What’s Your Mindset?


Whether you are a personal trainer working with dozens of clients every week, or a fitness enthusiast trying to get everything that they can from their training, this relates to you. It’s all about an idea that I learned from Carol Dweck, who is a phycology professor at Stanford University and wrote the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. And it is one of the most powerful ideas that you need to get your head around to truly become more successful in everything that you do.

There are two mindsets that you can have; either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. What I have found is that you may have a little bit of both, depending on the circumstances, but trust me, you will predominantly be one of these.


With the fixed mindset you believe things like your intelligence or talent are fixed traits. These are the people who will invest everything they have into proving how smart or good they are at something. You may be too afraid to ask a question, in fear that someone will find out you don’t know everything. The fixed mindset will prevent you from trying anything new because you don’t want to “fail” or can’t stand the idea of not being the best at it. This mindset is based on winning or losing, not on improving.


In the growth mindset you believe that your abilities can be developed thru dedication or hard work. These people see their talent or intelligence as only the starting point. These people love to learn, and see every opportunity as an opportunity to develop their skills or abilities, and don’t see outcomes as wins or losses.

So which one of these would describe you? Are you more concerned about how people view you? Worried about your traits and how adequate you are? Or are you looking for ways to get better and learn from your experiences?

I’m sorry if I may have touched a nerve, but this is for your own benefit. For example, when I was learning this I could definitely see some fixed mindset traits and I quickly realized how they were holding me back, but up until that point I had never realized it. And then I started to think about my clients, and how I could use what I had learned about these 2 mindsets to help them.

How Do You Coach Your Clients?

I’ve long been a big believer that what we do as fitness professionals goes way beyond sets and reps, and that we have this amazing opportunity to change lives on so many levels. We need to motivate our clients and inspire them on a daily basis, but what if the way in which we are trying to do this is just feeding the fixed mindset even more? If that’s the case, are we actually helping our clients or driving them further into this damaging mindset?

So let’s dig deeper into the cueing we use with our clients. Here are a couple of examples of feedback that will feed the fixed mindset:

“Joe, great job again! You are always one of the first 2 to finish.”

“Jane, once again you lifted the most weight on the team!”

“Another perfect week on your eating plan Sarah!”

“Your technique is flawless once again”

Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with any of the above sayings, but depending on the client or athlete it could be. Joe may start taking shortcuts, or let his form suffer because he needs to finish in the first two. Jane only see’s herself as being successful if she lifts the most weight on the team. Sarah may start being deceitful in her meal diary because she wants to continue to be perfect in your eyes. Are you starting to see how these helpful comments could be sabotaging our clients? Because we all know that sometimes our clients (and even ourselves) don’t always see themselves as they actually are.

Learn To Speak The Growth Mindset

Let’s take a look at some ways to speak more from a growth mindset perspective:

“Joe, what a great effort! You always put in 100%.”

“Jane, once again you improved! It’s great to see all that hard work pay off.”

“Looking at your food diary Sarah, we can see how putting in the time to prepare your meals is worth the effort.”

“Your form is improving week after week!”

Whether you are a coach or athlete, focus on the effort and growth from week to week, as opposed to the outcome. If you see not reaching a goal as a failure, you are bound to cement the idea of the fixed mindset and look for ways to feed the ego. Instead, look at why you didn’t reach your goal and what you can learn from that event to help you achieve it next time.

Strive to be a diamond!

A diamond starts out as a piece of coal. A diamond in its original form will get kicked, it will get stepped on, and it will get passed by over and over again. You’re not going to see a diamond in its original form! Through all the pressure and adversity that coal does not crumble, but becomes a precious stone that people want. It’s better to be a diamond with a flaw, then a pebble without one.

The version you are right now may not be a diamond, but if you’re willing to take on all the adversity, the hard work, the criticism you may face on a daily basis and push thru it, you will become one. But only if you are willing to look at life through a growth mindset.