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Personal Growth: A Beginners Mind

Updated: May 7, 2020

Earlier this year, I had made the decision to embark on a fitness goal and signed up for the Noosa Triathlon, the world's largest Olympic distance event (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run). As an avid runner I had wanted more of a challenge and have always admired triathletes, they always seemed to me so focused, passionate and disciplined.

A number of years back I participated in a super sprint distance with next-to-no training and was one of two females competing in a bikini (the other was my mate who had also accomplished very little in terms of training). To say we were 'triathletes' was definitely an embellishment not only on our poor preparation, but also our dismal performance.

Noosa was going to be different. I would acquire the discipline and passion needed to not only prepare, but perform well.

This aspiration was somewhat deflated in the aftermath of my first session with a swim coach (Ken Kirk). It would appear that I had been swimming all wrong (for 40+ years!), ineffectively and inefficiently. Left breathless at the end of a 25m lap I assumed something was amiss, and not only was it something, it was many things.

Unbeknownst to me, swimming is actually quite technical. There are A LOT of things to think about in a free-style stroke ~ the catch, the position of the head in the water, the position of the head when you breathe, the kick, the flexion at the ankles, the high elbows, the reach, the's never-ending really. When it came down to it, I had to completely re-engineer my swimming and the only way to do that was with a coach and a beginners mind.

A beginners mind is when you approach something without preconceived notions or judgement; you offer your presence with curiosity and a willingness to learn and grow. With a beginners mind you place your ego aside and seek out as much feedback as you can, making ongoing, continuous adjustments. This is followed by the application of deliberate practice and only then, can you progress.

Deliberate practice is an intentional type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. According to James Clear, 'deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance'. It's the integration of new learnings that result in consistent improvement.


3 Components of Deliberate Practice

1. Primary goal is to improve performance.

2. Requires effortful engagement in the task.

3. Typically adult-led ~ coaches or teachers necessary to both model and provide feedback.

It's the small, consistent actions done well that develop our potential.

This past weekend I achieved my goal of competing in the Noosa Triathlon and I was pleased with my performance. Definitely some challenges and fears faced and overcome with room for improvement next year. What there weren't were moments of uncertainty and this was due to my beginners mind, discipline and deliberate practice. When we approach our goals with this type of mindset, personal growth is inevitable and anything is truly possible.

Kirsten is a performance consultant who works with individuals, teams and organisations to develop potential and make things possible. Contact her today to build the discipline you need to achieve your goals and perform at your best.

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