In the past few weeks I have been feeling something. Or maybe thinking something. Ok, actually, both.
I haven’t really been able to figure it out.
Here are several ways of how it has been manifesting.
First, I have been planning for over a year to hike to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos. It reaches 11,700 feet and is a 14.2 mile round trip with an elevation change of over 4,000 feet. If you read my blog faithfully, then you have seen lots of pictures of the mountain and several posts about my preparations for the climb.
In the past few weeks, I have been doubting my ability to make it to the top. There’s the physical requirements, which will challenge me. There is also what is perhaps the bigger challenge, my sometimes paralyzing fear of heights. I have told myself a story that I will be able to endure most of the physical challenge but as I approach the summit, I am going to freak out and stop.
The next manifestation of something brewing inside of my happened within this same time frame. Due to Covid, I had stopped going to the gym in mid March. This happened right after I reached an incredible benchmark (pun intended) in my weightlifting – with the bench press. I put up 300 pounds. I wrote about it HERE.
Shortly after going back to the gym, I decided to over to the bench after taking over 3 months off from lifting. I put 135 on the bar to warm up and was able to easily do 15 reps. But then I went to 185 and hit a major struggle. This was 115 pounds less than my max three months earlier. I was wiped after doing reps at 185.
I was discouraged. I feel as if all the work that I had made in the past year and half leading up to the 300 pound max, was just wasted. Thanks Covid.
I walked away from the bench feeling like I was done and that I could not get back to 300 again. In fact, I didn’t even try again, until this morning.
But first, I must back up a bit before this morning.
About two weeks ago my wife was telling me that she was really into a book that she was reading at the time. She said that she thought I would really like it. When she told me the name of the book, I told her that she was right, that I would like and in fact, I do like it. I read the book about 14 years ago when it came out.
The book is called Mindset: The Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck.
Her timing was good. The company I work for, Pearson Online and Blended Learning, allows employees to get a non-fiction book each month. I had just finished a book and a new month was upon us, so I ordered Mindset, as I could not find my original copy.
As soon as I started reading the book again, my brain was flooded with thoughts and memories of the first time I read the book. I was also re-learning concepts from the book.
Another way her timing was good is that getting into the book was just what was needed to combat the thoughts and feelings I referred at the beginning of this post. The book helped me self-diagnose that I was having a really bad case of what Dweck calls, THE FIXED MINDSET.
The fixed mindset is defined as
the belief that our basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.
I think when I was faced with restarting my work on the bench press and when I have been thinking about the climb to the top of Timpanogos, I have disabled myself with thinking that my abilities are limited and fixed.
That is a lie. A BIG FAT LIE.
I am sure I am not the only one susceptible to that lie, but I know that I am.
Contrasting the fixed mindset is the GROWTH MINDSET. This mindset tell us that
everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
That word everyone includes me. And you. And them. And Us.
I went to the gym early this morning. When I hit the bench, I could feel me molting my skin of fixed mindset, much like a snake molts its skin from time to time. The molting is not totally complete, but it is well underway. That is why I like the photo of myself that I took (shown above). There is a bit of a confidence exuding in my face, and more importantly, from within me.
I did not kill it with today’s bench, but I did renew a commitment and an understanding that my growth depends up me and my effort. If I want to get back to 300 pounds, I can. If I want to go beyond 300 pound I can.
I am not a natural weightlifter. But I am a worker. And I do persist. And I am consistent.
As far as climbing the mountain goes, I have been hiking all season long. I have been exercising every day. I have even hit some heights that are a bit freaky. I do not run away from my fears (most of the time). I want the satisfaction of knowing that the hike is a challenge, and one that I can overcome. For me the victory of climbing Timpanogos is not only conquering the mountain, but it is more about conquering myself, triumphantly.
In fact, that is my, our, life work. We are our own 300 pound bar or 11,700 foot mountain. We can choose, with work, effort, failure, planning, consistency, and persistence, to grow ourselves. And then to grow some more. And again, some more.
I am trying experiment with my children. I sent them a text on Wednesday. I told them I would give them $50 if they would read the book. I told them I would even buy the book with them. There was one condition: that they had to participate in 3 discussions with me about the book.
I immediately got a snarky response back from one of my daughters. But then two of my others daughters said they were in. And a bit later (not shown in the screenshot), one of my sons agreed to do it as well.
Their books have already arrived and are now in their hands. I am looking forward to hearing their thoughts and seeing how they respond.
I can see both mindsets in play with each of them, much like I see them in play in my own life.
Watch this space as I will update it with progress of this reading project.