I’m sure you’ve heard the expression in some form or another that boils down to: “You either have it or you don’t.”
I completely disagree with this.
It’s too reductive, too reliant on talent and innate ability. It’s a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset and can be incredibly limiting.
I try – key word here “try” – to operate in a growth mindset. It’s not always easy because there are a lot of invisible scripts that hold me back and I have to identify them, and figure out how to rewrite the stories I tell myself.
There are definitely days where learning something new – trying a new skill, trying to improve – really sucks. I wonder if I’ll ever touch my toes or do the splits. I wonder if I could ever run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, or if it’s just not in my genes and if I should play to my strengths and go for ultras instead since I’m good at pacing myself.
But I much prefer the growth mindset. I like trying new things and learning new skills and improving the skills I already have. I like the idea of doing insane things I hadn’t done before. I grew up a non-athlete, but I ran 2 marathons last year and plan to run more.
I let expressions like that hold me back when I was first in college and burned out pretty easily as a result. I never knew if I “had it” or not, and would hang on teacher’s praise as evidence of my innate ability or talent.
But I know now that it’s not entirely true – that’s not the whole story.
I have to keep going – I have to keep learning – I have to find new ways to keep trying and reward myself every time so I’m willing to keep moving forward.
So, I propose a new variation on that expression: “If you don’t have it, you can learn it.”