A Growth Mindset

No one and nothing hits harder than life. It’s not about how hard you hit… it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
~ Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

What’s your life about?

What are you committed to?

Sometimes life does its best to break you.

No matter how much we may wish for life to be easier, or to learn that “special combination” that will keep us out of difficulty, it’s just not possible.

And, regardless of what you’ve convinced yourself, you really don’t want it to be possible…. No matter what bill of goods you’ve been sold.

Doubt me?

Read on…

If your wish is to escape challenges and difficulties, nobody and nothing can save you; and no one and no one can protect you from life itself. You must live, you must love, and you must feel.

When you see clearly you realize that if you “want to escape challenges” you don’t really want to live. Something to ponder.

Difficult times are a test of our souls; a test of our fortitude; and as a result they can be the most growth filled and instructive times we experience.

Bottom line…

Life often hits hard.

Deal with it.

Embrace it.

Accept it.

Dive in.


At the end of the day… no one gets out alive.

The grand question in life is not “Are you going to die?” For the answer is self-evident.

The grand question in life is “Did you really live?”

“Damn James” you may say, “This is kind of grim.”

Think again.

When we see things clearly we live powerfully. When we realize that our time is short, we might just choose to truly live! Living and merely existing are vastly different.

Countless research on happiness and fulfillment prove conclusively that those who are most happy and fulfilled in life are living lives of “increasing complexity.”

Do you get that?

Rote routine and comfort lead to boredom, complacency, and death of spirit.

Mastery is a moving target that is never reached
but always fully experienced in the moment.

How long would you be fulfilled playing chess with a child? How long would it be worth your time to play tennis with someone who could never hit the ball back over the net?

If you’re really honest you know this expenditure of time will quickly run its course; and there will be no joy. While it may be fulfilling to teach a beginner or child… at some point you also want to test your own abilities of performance. Are you with me?

You need uncertainty…

You need external challenges…

You need and desperately want an external adversary.

You’re going to face challenges whether you like it or not; and deep down inside you do want them! Your spirit wants them. For if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you. Anyone who tells you differently is either not seeing clearly themselves… or is not being honest.

“One of the major causes of suffering
is that we do not see life clearly, exactly as it is.”
~ Buddha

Quit fooling yourself. See clearly. It’s in the struggle to learn that we become bigger, better, more awake and alive! It’s in fighting our own adversary that we grow wiser.

During these times of difficulty and challenge you’ll most likely hurt, you’ll most likely suffer, you’ll be scared and afraid; and yet if you’re wise you’ll learn.

In times of change the learners will inherit the Earth. While the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to succeed in a world that no longer exists.”
~ Eric Hoffer

There’s only one way that it’s possible to more elegantly deal with internal pain and suffering that challenge often brings; and that’s through a commitment to growth and greatness. A commitment to see life clearly and to understand what life is truly about.

You must learn to be comfortable with discomfort.
For if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.

Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford, worked with driving coach Ross Bentley to study the minds and extreme focus of racecar drivers. With races lasting for hours upon hours, under intense pressure, and at breakneck speeds, these drivers must be focused to say the least. One error can not only mean losing the race… it can literally mean losing life.

A much simplified conclusion into the characteristics of extreme focus are two things:

  • Extreme focus is the result of the flow state. (reference MGG series)
  • Extreme focus is the result of the ability to make a mistake and not let it blow your concentration.

Mistake is a manmade term we use to label things we don’t like.
Yet mistakes are most often our greatest teachers.

Again, what are you committed to?

Read here how Leaders make a commitment to find their authentic overarching purpose in life.

In these two points above I believe are a wealth of knowledge; as well as game-changing distinctions if you’re paying attention.

If you’re committed to growth and learning then you will naturally seek out “mistakes.” Please read that again. Put it in your coffee and stir.

Only those who will risk going too far
can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~ T.S. Eliot

Dweck concluded that there are basically two types of mindsets in the human species. What she called a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.”

Simply put, those with a fixed mindset assume that abilities, like intelligence and athletics, are fixed and unchangeable.

Conversely, those with a growth mindset believe that natural born talents are the starting point (key) for a lifelong learning process gained through hard work and dedication. (reference MGG series)

Those with a growth mindset are more able to enter focused flow quickly, and to stay there more consistently no matter what happens during the race. Same is true in the race and game of life.

The key point I will reemphasize but not belabor (because it’s been discussed in great depth and detail elsewhere), is that a fundamental tenant of a growth mindset is that “natural born talents are the starting point.”

This presupposes that you must clearly know your natural born talents, your Innate Abilities, before you can use them as a starting point. (reference MGG and IAD).

The first thing you find on a map in the mall is the big red X stating “you are here.” Until you know where you are… there’s no way to know how to get where you’re going. Are you with me?

The next step is that once you know where you are, with a growth mindset you must obviously focus on growth. To grow we have to take risks; and to take risks we have to be open to making “mistakes.”

The greatest risk in today’s rapidly changing world is to take no risk.

Barbara Sahakian, the neuropsychologist form University of Cambridge, states, “If you’re interested in mastery you have to learn this lesson. To really achieve anything you have to be able to tolerate and enjoy risk.”

Please note: and enjoy (in joy) risk!

One of the greatest risks that we create internally is the perceived risk which threatens our own self-image. I’ve been there, done that and gotten two tee shirts.

When I was being hit from all four corners by the press and others, my intent and integrity were in question, my teachings were being attacked, and my reputation was suspected… it hurt! That’s an understatement.

But the fact… is that the only thing that truly hurts is the false self-image and/or reputation we attempt to uphold. Please read that again.

The only things that hurt our self-image, the only things we tend defend ourselves from, are the things others say that we believe might be true

Those with a true growth mindset are open to feedback—be it in a race, in business, or about their own personality and behavior. Even—and this is key—even if it’s unflattering! Please read that again.

To reach our full potential we must know ourselves accurately. We must know life accurately. We must in the words of the Buddha, “see life clearly, exactly as it is.”

When we see clearly, when we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and accept life as it is, we’re emboldened to move forward and utilize what we’ve been given to our own advantage.

Every single one of my setbacks has taught me what was deep inside of me—and you—and us all. Beyond the false self-image. Beyond the good opinion of others. Beyond the disappointment and pain and broken expectations.

What appears to be the devil in your life is actually just God in disguise.

I’ve always found a way to pull out of the shadows… to find light in the darkness; and so can you.

I’ve always found a way to grow… and so can you.

I may or may not have met the original objective I set out to accomplish; but I met the challenge. And in retrospect I’ve always found something better than the original objective… for it’s in the challenge and the learning that we become better, bigger, more.

Please read that last paragraph and please tell me that you’re thinking.

The beginner sees everything as either a blessing or a curse.
The master sees everything as an opportunity for growth.

Those with a fixed mindset see the world as black and white. Bad or good. Wrong or right. Mistake or mark. Strikeout or success.

The person with a growth mindset sees everything, even when uncomfortable, even when unflattering, even when undesirable, even when painful and frightening, as input for further development, advancement and growth.

Which are you?

Fixed or Growth Minded?

Stay Awake, Love Life, and Be Epic!

james arthur ray


Permission to re-post my personal articles is granted with acknowledgment of the author, James Arthur Ray and a link back to this website. Thanks and Enjoy!

5 Responses

  1. 'Sometimes life does its best to break you.' People may be looking for 'love' in all the wrong places! You are correct that the greatest mystery is figuring out who 'I am'. As long as we look for meaning, answers, solutions, the why, our why, none of it makes much difference.

    My favorite riddle….

    Mastery is a moving target that is never reached but always fully experienced in the moment. – JAR

    Commitment is accountability minus involvement. It is taking responsibility before the fact rather than after the fact. Commitment makes nothing happen. Action does. Everyone is committed, like a concept. What people have is what they have been comitted to…. Changing commitments changes what is possible.

    A double quote!

    Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

    All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamt would have come his way.

    I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

    "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

    from "The Scottish Himalayan Expedition"
    by W. H Murray

    Thank you James for carving out a larger commitment.

  2. Thank you both for your time and insights. Both pertinent and thought (and action) provoking. And…ironically I picked Antelope today in the Animal Medicine Cards (ref Sams & Carson). Time to step up the actio

  3. Thanks James once more! I was going to say that you need to have a thick skin to be able to survive the tests, but you just answered that when you said that we need to actually feel comfortable and even enjoy risk, so if you are comfy and having a great time the comments of the other have really no impact in yourself.

    I don't know how you manage James to come even stronger after what you had to live these years but I guess that the worst lesson was for those who attacked you for the fun of it. Many people were not actually involved in the situations but attacked you very violently. I would like to see their faces when they see a stronger and wiser James.

    Now you have more authority to talk about these subjects than many others. You have been there and lived through that.

    Thank you for sharing your lessons with us and enlighten us as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *