Adopting a Growth Mindset with Progressive Calisthenics

As an avid reader of positive psychology and personal development, I am always consciously and sub-consciously reflecting upon my actions and why I do what I do every day. After reading Dr. Dweck's 'Mindset' I really began to understand how and why calisthenics was contributing to my development as a husband, an athlete, an employee (hopefully one day as an entrepreneur!) and an individual.

As stated above, the growth mindset can be used to develop any amount of skills and abilities, through simple hard work, a positive philosophy and dedication to learning through practice. Through Progressive Calisthenics, participants are encouraged to target performance of movements and skills that they cannot yet perform. The movements you aim for can range from the simple push-up, to the front lever and beyond. 

I won't go too deep in to. the growth mindset, as you would be better off buying the book and reading it for yourself. I should clarify, I am not paid to promote this book! However, I can use the message it conveys to promote the practice and performance of progressive calisthenics as a tool for personal development in every area of life.

Front Lever (c)
Since I started progressive calisthenics, my life has been moving forward in every department; in marriage, financially, professionally, educationally. I am not saying that practicing calisthenics will make your life better, or seem better. Only you can make changes to your life and how you live it, or perceive it in terms of its success. However, you can use calisthenics to begin to move forward in a positive direction if you don't know what direction to go in.

As previously stated in this blog, my first goals in progressive calisthenics are the clean muscle-up, free standing handstand and the front lever. I will not achieve any of these goals unless I am dedicated to learning, practice and reflection. I will not achieve any of these goals without setting and achieving smaller goals that contribute to the larger goals (eg. tucked front lever, messy muscle-up's, free standing headstands, etc). I will not achieve any of these goals without failing on the first, second, third, or fourth attempt. I will not achieve any of these goals unless I dare to try something new and set them in the first place! You get the point.

By starting progressive calisthenics I allowed myself to attempt movements that were seemingly impossible, such as the front lever. After one year, I still cannot perform a front lever. I am currently able to perform a tucked front lever, for around 30 seconds maximum. This has been the case for around 6 months. I once attempted a one leg front lever, but damaged my left gluteus medius and have not yet felt strong enough to return to it since! I gave myself the opportunity to fail, I failed, and I will make sure that I fail again, when I'm ready.

The wider point being, until I really began to challenge myself like never before through calisthenics, and developed a commitment to work hard, learn and fail like never before, I wasn't fully able to take advantage of all the other opportunities around me.

Further to that, the impact that your change of philosophy and deployment of the growth mindset will have incredible positive consequences (your positive ripple effect, The Slight Edge - another essential positive psychology read) for the people around you. My wife can now do full push-up's, my 8-year-old nephew can do pull-up's and my Mum can cycle 100 miles a day for fun! It doesn't matter whether I inspired them, or not. They are all developing themselves, as I develop myself.

Personally, the best thing about progressive calisthenics and the growth mindset is that there is no end game. There is no final achievement. I can't win this game. I've made good progress in three years of fat loss and one year of calisthenics, but I have much further to go. That said, I don't want to know where I'm going - I don't want to narrow my vision! All I can do is keep going in this direction. Working hard, learning, acting when opportunity presents itself, having fun and making new friends through exercise. 

You can too! Just start. Try and do a push-up, a pull-up or a handstand. What's the worst thing that can happen? You fail? You get a bump, a bruise, or a muscle strain? The human body has evolved to heal itself when you damage it, so don't worry about that. Just start failing! It'll change your life, and the lives of everyone around you.

It doesn't matter where you start. It doesn't matter where you are going. As long as you are moving forwards, anything is possible.

Get outside. Build muscle. Have fun.


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