Have you ever wondered why elite athletes achieve greater success in their respective sport compared to everyone else? What separates Lebron James from Gerald Green? Tom Brady from Tony Romo, Serena Williams from Lauren Davis? You might think their physical ability is what separates them, and you might be right if we were comparing these great athletes to you or I. But physical ability is not the differentiating factor for professional athletes.. According to Dr. David Hesse Sports Scientist in Psychology, the biggest disparity between good and great athlete success, is their mindset.
What Does It Mean to Be an Athlete?
You may or may not consider yourself an “athlete” but adopting the mindset of an elite athlete can help you in all aspects of your life. Webster defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina”. I think of an athlete as someone working towards a specific fitness or performance based goal. Being an athlete is more than just the physical component that defines you; it includes your mental game as well.
The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. A mindset, according to Dweck, is a self-perception or “self-theory” that you have about yourself. Believing that you are either “talented” or “not talented” is an example of a mindset. You may be aware or unaware of your mindsets, according to Dweck, but they can have profound effect on learning achievement, skill acquisition, personal relationships, professional success, and many other dimensions of life.
There are two distinct mindsets, “fixed” and “growth”. According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities are simply fixed traits. People with this mindset don’t spend time developing their abilities. They also believe that talent alone creates success without effort.
If you have a growth mindset, you believe your abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, intelligence and talent. . This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. If you embrace the growth mindset you will accomplish more, accomplish your goals quicker and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve your abilities and skills.
Separating Good from Great
The greatest athletes in the world have a growth mindset. One thing they all have in common is they “buy in” to the process of what it takes to truly maximize talent and their abilities. Every detail of their day is planned and strategic to make them better in some way shape or form from the day before. They are trying to maintain the highest level of performance for as long as possible. You may not be Lebron James, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams, but we can all look at what they do that makes them great, and apply it to our own lives and personal situations. Whether you’re looking to make a team, reach a fitness goal, or just striving to be your best self, adopting a growth mindset will allow you to maximize your abilities and potential so you can accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations.