At the beginning of her book, Mindset, The Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck describes how her fascination with how people cope with failures lead her to an interesting study monitoring how children grappled with a series of increasingly difficult puzzles. She notes “how one ten years old pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and cried out, “I love a challenge”. For Dweck, it was a revelation about how some people not only didn’t fear failure but relished an activity where failure was very possible and even likely. Through subsequent research, she came to identify two general mindsets.
The fixed mindset. These people believe that qualities are carved in stone and are anxious to avoid failure. This leads to avoiding challenges, not asking for help, and giving up easier when faced with obstacles.
The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts and help from others. Challenges are embraced, setbacks are endured, criticism is embraced.
As I read this, many things come to mind including fear of failure in academics, business, dating, athletics, teaching, and yes, Krav Maga training.
I have seen the fixed mindset at play with Krav Maga students and instructors. Perhaps the best example is the instructor who doesn’t participate in training. For some, this might be false arrogance, but I believe in many cases they fear students seeing deficiencies in their techniques. They want to appear virtually infallible. Similarly is the student who, for example, avoids groundwork (especially break falls and rolls) because they are discouraged or embarrassed, afraid to fail in front of others.
The problem, of course, is that without embracing these challenges we don’t improve.
It is essential to bring a growth mindset to Krav Maga training. There will be frustrations, you won’t always look great, the results won’t be immediate, but you will improve and become a better Krav Maga practitioner.
Don’t be afraid of failure. They are necessary steps to improvement.
Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books, 2016.