Why you should probably stop beating yourself up and develop a “growth mindset” for pole

I work for a teaching website in my real life (SO compatible with pole, right? 😂😂😂), so I’ve stumbled onto the teachings of Carol S. Dweck more than once. I just didn’t pay much attention to them.

It took finding her book on my boyfriend’s shelf (Mindset), though, to really sit down and read, critically, what she had to say about how we view learning, and how that makes us view ourselves and our own abilities. I was of course thinking about pole the whole time (#addicted) and wanted to write about this immediately/scream it out a car window.

Here are a few things to know (ie. the TLDR), but you should totally check out the book too, it’s a good read.

1. Fixed Mindset peeps tend to see challenge as judgement

That makes a lot of us feel pretty miserable and paralyzed in life. Y’all ever know any child prodigies who totally gave up their talent in the middle-school years and never really picked it back up again? Or hear about the “wasted potential” of miserable geniuses who turned into drug addicts, etc? I mean obviously many things are going on there, but one of driving forces is likely a “fixed mindset,” which means the belief that you’re born with immutable ability, and must prove that you have this ability over and over again, or be a failure.

Since the definition of fixed mindset is the belief that talent or intelligence can’t be gained (but rather you have it or you don’t), folks with that set of beliefs think doing something wrong or making a shitty thing is a sign they’re just not talented or smart enough. This way of thinking can be stifling, and make people avoid even trying at things they love and are good at.

2. Growth Mindset people view challenges as opportunities

You know how awful it feels to be in class, battling with hard and ugly-looking moves (or WORSE, being forced to use your left side)? If you’re a fixed mindset person, you’ll want nothing more than to flee back to easier moves, your dominant side, and a class full of beginners that you can look like a rockstar in front of.

The growth mindset person, by contrast, (defined as someone who believes talent and skill can be developed through effort) will have a higher tolerance for struggle, and may even actively seek a level higher of instruction than is comfortable–because they know they’ll learn something from people that are more skilled and experienced than themselves. Humbling? Yes. But GM people know that not looking like the best doesn’t mean you’re failing–it means you’re well on their way to improving.

3. You can totally change your mind about “mindset” (heh!), and you probably should.

Do it starting now! When things get hard, instead of telling yourself, “I suck at this, I’m failing,” think, “I’m learning, I’m getting stronger, and doing it wrong now is helping me do it right next time.”

Also keep in mind that exposing yourself to new stuff is going to feel awkward and uncomfortable at times. That means you’re stretching yourself! Embrace this feeling, and revel in it. Let the scaredy cats hang back and stick to what they know. You’ll be developing parts of yourself you never knew you had.

If you need convincing, this example really put things in perspective for me, because drawing is one of those skills I think of as “you have it or you don’t.” In Dweck’s book, she shows before and after images from people’s attempt at self portraits before and after a five-day drawing course.

The results are staggering. True, some people do have special talents and aptitudes. But MOST things can be learned by most people, and ALL people can improve with effort. Even “talent.”

I mean… wow.

So tell me: does this change the way you see pole? Will this encourage you to use your damn bad side?!

I think it will help me relax and enjoy the struggle a little in advanced classes, instead of stressing out that I’m the worst person in the room. As Dweck would say, the “worst” in the room is the one with the most to gain by being there–and is also the person laying the groundwork for being a much better version of themselves in the days to come. Strive to be that person!!

You can grab Dweck’s book here, or probably check it out at your local library. And don’t forget to let me know what you think!


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