The growth mindset is infamous in the self-development industry. Today, I am going to present you with a new version of the growth mindset: The shark mindset. 

I first came across the idea, listening to a speech by Walter Bond. Since listening to it, I have applied it to my life and used it to keep moving forward when times get tough. 

Growing up as an athlete, I have always been fascinated by the mindsets of the elite, like Michael Jordan. They are relentless in the pursuit of their goals. Michael Jordan, himself, has said:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.

Michael Jordon

When people hear this, I guarantee they have a moment of inspiration. But this moment does not last forever and will often not be there when life gets tough. Developing a shark mindset will make it easier for us to deal with these situations. We don’t want to rely on making the decision to move forward at the tough times. We want to rewire our belief system so that it is our natural instinct to keep moving forward. We need to become sharks.  

Traits of a shark

To become a shark, we need to first identify some key characteristics.

The 2 main ones are:

1. Sharks don’t stop swimming

2. Sharks always swim forward 

Applying shark mindset traits to our lives

To start, you need to focus on always moving forward. Are you where you want to be in life? I hope the answer is ‘no’, as growth is a basic human need and feeling satisfied won’t last long. If the answer is no, then the reason why is because you haven’t earned it yet. Yes, there may be external factors impacting the situation, but f*** them.

Focus on what you can control. And the key to that is focusing on yourself and your level of personal development. A quote I live by is:

Your net worth will never exceed your personal development.

If you have not achieved what you want to, then work on yourself. Develop new skills or refine old ones. A great way to achieve this is to focus on growing on a daily basis. There will be days where you don’t feel great, but if you read for 30 minutes, then at the end of that day, you can still look back on it and say, ‘I grew today’. 

It is also important to continue moving forward for your whole life. Simon Sinek refers to life as an ‘Infinite Game’, with no end point. Being a shark is not about moving forward until you achieve your goal and then become satisfied. It is about continuing to move forward, even after you achieve some of your goals. You need to ‘move the goalposts’ and keep setting new goals when you achieve old ones.

Similarly, a shark is not affected by failure. If a shark fails to catch its prey, it doesn’t stop and feel sorry for itself, it starts hunting again. It looks for new prey. When you fail, don’t let it stop you. If you fail to get a job, then look for another one. 

I recognise that this is easy to say, but harder to do. To help this, you need to change your perspective on failure. This comes from your mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, then you believe that you can’t change. For example, you feel that your current level of success is permanent.

Therefore, when you fail, you define yourself as a failure and feel worthless. On the contrary, if you have a growth mindset you believe that all your skills and abilities can develop. Instead of seeing failure as a negative event, you will begin to see it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

Becoming a shark

To become a shark, you need to apply these 2 principles to your life. It is harder than it sounds. Like I said before, when life is good, it is easy to think that you will be able to deal with the roadblocks that present themselves. The problem is that it is not that simple. When times get tough, we can lose our rationality. So we need to ingrain these features into our subconscious.

To do this, you need to become more self-aware. Start being more conscious about the choices you make and the thoughts you have, on a daily basis. A great way to do this is to meditate on past events, where you have let failure beat you. Think back to these events and think of you could have reacted in a different manner, more suitable of the shark mindset. As a keen footballer, I look back at times where I allowed failure in trials to discourage me and make me believe I’m not good enough. I can tell you one thing for certain, though. That was the old me and applying the shark mindset has fostered this change. 

I am also going to recommend a method from the book ‘Think Like a Monk’ by Jay Shetty. He calls it the ‘spot, stop and swap’ method. In the book, he presents it as a solution to negativity, however, it can be used in this case too. For example, you need to spot yourself thinking in a fixed mindset, stop yourself, and then swap it for a more growth-orientated belief.  You won’t be perfect at this and you will, at first, slip up and not catch yourself. However, the more self-aware you become, the more natural it will become.

Then, once you have become a shark, never stop hunting. Whenever you are struggling in life, think of these traits. Think of yourself as a shark, the deadliest predator in the ocean and keep going.

Until next time,

Keep moving on your path towards greatness.

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