Tag Archives: growth

Choosing to Be Uncomfortable

Yesterday, Under Armour tweeted, “Which would you rather do? A) sprint the length of a football field 6 times or B) run 3 miles?” This was a no-brainer for me: Sprint 6 times. This wasn’t because sprinting 6 times is easier for me…but in fact, because I perceive it to be so much more difficult. I figured, I would rather do something that will challenge me and make me a better, faster runner.

I tend to choose the more challenging options most of the time and try to set goals that will push me out of my comfort zone. It’s not because I like to feel uncomfortable or want to be vulnerable, but because I know that it will push me to be better. This is true in all aspects of life. In fitness, your body does not change unless you get uncomfortable- increase the weights, do intervals, push the speed, and so forth. With nutrition, getting away from the “comfort” of foods that tend to be unhealthy (e.g., sugary or salty foods). And in relationships, taking emotional risks: letting people in and being vulnerable even though you’ve been hurt before and it’s incredibly scary.

Change quote. #rfdreamboard

I think the one thing that keeps us all from taking those risks (or me, at least), is because it’s not easy to be vulnerable and to be exposed to criticisms. Getting hurt is not fun, whether it’s physical or emotional. And when I talk about taking risks, I’m talking about calculated risks, not ones that are obviously dangerous. On the other hand, what happens when we don’t take those calculated risks? What do we miss out on?

Change Quotes | http://noblequotes.com/

As I wrote in a previous post, one thing that helps us to grow and get better is the willingness to be vulnerable, ask questions, be open to feedback and criticisms. Change is uncomfortable, so if you want it, challenge yourself! This mindset has definitely helped me out in all areas of my life: I’ve been able to increase my speed and get stronger; control my blood pressure; finish my Ph.D. in 5 years (when it can take anywhere from 5-7 years). I’m not saying that everyone should take this approach, but the research points to the benefits of taking risks and challenging yourself.

What are some things that you haven’t done because it’s too scary or too challenging? What gets in the way? Do something this week that is scary or challenging and report back!

How to Be an Expert

At this stage in my training and career, I still have the “impostor syndrome” at times; in certain situations, I definitely feel like I’m an impostor, that I don’t know as much as I really do, and that I’m incompetent. Some days I wonder, will I ever be considered an “expert” in a particular area, whatever being an expert means. These insecurities aside, I know that there are some secrets to excelling at whatever it is that you do in life.

The first is practice, or more specifically, deliberate practice. Studies (e.g., Ericsson, et al., 1993) have shown that it is not necessarily the length of time one spends engaged in the work/activity/sport/etc, but the intentional efforts to get better (e.g., asking for feedback, reviewing tapes, repeatedly doing the same or similar task, etc). No wonder my high school coach constantly yelled at us, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Asking for feedback and trying to learn what you can do better isn’t easy, as often times criticisms doesn’t do a lot for our self-esteems. I have definitely learned over the years, however, that asking what I could do differently or better has made me a better writer, clinician, and overall person in general.

This leads to my second point: having a growth-mindset, a concept that was developed by Carol Dweck and her colleagues. First, lets talk about the opposite: fixed-mindset. Individuals who have a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence is changeable (i.e., fixed) and as such, may value looking intelligent over trying to learn. Those who have a fixed mindset may give up on difficult tasks or opportunities because they fear looking stupid or inept (or insert any other perceived negative characteristic). This mindset leaves people stuck because they never take any risks or put themselves in situations in which they can learn more.

On the other hand, having a growth-mindset means that a person believes that they can learn and get better over time. Individuals who take this approach are more likely to take risks because they don’t fear failure or have negative thoughts about what failure means. This means that people with a growth-mindset are more likely to engage in deliberate practice and intentional efforts to get better (i.e, identifying areas of growth and working hard to improve).

So bottom line: to be an expert, you have to be willing to work hard, be willing to learn, be willing to receive feedback, and practice, practice, practice. 

Any ideas on how we can foster a growth-mindset in ourselves and in others? What are some things that get in the way of getting into a growth-mindset?