Over the last 3 years, we’ve had quite a few people walk through our doors at Ageless. We’ve made a lot of friendships that wouldn’t have been possible without the gym. We’ve also learned a lot from those friendships. One particular friendship has become an extremely valuable learning experience. In fact, over the last 2.5 years, I think I’ve learned more from this athlete than she’s learned from me.
Abbie Cline is successful. She has the rewards and accomplishments to prove it. However, her greatest asset isn’t genetics, talent, or God-given ability. No. Her greatest asset is her mindset. It’s something I struggled with as an athlete, and it’s something I see young athletes struggle with often. Professor Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, would say Abbie has a growth mindset. So does Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Mia Hamm. In fact, it’s not just an asset successful athletes have, but it’s been found in almost every successful person, from artists to teachers to billionaire entrepreneurs.
Unlike most of us, Abbie not only accepts failure, but she full expects it. She understands that if she continually challenges herself she’ll eventually fail. It’s what successful people do. They take their talents to very edge, and stretch them as far as they can. That’s how they grow and improve. Michael Jordan said it best, “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Legendary Coach John Wooden also understood it. Rarely would he ever discuss winning in his pregame speech. In fact, he rarely discussed winning at all. Instead he focused on motivating his players to continually grow and work as hard as possible. Mistakes were inevitable. It’s part of the learning process. According to Coach Wooden, some of his proudest moments weren’t after winning national championships, but came after losses when one of his much less talented teams gave everything they had and still came up short.
I’m lucky enough I get to witness the growth mindset firsthand. I’ve had over 250 workouts with Abbie over the last 2.5 years, and not once have I ever heard say “I can’t.” I give her a new, progressively harder exercise, she fiddles around with it for a week or 2 looking like an amateur, and then she masters it. No excuses. No ego. Fail. Learn. Grow. That’s what successful people do.
How does she do it? How can she continually look at failure as a learning opportunity and never get depressed or lose confidence? I don’t know. My guess is she has a strong belief that genetics may determine the starting line, but hard work determines the finish line. She’s more interested in the becoming, rather than the being. She also probably realizes that some of the best baseball players in the world fail 7 out of 10 times at the plate. Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, missed 1 out of every 2 shots in front of millions and millions of people on a daily basis.
Most people will look at her from afar, and see her numerous achievement and brush it off as genetics. They say the same thing about Michael Jordan (even though he was cut from his first basketball team) and Tiger Woods (even though his dad had him golfing as soon as he could walk). It’s the easy answer because her accomplishments are impressive. She’s one of the best high school softball players in the area and recently accepted a full scholarship to play at Division I Austin Peay. She also excels in academics, a candidate for Valedictorian. Her feats in the weight room are just as impressive. At around 125lbs, she’s deadlifting almost 300lbs and benching almost 160lbs.
The critics, the ones with a fixed mindset, say she must be blessed because everything looks like it comes so easy for her. She’s a natural they say. What they don’t see, or actually care to see is the work she puts in. She’s been working out with us at Ageless since she was a sophomore. She’s logged around 3 sixty minute workouts per week for the last 2.5 years. Those workouts came after softball and volleyball practices, 8 hours of school, student council meetings, IMPACT’D meetings, scholar bowl matches, and every other organization’s commitments she’s a member of. She also plays summer softball almost every weekend from the time her high school season ends until it gets too cold to play in October.
The reason is not genetics but HARD work. Do you know how many athletes I’ve seen walk through our doors that have had more physical gifts than her, yet aren’t half as successful as she is because they don’t have the right mindset? I’ve lost count. I had a handful just over this past summer.
But this article isn’t about sports. It’s about life in general. I guarantee Abbie will be successful in any profession she chooses to pursue, even if she does struggle with it at first. She already has the rightt mindset to overcome any obstacles or setbacks she may encounter. That’s exactly why I try to have as many of my young athletes work out with Abbie as I can. I hope her mindset rubs off on them. I hope they see how dedication and hard work results in success. I hope that success breeds success. I guarantee they won’t see one thing: excuses. She doesn’t have any time for them. She’s working too damn hard!