Don't Let a Fixed Mindset Slow Your BJJ Progress
Your Mindset Needs Trained As Much As Your Berimbolos
Stanford researcher Carol Dweck has studied and written extensively on the role of one's mindset on their life and performance. In simplest terms, she posits that people's mindsets generally fall into one of two main categories, these being the Fixed Mindset or the Growth Mindset.
A person who holds a fixed mindset believes that their intelligence, talents, and overall place in life are set in stone. All of the qualities that make us human beings are fixed traits and cannot be altered according to the person who holds this mindset. This person believes that their station in life is what it is, and they must simply find a way to be satisfied with that.
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Whereas conversely, a person who holds a growth mindset believes that each of those same traits are simply starting points from which to develop. Through perseverance and hard work, improvements can be made on each of these traits or talents. The person with a growth mindset does not believe that talent alone is enough to get through. This person believes that with hard work, any specific trait or skill can be improved or expanded upon.
Left unchecked a person with a fixed mindset will passively float through their lives simply accepting whatever happens to them, because that's the way things are supposed to be. The person with a fixed mindset is going to be afraid to take risks and challenge themselves, because they believe that there is no point and by taking a risk, they will expose themselves to unnecessary failures.
How can a fixed mindset impede your BJJ progress and how can you overcome it? In his latest release from BJJ Fanatics The Road to Black Belt and Beyond, Tom DeBlass addresses this and many more topics. Let's look at some ways BJJ challenges your mindset and how you can avoid the fixed mindset trap.
A Fixed Mindset May Never Start BJJ
A person who lives their lives dictated by a fixed mindset where they believe their intelligence, physical attributes, and overall place in the world are traits locked in cement will most likely not walk into their local BJJ Academy and take an introductory class. When this person is encouraged to come visit by a friend or advertisement, they will have their ready-made list of excuses ready. I'm too old. I am not athletic. I don't have time for new hobbies or activities.
Each of these and all of the others you can think of are simply mechanisms that the person with the fixed mindset uses to protect themselves and reinforce that mentality. It's much easier and safer to stay within your comfort zone and use the fixed mindset as a crutch to explain their state in life.
But if that persistent friend, BJJ instructor, or whatever impulse that inspired them to visit the local academy is successful, this tiny step can be the first step to helping them break the chains that the fixed mindset has on their life and happiness.
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>So if you haven't started BJJ yet and feel that a fixed mindset may be holding you back, look long and hard at your life and find the reason that will get you in the door for the first time. Whether you want to get into better shape, or learn some practical self defense skills, or some other reason it doesn't matter. Once you walk in and begin to give BJJ a try, you will see many other reasons and benefits developing over time.
This BJJ Move Doesn't Work for Me
Let's not fool ourselves. Our mindset does not simply work like a light switch. I don't turn off my fixed mindset one day and automatically turn on the growth mindset. Just because I walked into my local BJJ academy and took my first class, doesn't mean I automatically have a growth mindset. Yes, I've stepped outside of my comfort zone and challenged my ideas, but I'm not there yet. The fixed mindset like any challenging BJJ move, requires constant drilling and practice.
Early on as you begin to take more and more classes, you will be shown moves or techniques that might make you think you accidentally went to breakdancing class that day. It is easy to see a move once, try it once and fail at it and then to say "That move doesn't work for me." Or even worse, "This move sucks." The reality is that some moves require much more coordination and muscle memory to pull off effectively. Don't short cut yourself by assuming you cannot do a move. Keep working at it until that fixed idea begins to change and then you'll see growth and improvement.
In The Road to Black Belt and Beyond, Tom DeBlass shares many stories and insights about different aspects of mindset and how we can stay on course to reach our goals whether it is the BJJ black belt or more. In the series he tells the story of a law enforcement officer who also happened to be a bodybuilder and an overall large human. During one of his very first days of training, he was partnered with one of Tom's brown belt students who also weighed approximately 100 lbs less than the law enforcement bodybuilder.
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During that training session, the brown belt was able to mount the bodybuilder and maintain the control until finally the new student tapped to pressure and the feeling of being confined. After that experience, the 280 lb police officer never trained again. He simply could not allow his fixed mindset to be challenged. In his mind, he is a very strong, able-bodied, law enforcement officer and what happened to him on the mats was too much for him to handle and he never trained again.
Conversely, Tom often speaks of his student Garry Tonon and also Garry's first black belt Gordon Ryan and how they seemed to walk in the door with growth mindsets from the outset and were there to absorb techniques and develop their skills through long hours of training and effort.
It is easy to look at the careers of top tier BJJ athletes like Tonon and Ryan and say, "They're more talented then me. I could never do what they do and achieve what they've achieved." This is simply a way for us to take ourselves off the hook and reinforce our fixed mindsets. With some investigation and digging, they would come to find that athletes like Tonon and Ryan and their teams, train more each week then most people work in their full time jobs.
People like Gordon Ryan do not get their black belts in less than 5 years because they are talented. What people fail to realize is that in that 5 years, Gordon Ryan probably amassed more time on the mats than the average practitioner gets in 15 years.
Compare Yourself to You Yesterday Not Them Today
It is far to easy to stand there amongst the other white belts and think to yourself that you don't have the same skills or talents as them. One of the best examples of this is when a student has been training for a long time and they meet up with someone who is perhaps a D1 wrestler or perhaps has training in some other martial art in their repertoire. If you've not had this experience yet, hold on tight because you will eventually and it can be one of the most humbling experiences of your journey to black belt.
The most important thing is to recognize that this person has worked long and hard to develop the skills that they just used to wreck you (in a good way.) Nobody just becomes a D1 wrestler or a black belt in Judo for instance. They work long and hard to reach those goals. And those skills have direct implication to how your training with them will go. If you let a fixed mindset come across you like a black cloud after that session, you may say to yourself, "I'm never going to be good at jiu jitsu, or as a purple belt, I should be able to do better against these people." Sadly, our bodybuilder example above let the fixed mindset stop them from ever returning again.
But if you want to are to continue in the journey and get the most out of it, you will learn to look at these tough training sessions as opportunities to challenge yourself and get better. By going home and reflecting on what happened and coming up with a purposeful game plan to get better and improve yourself is the healthiest way to react. Compare yourself to you yesterday, not someone else today.
For more help developing a growth mindset and many more topics, you need to check out Tom DeBlass' latest release The Road to Black Belt and Beyond from BJJ Fanatics. You can get your copy here! All of the fancy moves you add to your arsenal won't help you if you don't develop your mindset to make it to the black belt and beyond!