Smashing Paradigms – Growth Mindset and Pole Vaulting

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

pole vaulter

So, what do you see ?

A perhaps apocryphal story has Sir Bill Gammell (leading Scots entrepreneur and international athlete) taking a group of Scottish businessmen on a trade mission to visit the Australian Institute for Sport, around which are many statues representing sports and athletes.

Bill asks the group what they see when they look at this particular statue

He heard a variety of answers, such as :

  • “he’s almost over the bar but not quite”
  • “he’s cleared the bar but only just”
  • “he’s just knocked the bar off as he was going over”
  • “if you keep trying, you can clear the bar” etc. etc.

Bill Gammell’s response was simply……….. “there is no bar”

The unconscious belief carried by the group was that there is a bar, a limit to what can be achieved.

No, there is no bar.

One more story in this vein, told to me by Darren Mew, Olympic swimmer and coach. Darren told me of the time he broke his first UK national swimming record. The night before he had a dream of swimming, winning the race, looking up at the scoreboard and seeing a time that would be a new British record. Come race day, to his amazement, he finished, looked up and saw that EXACT time on the scoreboard ! He went straight to his coach and told him the story. His coach looked at him calmly, and simply said: “So, Darren, how fast would you have gone if you didn’t have that time in your mind ?

Now, to Growth Mindset. Bill Gammell has a Growth Mindset, Darren Mew recognised through powerful coaching he too could have a growth mindset.

The concept of Growth Mindset comes from Professor Carol Dweck. As I absolutely passionate about smashing paradigms around how we educate our children, I will take this opportunity to let Carol explain this in the context of education in this animation.

A summary of Growth vs Fixed Mindset from a nice article here from an attendee of an evening Entrepreneurial Scotland hosted with Bill Gammell :

“People with fixed mindsets believe that if they’re not good at something, they’re unlikely to get better, whether it be studying, playing sport or learning to code. They tend not to like challenging things as they only serve to prove that they’re not smart or capable.

Gammell argues that people need to embrace the opposite of this: the growth mindset. The growth mindset is an understanding that when it comes to your personal abilities, there’s always room to learn, to improve, to grow. Someone with a growth mindset doesn’t run from challenges, they embrace them. They understand that putting oneself in challenging situations is what makes us better, they understand that diamonds are formed under pressure.”

How is your mindset ? What can you do to adopt even more of a Growth mindset across your life and work ?



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