To be a champion, you need to adopt a growth mindset

Mariska Casey explains how she won the World Championship in deadlifting, despite huge personal challenges.

Speaking at the Finance Indaba last week, UJ senior accountancy lecturer Mariska McKenzie explained that there are two types of mindset that will influence the way that you learn and develop. The fixed mindset suggests that the qualities/traits that you have are fixed and cannot be changed. People with a fixed mindset document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.

On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can become smarter, they realise that their effort has an effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

Mariska shared what can kind of mindset it took for her to win the 2018 World Championship title for deadlifting. But at the time, she was facing a huge personal challenge. 

“Before participating in the World Championship, my husband pulled me aside to have a chat with me, and what he said took me by complete surprise,” she says. 

Mariska’s husband revealed to her that he was transgender. 

“He had no other alternative but to be courageous and start transitioning into a female, as being male was crushing his life. I was so scared. I had no idea what this journey would entail for us, our family, our friends and colleagues. It is also an honour and privilege to walk alongside her in this difficult journey and I had to grip the person that I loved the most with all of my heart instead of gipping steel bars and plates.” 

Despite all of this, she knew that if she wanted to excel at the World Championships, she had to set everything that was going on aside, to concentrate on the job at hand. 

To do this, she adopted a growth mindset and didn’t allow her situation to derail her from achieving what she wanted to achieve. And at the end, she managed to lift 142.5 kg, to seal the title.

She also tries to impart the mindset theory to her accountancy students who struggle to cope with the pressures that come with being a university student, especially around exam time. 

It is important to develop positive habits to give you a different perspective on things. When you hold on to your fixed beliefs, they will hinder you from bringing positive change to your life, when you realise that your habits can be changed you will introduce positivity to your life. 

To evolve from having a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, Mariska suggests you take these steps:
1.    Use positive past experiences and project them forward (create your brighter future).
2.    Find ways to boost your confidence (confidence takes the fear away) and surround yourself with people who inspire/lift you up. 
3.    Have a mantra that works for you, and if all else fails, pray.
4.    Motivate yourself. 
5.    Don’t believe in the word “impossible”. There should be zero ground for the impossible.
6.    Visualise yourself succeeding. There is huge power in visualization.
7.    Give it 100 percent. 
8.    Own everything you do (own your failures; they give you the benefit of hindsight).