Ice Skating to a Growth Mindset

I used to labor under a fixed mindset. Surprising mostly myself, it took something as benign as an ice skating class for me to develop a growth mindset. Here is the story.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
Based on my understanding, a person who operates under a fixed mindset believes that their brain and abilities are set in stone and cannot be changed in a meaningful way. Someone with a growth mindset, on the other hand, knows that their brain can be molded and abilities expanded in a bid for continuous improvement. I first heard about growth mindsets when we watched a TED talk during a company-wide meeting at a multinational financial services corporation where I worked.

Catalyst for Change
When I was laid off from the financial services arm of a multinational conglomerate, an experience I cover in a different post, one of the consolation prizes they gave me was a promise of tuition reimbursement for up to $9,000. I could use this to pay for any kind of class, be it woodworking, health coaching, or how to schmooze. Incidentally, I took all of these classes and more. This really gave me the opportunity to explore many possibilities and open myself up to learning anything that ever interested me.

Why Ice Skating?
In high school, I had injured my left knee pretty badly on two occasions while attempting to ice skate. After falling one time, I couldn't bend my leg backwards at the knee more than probably 30 degrees and this carried on for months. To this day, that knee creaks when I bend it. It all goes to say, I never learned any techniques to help me ice skate successfully.

In a bid to give my kids the opportunities I didn't have, I enrolled them in a tots ice skating class. While watching them, I learned that there is a proper way to get back up after falling, and also the rudimentary skills to ice skate. I found myself feeling pretty jealous of them, and decided, why not sign up for an ice skating class myself and put my tuition reimbursement benefit to use.

Developing a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset began to stir in me while I watched my kids take their ice skating lessons. A light went off in my head that hey, there are actual steps you follow to get up from a fall, and to propel yourself on the ice. I began picturing, in my mind, how to do what they were doing. And when I got on the ice myself, I had the opportunity to practice what I had already begun learning, as well as learn more techniques to successfully get around the rink. It felt great.

In Conclusion
Learning how to ice skate was the first time I realized that you can actually learn to do something, silly as it sounds, and get better in an area you thought you naturally stunk at. In my case, I have never thought of myself as a physically gifted person, and in fact, I believed that I was pretty terrible. These lessons taught me otherwise, and ignited the belief in me that I could get better at anything just by learning the correct techniques and practicing. This experience really paved the way for other improvements in my life and continues to do so in the way that small wins have a way of continuing to build on themselves.


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