Recently I was giving a presentation on endurance to an audience of career women. At one point, when I asked about strategies for cultivating a growth mindset, someone in the audience said ‘Just pretend you are a baby learning to walk!’
At first I thought she was crazy, but as we talked about it, I realized that there is no better growth mindset than learning to walk. Think about it: babies are born unable to even hold their heads up! Who would believe that within 18 months they would be upright, wearing shoes, and moving around the room under their own power?
And yet, we all trust it will happen. Babies see everyone else walking around, reaching all that cool stuff, getting what they want. They are determined to have that power for themselves, and they believe they can do it. And we believe in them.
What learning to walk can teach us
Is there something new you’re wanting to do, but it feels impossible? Well, you can already hold your head up, so that’s a great start! Here are a few lessons to take from aspiring toddlers:
- Believe in yourself. When babies fall down we don’t say ‘Oh well, too bad. That baby is just never going to walk.’ We offer patience and encouragement, sure that they won’t be crawling down the aisle at high school graduation. You need to have that same belief in yourself and know that you can be different if you want.
- Cheer when you fall down. When we first see a baby try to take steps, and they inevitably fail and fall down, what do we do? We clap and say ‘YAY! Look at you! Great job!’ So, next time you try something and it doesn’t quite go your way on the first attempt, cheer yourself on for trying. And remember to cheer for people around you too.
- Ask for help if you need it. Babies aren’t afraid to ask for help. They’ll let you walk around holding their fingers (and destroying your back) for hours. When my tween daughter texts me asking where her hockey gear is, I wish I was half as willing to ask for help as she is! So whether you need a class, a coach, a YouTube video, or a pep talk, asking for help is totally okay.
- Put in the hard work. Walking requires a lot of things coming together at once, and so it takes a lot of practice. As we move through life and want to build more advanced skills, challenge beliefs about ourselves, or take things to the next level, it takes practice! You need to be willing to put in the hard work.
- Know it will be worth it! Have you ever seen the look on a baby’s face when they walk across the room? They are so excited. Big eyes. Huge smile. The falling down and the effort has literally gotten them new places. So if there’s something you care about being or doing, know that when you succeed, all that hard work will be rewarded.
Cultivate your Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck tells us, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work”. If you want to make changes in your life, either personally or professionally, start with hope and then build a growth mindset. When you can let go of fear and limiting beliefs, almost anything is possible.
So get ready to hold your head up high and walk across the room like a boss.