My face was getting closer to the ground and only my hands were supporting my weight. I had not ever committed to the crow pose in yoga to this degree but I wanted to push myself a little past my point of comfort today, to see if I could do it. It felt good and steady.
Then I started to tip forward. My face was the closest thing to the floor so I ducked my head and ended up doing a summersault across the ground and onto the mat of another yogi, knocking her out of her crow. I apologized profusely and turned back to my mat. “Dweck!” I said smiling under my breath.
Carol Dweck is a professor of Psychology at Stanford University and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, Dweck describes two mindsets she has experienced through research: the Fixed mindset and the Growth mindset. The Fixed mindset believes that we have as much intelligence/personality/ability today as we will ever have. The Growth mindset believes those traits can be expanded through effort.
In her years of research, Dr. Dweck has observed that many with a growth mindset get to the top of their profession even though they had no goal to do so. They get there because their constant improvement, learning, and excellent work puts them there. Incidentally, they also enjoy the path. Those with a Fixed mindset do not have any greater probability of getting to the top. They just take the traditional path we hear so much about: set a massive goal and you either have what it takes or you don’t. A primary difference between the two is that the Growth mindset can enjoy every day moving closer to excellence but the Fixed mindset only enjoys it when she reaches to ultimate goal. And if she does not reach the ultimate goal, life sucks.
So in the Growth mindset, we find success in the effort. And in my yoga practice, pushing for a crow pose is that effort. Why would we stay in the safe zone, right? In the traditional sense I failed; I fell out of the pose. But Dr. Dweck’s book is one reason why I laughed about it. Because I had already won by pushing beyond my point of comfort.
I know there are challenges you are looking at that are daunting and you may be tempted to turn to a path of more certain outcomes. I would encourage you to read Mindset with me and realize that turning onto the challenging path is the win.