Every experience is an opportunity to grow

In today’s society of instant gratification, personal growth can seem like a slow process. Success takes time and there is no magic pill to help it along. For many esports athletes, competing with the best feels like a distant dream. Something as simple as changing their mindset and adapting to a new way of thinking may assist competitive gamers in achieving their goals and getting there faster.

What is a growth mindset?

The growth mindset was made popular by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In it, she talks about the two kinds of mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. A growth mindset is a way of thinking that chooses to focus on improvement, rather than dwelling on past failures, disparities and other distractions.

Dweck makes the argument that this type of thinking can be acquired by anyone at any stage of their life—some may be have a natural inclination to think this way naturally, while others must work to acquire a growth mindset.

The Fixed Mindset

The fixed mindset is the antithesis of the growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset have a very black-and-white approach to their thinking. They may see practice as useless because their concept of skill suggests that a player’s abilities are based on talent. This style of thinking hinders progress. For example, a player might believe that they will not win because their opponent is using an overpowered character. These thoughts hinder that individual from developing strategies to beat their opponent, which can lead to repetitive losses or quitting altogether.

How Do Top Players Use The Growth Mindset?

The best esports competitors focus on how to learn from loses rather than justifying the reason for the lost. They see practice as a means to an end rather than a waste of time—constantly striving to improve both their skillset and mindset. Professionals in every field understand that if results are wanted, it is crucial to put in the time and spend it wisely.

At the age of 24, after a serious health issue, Tavian Napier started to acquire this mindset for himself. The fear of his own mortality fueled his fire to discover new traits which has taken him on a path of self-development. “This change in mindset has taken my life to greater heights than I could have only imagined just a few years ago.” What might have been a painful situation became a learning experience for Napier. “While there’s still a long journey ahead, my recent success has shown me the rewards of continuously challenging myself and has given me the dedication to keep moving forward,” he said.

The shift to a growth mindset didn’t happen all at once. Napier continues, “At first, when I lost to certain people, I didn’t want any advice from them whatsoever. I thought asking them for advice was the same as admitting they were better than me. My ego got in the way of my own improvement and denied me an opportunity to learn how to avoid similar situations when they arose. This was my own fixed mindset.”

The Dangers of A Fixed Mindset

People with a fixed mindset often have a hard time improving or learning even though they may spend many hours practicing. They often hit what Josh Foer calls the “Okay Plateau”, getting just good enough to do what is expected but nothing more. For example, many drive a car every day, but don’t have the skill of an expert driver even though a good amount of time is spent behind the wheel. If all that was needed to improve was to put in more hours, then shouldn’t more of us have the skills of professional race car drivers?

Identifying A Fixed Mindset

The truth is it takes more than just grinding out hours in the lab, it takes focused, intentional practice and willingness to look for ways to force yourself out of your own limiting beliefs. These are false beliefs, the results of making incorrect conclusions about a situation or person. One example is many esports athletes’ belief that they can’t improve their skills because they aren’t naturally talented. This is not the case! In well-balanced games, everyone has similar challenges to overcome and anyone willing to learn from their losses can improve their skills.

Transmuting painful events into personal growth is a common trait among top performers of all walks of life. Failure is part of the process for improvement and the best artists, athletes and entrepreneurs are the ones that learn the most from them.

Shifting to a Growth Mindset

Focus on solutions, rather than circumstances. This frees up mental and emotional energy to work on learning and overcoming challenges. Players who complain about the mechanics of a game or the play style of an opponent are in a fixed mindset and are slowing down their own growth with the limiting belief that something outside of their control is hindering their ability to win or improve.

This kind of thinking will halt improvement in an instant—try to avoid these thought processes at all costs. Instead, properly allocate time and mental energy to focus on finding new way to attack the problem. Adopting a growth mindset is vital for success in competitive games or anything else in life.

Growth takes time

There are no shortcuts or magic pills to improvement—but shifting towards a growth mindset makes life much easier and more enjoyable. Start identifying areas where beliefs are limiting growth, then new ways of thinking become available and the process of leveling up speeds up. Taking a hard look at thought patterns will seem frustrating at first, but with time the rewards will come.

As Rocky Balboa says: “That’s how winning is done.”