Have the mindset of a champion By Jean Dorff

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Have the mindset of a champion.

In her book, ‘Mindset the New Psychology of Success’, Carol Dweck says: “In sports everybody believes in talent. Even -or especially- the experts. In fact in sports is where the idea of ‘a natural’ comes from, someone who moves like an athlete and is an athlete, all without trying. So great is the belief in natural talent that many coaches search only for talents”.

She continues to write: “As much as our culture talks about individual effort and self-improvement, deep down we revere the naturals. We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary”.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ suggest that: “people prize natural endowment over earned ability”.

Gladwell shows that champions on average put in at leas 20% more training hours than the performers one tier below them.

There is an almost endless list of ‘non natural’ athletes who made big achievements against all odds and despite all recommendations to “do something else”. Among them are: – Glenn Cunningham, the great runner, who when he was young, burned and damaged his legs badly. He discovered that running for him was less painful than walking; – Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball team and refused by two NBA teams before he became the best basketball player ever; – Muhammad Ali, from which boxing experts said that he didn’t have the right physical measurements to be a top boxer.

Sadly but true, the list of people with exceptional talent that didn’t make it to the top is may be even longer. Things went so well for them early in their career that they never developed a fighter’s mentality to overcome any roadblocks or adversity.

As talent can be developed, so can character and mindset be trained. Dweck concludes her chapter on ‘the mindset of a champion’ with:

“Athletes with a growth mindset find success in learning and improving, not just winning”.

(Carol Dweck PH.D. is a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist who did decades of research on achievement and success.)


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