The Growth Mindset

Having been both an English Teacher and an Aquatics Coach for over 7 years now, I have had the privilege to witness the growth of many student-athletes, some in very subtle ways, others in ways so dramatic that had I not been there to witness the change, I might not have believed them to be the same person.

One of the most interesting things that I get to study in my position as teacher/coach is what these students do to undertake such growth and, while there are many more factors that lead to this awesome development, one factor stands out as the element that can take a seemingly average, or even below average young person and cause them to stand out among the crowd.

The attribute that makes these students stand out is that they embrace a growth mindset. These students, regardless of the athletic abilities or academic habits they may come to HS equipped with, consistently excel in the things they undertake. They look at what they know how to do, look at their ability and performance level, look at where they want to be and take steps to get there.

There are some students who come equipped with a lot more natural ability. These students shine early on, but without the growth mindset find themselves one or two years into high-school being passed up by the others. Their biggest hold-back is that old idea that as soon as we start patting our own back for knowing so much, we stop looking for new information, we stop looking for models of success to emulate and adopt strategies from, and slowly over time become less adaptable to change and ultimately stop growing altogether.

How do we cultivate this mindset then? How do we maintain growth for a long period of time so that we can reach our potential best? The answer seems to present itself as  the need to remind ourselves daily that we don’t know everything and to approach each day, each practice and each game/meet as an opportunity to understand and explore what we missed in the last round.  Everyone’s got slumps and plateaus, but let’s be the one’s who embrace a growth mindset and get excited about finding out how much more there is beyond those slumps.

See you at the pool,

Coach Sean Banister