Showsight - July 2021

FINDING INSPIRATION IN HER GROWTH MINDSET AN OLYMPIAN PERSEVERES BY LEE WHITTIER W e look to the US athletes as they prepare to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. This year’s athletes have demonstrated a par- ticular fortitude. Elite athletes are known

for overcoming challenges; however, even more so this year than in past Olympic years—they’ve dealt with a pandemic! When things get tough, the champions persevere, learn, and thrive. How do they do this? Let’s look at the Olympian’s Mindset—and one Olympian—to find inspiration for dog show owner handlers. This year’s athletes are of particular interest in terms of mindset because they had to wait out a year. During that time, each athlete had to maintain a high level of compe- tency, just as we have in the dog show world. Some benefited from the gap, especially the younger ones who had time to mature. Which athletes came back stronger, more skilled, and better prepared than ever? How did they navigate train- ing within a lockdown? Who missed out on their opportu- nity to become Olympians? Perhaps they peaked too early, got injured, or decided that training for another year was not feasible and retired. The “Gap Year” changed things. THE OLYMPIC CREED: “THE IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE IS NOT THE TRIUMPH, BUT THE FIGHT; THE ESSENTIAL THING IS NOT TO HAVE WON, BUT TO HAVE FOUGHT WELL.”


Mindset, per definition, is a mental attitude or inclina- tion. 1 With that said, let’s look at the word mindset as it applies to competitive sports. It has come to my attention that many readers may consider that the word is being overused. How- ever, I took on the challenge to examine what mindset means and the nuances of its synonyms, attitude, and mentality. We can find inspiration in how athletes exemplify the concept of mindset. An Olympian or top competitor embod- ies (or even becomes consumed in) their drive for excellence. It’s how the athlete completely embraces a growth or positive mindset to live in the Olympic spirit. Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Dr. Carol Dweck, is known for her work on mindset. Dweck researched two main types of mindset, growth mindset and fixed mindset , and how these influenced students’ attitudes toward failure. As a pioneer in the field of motivation, Dweck examined why people succeeded, or didn’t, and how to foster success. She also theorized that a person’s mindset can be changed. I am fascinated by Dweck’s research and how this theory is applied in a competition, specifically to see how competi- tors with a growth mindset are spurred on by their failures.


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