Growth mindset!!! Believe me, this stuff really works!

Following on from my last article, for which I would like to thank all the readers for their kind comments and ‘likes’, I want to spotlight an event that recently took place involving one of our karate students. She is just 11 years old and I would like to use her experience and journey as an interesting and reflective reference to my last article.

Let me set the scene… Through karate, I have known this sweet, petite, shy little girl for many years. Last Saturday, she took her black belt exam at just 11 years old.

I’ve coached her, watched her train hard and seen her develop over the years. Her approach to learning is a breath of fresh air – always smiling, listening and giving her best.

I spoke to her Father following her grading examination and he said this to me: “Whilst driving to the venue for the black belt grading, I said to my daughter, the only advice I can give you to provide you with a real chance of getting your black belt is to try and control your emotions.”

That was superb advice as control and regulation of emotions is key to success. This applies to children but the ability to remain calm and focused is crucial for adults when dealing with stressful circumstances too.

The story continues…

His daughter, ventured into the unknown when she was called up onto the mat to undertake her exam in front of many people she had never seen before, including the 2 most senior figures in the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB).

The result…

SHE PASSED! At 11 years old, she achieved her black belt in karate!

After the hugs and congratulations her father said to her: “How do you feel?”

She replied: “I don’ really know Dad, I just stood up when my name was called and did what they asked me to do, then sat down again, I don’t really remember it Dad!”

What an amazing response from her, just an innocent riposte to her Father’s question. I would now like to transpose her experiences into some rich learning and development that many of us should consider as adults when facing the challenges of life inside and outside of work.

Let’s list them

Zone of Performance

Firstly, this 11-year-old girl demonstrated so perfectly that she had found and entered into ‘the zone’ of performance. She found the sweet spot and nailed everything that was asked of her. She was in a state of flow as she was experiencing the perfect balance of neurochemicals i.e. dopamine for positivity and norepinephrine for alertness. A relaxed state is essential too. It’s normal that sometimes the experience becomes a blur post event. All the training, learning, repetition and preparation just took over with little conscious thought occurring. It has been proven that we can actually work on ourselves to achieve this condition and experience a state of flow.

Growth Mindset

As I suggested in my previous article, the karate dojo is a growth mindset environment, but she was tested in new and strange surroundings – something that we all have to face on a regular basis.

Precepts or Laws

Then she took on the precepts I also alluded to in my last article and ultimately showed enormous respect to, let’s call it in this instance, her place of faith i.e. the dojo!

I’m adding another 2 precepts into this piece for my readers to digest…

Precept 11. Karate is like boiling water. If you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.

My translation to this starts with the word ‘heat’. For me this means commitment; it’s the fire in our bellies to strive to achieve. If we back off then we lose momentum, direction and belief and then fire goes out.

Our student trained for years in this hugely challenging but learning environment and discovered so much about herself even at the tender age of 11. Her life has now changed forever. She will be a black belt for the rest of her life! Imagine her confidence levels and how it may affect so many other aspects of her life – school, exams, social experiences and dealing with situations outside of her comfort zone. It certainly changed my life when I got my black belt!

Surely if we adopt a similar mindset to accomplish our goals then the same benefits, relatively speaking, will result? To keep the water of achievement boiling we need to keep the fire of mental commitment alight.

Precept 6. Always be ready to release your mind.

When you are dedicated to high-performance learning and development in whatever format, let your hard work, training and preparation do the talking. There is no need to let you and your thoughts get in the way of your progress, just let it happen.

My final reference relates to the ‘goal setting’ approach to coaching and in fact life in its entirety. I personally use goal setting with the brain in mind as part of my coaching engagement both in life and corporate applications. I’ve read various articles that imply that goal setting can create voids in people and having goals actually makes you focus on something that you do not currently have. Also the goal pulls us into the future as opposed to being more present in our lives, living in the moment.

Well, I’m about to put over a strong case that goal setting is the most effective, wonderful and impactful way to effect change in our lives.

Let’s use the young student as an example and karate again as the metaphor. She entered the dojo as a white belt with the goal to become a black belt one day.

Any goal needs to be moulded and polished into an inspirational but achievable objective, so when you think of it the buzz of excitement occurs within you.

What we do as coaches is then facilitate a clear, refined and defined solution-focused process to attain the goal in question, always with the client’s agenda in mind. It’s a journey that involves lots of actions, effort, commitment and trust that supports a positive state of mind and the opportunity to create insights and build new habits and skills.

Goals can undoubtedly stretch you to enter zones of peak performance.

With this method the client can remain present, living moment by moment with the comfort of knowing that if they stick to the process the goal is theirs! This generates incredible motivation, inspiration and satisfaction. The plan takes care of everything.

Create the goal, set the strategy and actions to reach it, commit to the end result and then we will take you on your journey to reach it.

For our 11-year-old karate student this process was simpler I know, as she has not experienced life to the same extent as an adult. It is said that we are the sum total of the thoughts and actions that we have experienced to date. Our upbringing, environment, education, career and other influences produce mental barriers and self-limitations over time and these characteristics become part of who we are.

The principle objective for this piece is to show everyone that there is nothing stopping us to effect real change in our lives by approaching various situations in the same way as the young karate student.

Once again, we can accomplish great things.

Phil Toogood

The school of Inspiration #growthmindset

‘Define your success’