Updated: Jun 20, 2020
In 2007 Stanford University carried out a season-long study on the mindset of racing drivers, Carol Dweck who completed the study wanted to understand what mentality the winning drivers had.
There are two mindsets a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. The fixed mindset believes that they are a product of their talent and that they are either good at what they do " a natural " so to speak or they are not good at something and if they are not then they will avoid doing it.
On the other hand, the growth mindset will persevere to become better at the task and can recognise that a skill can be learned and with more effort, they can accomplish more.
The fixed mindset is common in many sports and within the paddock in motor racing. The fixed mindset racer has been quick all of his life, they have found it easy and has not had to question their ability to win but there is a flaw in this mindset though, as talent alone will plateau and sooner or later you get to a class where everyone around you is quick, when it does the fixed mindset racer starts to struggle with the reasoning behind it. The lack of performance must be down to the machine, the team, the mechanics, the weather or conditions. They all become the reasons for lower performance rather than looking inward, "after all I have always been quick right?" Whereas in the same situation a growth mindset racer is looking for more work to be done to bridge the gap between his performance and the leading group.
In the university study, Dweck discovered that the majority of winners over the season had a growth mindset. As many car races last hours it is easy to lose focus and get distracted causing an error and the growth mindset racers recovered from the mistakes faster and were able to regain focus to end up winning the race. The growth mindset racers were able to learn from their mistakes, whereas the fixed mindset tends to wrestle with reality, in a John McEnroe style "you cannot be serious" rant to themselves or back in the pit box.
Remember Hamilton and Vettel in Baku and they have 10 World Championships between them so a fixed mindset can affect anyone
The fixed mindset can also increase the inner mind chatter as everything is being evaluated and debated in your own head over a race weekend and even during the race. Techniques to overcome the mind chatter and build concentration and focus are vital for performing at your best in motorsport.
The good news is that mindsets can be changed, through awareness the growth mindset can be adopted moving a driver from where they are today to where they want to be.
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