Mindset, again. I’ve become interested recently in the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. (Ben Bergeron, Pursuit of Excellence podcasts, obsessed) Basically, having a fixed mindset means that you resign yourself to the fact that you / a situation is always going to be a certain way and that you have no power to change it, so why bother. Having a growth mindset means you see things as ever changing and that just because something is this way NOW, does not mean its that way forever, and it is completely within your control to bend what initially may seem like the confines of your situation and potentially change the outcome completely.
Here is an example, related to myself, because this is my blog. When I was a kid, like ten years old, I was really good at Maths. I was in the Smart Class (which is awesome for instilling arrogance at a young age), and I even helped other kids with their Maths. I had my times tables memorised as fuck and I was a legit nerd. I loved Maths…until I started Sewing class. I wasn’t a natural genius at this but I instantly LOVED it, and, as is my custom, I got some crazy desire to be the absolute best I could be at it.
When I first walked into the Sewing Room for my first lesson there was a stuffed Pterodactyl (you know, dinosaur bird) hanging in the window that some legend kid had made and for some reason I got it stuck in my head that I would fucking make one. I had no friends then (coz I was brought up super religious and was a freaky Jesus kid that other kids didn’t like), so I would go to the Sewing Room every lunchtime and work on this Pterodactyl, which as you can imagine was an absolute BITCH to make and half the time I would end up crying (I was ten remember) and unpicking half a wing that had taken me like a week of work. It literally took me like six months to make this fucking thing but my god it was worth it. Over twenty years on and I still recall the massive sense of accomplishment. Other kids were still piss farting around with their two dimensional felt mice with beads for eyes, and I had made a fucking dinosaur.
My point in this story is that it wasn’t being a natural genius that got me to the Pterodactyl level. I was just as shit at sewing as any other ten year old to start with. I was the kid who was good at Maths and English and all the boring stuff. Other kids used to take the piss outta me and ask me random geek trivia to see if I knew the answer, and then pretend to be my mate so they could try and copy my homework (get fucked). But I LOVED sewing, so I worked my ten-yearold ass off at it.
I became obsessed with it and sewed literally everything for the next five years until I realised that now kids were taking the piss outta me coz I wore clothes I had made myself (that were hideous). Now I buy them. Anyway. People get stuck in this fixed mindset where they just accept their lot. They’ve always been a certain way or always been bad at something so in their mind that’s it, like why bother trying? You’ve always been miserable so that’s just how things are, or you’ve never been happy in your relationship so that’s just how it will always be. Um. No it fucking isn’t.
The Pterodactyl Incident somehow instantly transferred me to the Art Kid box. I was no longer good at Maths because I was now a Creative Type. Nobody expected me to be good at Maths anymore because how can you be good at Maths AND Art, that’s not a thing. Which was fine by me because I much preferred drawing pirate ships and bleeding eyes on my Maths homework than actually trying to divide X by Y or whatever the fuck. All I did in high school was paint and take photos and write emotional and disturbing journals. (Which I discovered on my last visit back home, along with a drawing etched in my own blood). Incredibly what had happened is that I tried so fucking hard at something I wasn’t good at that I became better at it than something I was naturally good at in the first place. In my final exams at school I got 93% in Fine Art and 22% in Maths. This may also have had something to do with the fact I completed the entire test with a green highlighter, and no amount of expertly drawn pirate ships drawn on the back of the exam could save me.
I’ve been doing CrossFit for just over two years, and there’s no way I was naturally good at any aspect of it. I’m not exactly a Dottir now either, but considering two years ago I couldn’t even do an unassisted chin up, and this year in the Open I got 12 ring muscle ups, I’m happy. I was beyond rubbish at everything when I started, it took me six months to get just one double under and I couldn’t even snatch a barbell for about as long. I was fucking dreadful. Not having any sporting background AT ALL made it like learning a foreign language, written in my own blood, obviously. But I LOVED it.
I became addicted to the feeling of getting better, of seeing tiny improvements week after week, of just getting one more rep, or being slightly faster than last time, or going up a plate colour. But mostly the fact that I had proven to myself I could do something I had always been shit at. Id never been strong, or fast, or coordinated, or any of those traits that people expect sporty people to embody, but what I discovered is that these aren’t fixed things, these are things you can change, just like your job, your friends, your relationship. Now not only is my sport my favourite thing in the world but it’s actually my job and basically the reason I get up every morning, besides food. I’m 32 years old and I feel like I’ve only just found my Pterodactyl. Find yours, and spend every waking moment perfecting that fucker. You may surprise yourself.
Sarah currently trains and coaches out at our Wards Gym in Richmond. She's a legend and is one of a kind. She's come on board as one of our ambassadors. You can follow here instagram @sarahgetsbetter which is a source of constant entertainment, with training, trying to wear dresses and videos of her anti-social cat Graham.