” or “dumb” and there is no way to change this, they tend to shy away from challenges (since poor performance might either confirm they cannot learn and they aren’t as smart as they thought).

Dweck recognises that many successful people are consumed with the goal of constantly proving themselves, in their careers and relationships. They often appear gifted from a young age. They look for confirmation of their talent, intelligence, personality, or character. They rigidly evaluate every situation: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected?

*Isn’t it normal, in many societies, to value talent, intelligence, personality, and character? This is potentially short-sighted and instead we should focus more value on perseverance, a bravery to learn and creative problem solving.

A growth mindset – people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

These people don’t resign to feeling stuck with the hand their dealt, trying to convince others they have a Royal flush when they actually have a pair of tens.

Someone with a growth mindset believes their basic qualities are things that can be cultivated through their efforts, strategies, and with help from others. They would prefer to overcome deficiencies rather than hiding them. They seek out partners and friends who will challenge them to grow, rather than simply shoring up their self-esteem.

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A scenario from the two mindsets…

You try archery for the first time and frankly, find out that you are not particularly good at it and it’s very disappointing when you can’t even hit the outer target. Where do you go from here?

With a fixed mindset: you would interpret this as you were a reject; a failure; or an idiot; and that the instructor had it in for you because you had a clash of personalities. You would be worried that everyone was better than you and you would have been put off by their success. You would resign to the fact that your talent is inadequate for sports, which you cannot change very much.

With a growth mindset: you would identify that you need to try harder in future sessions. Framing this challenging activity as a learning experience, you would work harder for the remainder of the archery program to improve your skills and enjoyment. You would understand and identify that you can learn new things and always positively change your skills and intelligence around sporting activities if you desire this outcome.

*Through studies, Dweck presented that people with a fixed mindset are terrible at estimating their abilities, having inflated views of themselves, while it was found that people with a growth mindset were amazingly accurate.

BUT HANG ON… Can I be half and half as I recognise both mindsets in myself?

All of us have elements of both mindset, often depending on the context of the activity or challenge – we are all a mixture of fixed and growth mindset and we can all positively develop our mindset if we are mindful of our thoughts and actions during activities.

Growth Mindset Model

Where might you start?

Although people may differ in talent and aptitude, interests or temperament, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

To assist with instigating a growth mindset, Carol Dweck’s famous suggested self-talk line is a useful place to start. Remember: 

                                                                          “I’m not good at this … yet”.

Success, is about lifelong learning and not proving you are smart.

In the Australian Curriculum, lifelong learning is defined as: ‘the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge, understanding and skills development for either personal or professional reasons.’

This ultimately enhances personal development, competitiveness and employability. 

Scott’s (The Educator’s) Rant: It will be the endless pursuit for us as educators, parents, and leaders to nurture a growth mindset in ourselves, colleagues, each other, and our children. Then the anxiety provoking focus on results, which I have witnessed first-hand in schools, will be replaced with the joy of discovery, creativity, innovative collaborations and safety for learning from failures.

Success for all of us could ideally be about learning and becoming rather than being.

What activity can you try?

As we have an international group of participants, we are very mindful of the diverse set of social restrictions that we all have. Depending on your social landscape you could choose to undertake one of the activities outlined above (A-rchery,  A-rt inside etc) or creatively pick an activity that you are capable of doing, and interested in, that starts with the letter ‘A’.

As another example, you could host an ‘A-lphabet dinner party’ where you pick three letters randomly and challenge yourself to prepare a 3-course meal using three main ingredients starting with these letters. ‘A’ for antipasta, ‘P’ for pasta, and ‘C’ for chocolate cake.

*Feel free to undertake your chosen activity on your own, with family members, different friends, colleagues, and professional networks, or even each other.

Ensure you implement deliberate practice (conscious effort even when it is uncomfortable) in your chosen activity to encourage a growth mindset.

Want to learn more?

We have deliberately divided the further learning sections into three tiers of research.

  1. Lounging on the beach or heading out for a casual snorkel – light research.
  2. Air-tank assisted buddy dive – more depth in the research and challenging (good for your growth mindset).
  3. Deep dive into the splendorous depths – rigorous, latest academic research and a essential piece to mental fitness.
*Lounging on the beach or heading out for a casual snorkel…

Articles and Blogs

*What exactly is growth mindset, anyway? 

*Changing education for ever.

*Air-tank assisted buddy dive…

Video

The power of believing you can improve.

Open Access Papers

Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’

*Deep dive into the splendorous depths…

Book

Mindset. Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. By Carol S. Dweck.

Academic article

The Neuroscience of growth mindset and intrinsic motivation by Betsy Ng 

Join in the conversation at the A – Z to getting mentally fit Facebook group to share in  more about the happenings around What is your A?

If you enjoyed reading about and participating in this fortnight’s activity, we would be grateful if you’d share the links to our articles’ page and the Facebook group. This helps others find these resources so we can all thrive together.

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