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The Growth Mindset of a Ninja Warrior


This week I have discovered the "Ninja Warrior" competition on Channel 9; and as an individual who tends not to watch much television, especially programmes that might fall into the category of 'Reality TV" my interest has taken me by surprise.

I was instantly captivated.

The sheer effort, determination and athleticism displayed by many of the contestants has been truly inspiring. My four year old son and I were immediately immersed in the moment, cheering the competitors along with enthusiasm, willing them to overcome every obstacle, suffering alongside the one's who were defeated.

For three straight nights we have become a part of the virtual crowd and I have come to the realisation that what sets these athletes above and beyond the rest of us mere mortals, aside from muscle, endurance or skill is a flourishing and brilliant example of a growth mindset.

Individuals who possess a growth mindset embrace challenges (VS those with a fixed who avoid them). The athletes on Ninja Warrior definitely embrace the physical challenges that lay before them. Yet beyond the physical, the challenges faced also incorporate a psychological component and that's where self-efficacy or self-belief come in ~ more specifically the participants belief in their ability to garner the internal resources necessary to conquer every challenge encountered.

Individuals who possess a growth mindset persist in the face of setbacks (VS those with a fixed mindset who give up easily), and these athletes most certainly display this behaviour. Obstacles for these athletes were opportunities to overcome the challenge and occasionally previous failure. A number of the competitors had competed last year and despite not progressing through the final course (and 'failing' to win), took learning and lessons with them to apply in the future.

Individuals who possess a growth mindset see effort as the path to mastery (VS those with a fixed mindset who view effort as fruitless), and these athletes clearly put extraordinary effort in to compete. Those who had returned from the previous year spoke of the 12 months of investment through training, deliberate practice and working on their 'mindset'. The program has shared many of the background stories of extraordinary effort the athletes had applied and endured in order to return better, faster, stronger.

Individuals who possess a growth mindset learn from criticism (VS those with a fixed mindset who tend to ignore critical feedback). These athletes not only learn from critical feedback, they actively seek it out in order to improve their performance. They acknowledge that there is always more in the tank and they are constantly tweaking their approach and technique based on prior experience and feedback.

Individuals with a growth mindset find lessons and inspiration in the success of others (VS those with a fixed who feel threatened). These athletes cheer for one another, they learn from their competitors and are truly inspired when they witness their competitors succeed. These athletes are on a personal journey to apply themselves whole heartedly towards their endeavour and they celebrate when they see one another overcome the challenges.

This week I was privileged to see all of these behaviours and was pleased that my son witnessed them as well. Immediately following the program he would imitate the athletes, giving me a microphone to MC his performance, I'd ask him at the end why he was successful and he'd say "well I've trained for 12 months, I got stronger and my six-pack helped".

For some Friday inspiration, this is a must watch! True grit right here. #teambetsy #disconinja

Kirsten helps organisations who are looking to cultivate growth mindsets across their talent and teams. Contact her today to tap into the potential!


Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc..

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