Cyclists who have never ridden an Haute Route may be thinking the events would be too challenging or hard, or even that they wouldn’t be sufficiently dedicated or committed to do the required preparation.
Although completely normal when one reads about possibly tackling a multi-day event, such thoughts are what Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset”. Our minds are enormously powerful in shaping our experiences of reality by making general assumptions and expectations about who we are and how the world works. They allow us to process large amounts of complex information quickly and make sense of it. However, the narratives that we often tell ourselves and hence our attitudes and what we believe can also prevent us from reaching our potential or a higher level of performance.
Research tells us that people with a fixed mindset believe that their individual traits are really innate and unchangeable. Consequently, they avoid experiences that may result in failure.
On the other hand, people with a “growth mindset” believe that skills and capabilities can be learnt and developed through hard work, failures and feedback from others. Such individuals are more likely to develop and grow over the long-term because they see setbacks as opportunities to learn and reach their potential. Additionally, their attitudes lead to greater resilience and perseverance, two fundamental traits amongst cyclists.
Everybody has a fixed mindset in certain situations and with respect to certain abilities and a growth mindset for other specific contexts . So, it may be helpful to identify where a fixed mindset prevents you from achieving your cycling goals, pursuing work opportunities or life experiences.
Mindsets are not simply mental and the mind is not only a passive observer. Instead mindsets influence outcomes. They actually affect biological changes depending on how the activity is framed. Our mindsets therefore have a significant impact on our identity, self-esteem, relationships with others and how we interact with what unfolds in the world. These ideas have been applied to areas of health and well-being such as sleep and stress. In other words, the way you view your daily cycling commute or a training session may make a difference to the benefits that it delivers for you.
Since our mindsets are created from our life experiences, new experiences can shift our belief systems and attitudes. Research suggests that our beliefs and mindsets create our identity of the type of person we believe we are. We can shift our beliefs and consequently our identity through small and repeated actions (habits). Furthermore, instead of focusing on the outcomes or results, the commitment to a frequent and consistent practice will result in shifts in mindset. Identity is defined by one’s regular habits and daily goals such as “I’m a rider who never misses a training ride” or “I’m a manager who never misses 15 minutes of personal reflection time”.
So by developing a different mindset that focuses on the process of training like an Haute Route rider, you can achieve the outcome of successfully riding an Haute Route.