Mile 27 Coach Ben Duffus joins us on the blog to talk about how constantly focussing on improvement rather than results can lead to better outcomes and more enjoyment of the process.
The title of this post might sound a little contrived, but these are the 4 words that pop up on my phone’s to-do-list app each morning. Perhaps that says a lot about me, but it means that every single day I have to do something to better myself before I can tick it off. Each word has been carefully chosen: “Relentless” because it is unwavering and unceasing, “Improvement” because the aim to reach ever higher, “Towards” because there is always room to do better, and “Mastery” because I’m striving for much more than competency.
But the point of this post isn’t to let everyone know that I enjoy corny motivation slogans or that I’m lost without my phone reminding me what to do each day; it’s about how I believe that constantly focusing on improvement rather than results can ultimately make us better ultramarathon runners, while also enjoying the process more.
Some of you will already be quite familiar with concept of a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset”, and for anyone interested in reading more about the topic I highly recommend Prof. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Briefly, a fixed mindset is the belief that certain qualities cannot be changed whereas a growth mindset is the belief that they can be improved. Everybody has a little bit of both mindsets and it will vary depending on the topic, their mood, etc, but most of us have a tendency to fall into one or the other a majority of the time. Which pattern of thinking we tend to fall into can have been brought about by many different factors, such as how and for what we were (or weren’t) praised for as a child. Such details are beyond the scope of this post (but again, I refer anyone interested to Dr Dweck’s book and/or research papers).