There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. – Victor Hugo
I am a serial entrepreneur and no stranger to both success and failure. But there came an idea at the right time and I am seizing on it. It’s not the I’mPossible Run Club as a business idea, but rather a philosophy that I am now mature enough to understand and accept.
I read Mindset, a book by Carol Dweck and its impact has been profound.
Here, Dweck argues people have two types of mindsets. From her book:
FIXED MINDSET: An individual’s belief that their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.
GROWTH MINDSET: The belief that with practice, perseverance, and effort people have limitless potential to learn and grow. People operating in the growth mindset tackle challenges with aplomb, unconcerned with making mistakes or being embarrassed, focusing instead on the process of growth.
We all have a little bit of both. I defined myself as not athletic, bad at math, and unable to draw. Meanwhile, I considered myself reasonably smart, worldly, and could talk to anyone. Those notions were fixed in stone and defined me. Even after completing my third Ironman I still believed “I’m not really an athlete” because of that fixed view of myself (you can read more of my couch to Ironman story on my blog TriathlonMami.) When I was successful, I would revel in an accomplishment only to fear losing it.
My journey through life came with its inextricable dose of stumbles, but I didn’t see them as learning opportunities. Curve balls were bad and had to be avoided at all costs; I had to find ways to resolve conflict and challenges while saving face. In my largely fixed world, things either went well or didn’t go at all - they were abandoned with no explanation or regret.
Reading Dweck was a lightning rod. It was the information I needed at a time when I was mature enough and willing to hear it. I wanted more. I wanted my growth mindset to be much stronger than my fixed one.
It takes practice.
I began to welcome challenges, and to reframe failures not by trying to forget they ever happened … but see them as opportunities to learn how to NOT to do something. It’s such a simple, yet profound twist.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. - Thomas A. Edison
Armed with this new mindset goal, I was reminded of a story about Alexander the Great. Upon reaching the shores of Persia where his men were to be grossly outnumbered in battle, Alexander ordered his boats to be burned. With no other way out, he eradicated any thought of retreat. It was now simply victory or death. For him, it was victory.
This is the lesson: if you are going to set a goal … then burn the boats. Throw yourself in, and instead of hoping that it all goes well, or abandoning the goal in the face of the first challenge, tackle each obstacle, each problem squarely and tell yourself: how can I fix this? What am I learning not to do again? The ships are burned, abandoning this process is no longer an option.
The decision to switch my thought process has been one of the most powerful things I have done recently. It has allowed me to LISTEN when people are giving me advice because I am no longer wanting to protect my initial fixed idea, to CONCEED instead of stubbornly defend something that might not be working out as well as it could, to PUT MY BIG GIRL PANTS ON and handle a problem instead of avoiding it. The growth mindset is the right idea at the right time. Perhaps if I had read this a few years ago, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. But I am in my 40s … what if I could teach my kids who are still young to view life like this? What if they grew up with a growth mindset? How much more could they accomplish because they welcome challenges as a process of learning how to be successful?
I began implementing some of these lessons into the Run Club I led at my kids elementary school. Before I knew it, I began seeing results. I heard kids speaking differently about themselves, I received comments from both parents and teachers. These kids are learning to set goals, to view disappointment as a tool, to be resilient and moldable. They believe in themselves. They are light years ahead of where I was at that age.
And therefore I have documented the different experiences we had, the games we played and the lessons learned to transform it into the I’mPossible Run Club curriculum. I also have burned the boats and threw myself into making this club grow so that it’s empowerment message can spread. I KNOW the program works, I LOVE developing and implementing it, and I can’t wait to bump into walls and learn from the challenges that I will undoubtedly face as I expand it to a neighborhood near you.
Are you interested in bringing the I’mPossible Run Club to your school or community? Let’s talk!