As a clinical psychologist, I find myself looking at the deeper meanings of what my students and clients say and do. For example, how often have we heard a child say “this is easy” while they can barely complete the training drill. This is typically a healthy, normal response in order to maintain our ego or belief that we are “good.” However, the problem lies that this behavior does not demonstrate integrity and can lead to further self deception that limits our ability to improve our skills by learning from our weaknesses. With that said, lets explore the meaning of integrity more and how slight changes in our mindset can make a huge difference in our performance, wellness and lead to excellence.
Integrity is more than just doing the right thing when others aren’t looking. It’s more than being honest with others. I believe integrity is also about being willing to look at oneself in an open and honest way. It is about our willingness to tell ourselves the truth. It is about having awareness of our weaknesses, faults, and failures and seeing them as opportunities to improve. This concept is called growth mindset and Dr. Brandy Baker recently wrote about it on her two part post, “When a Child Says She Hates To Learn, Part One” and Part Two. Here are 3 ways in which integrity can lead to excellence:
- Accepting Failure: Being able to accept one’s failures and be motivated by them to improve our performance is crucial to becoming an olympic champion or a master in other areas of our lives. The priceless insights we gain by looking at our failures allows us to identify areas that we can improve and thus improve our performance through deliberate practice as a result.
- Examining Failure: Without the ability to see the truth of our failures by examining them with curiosity rather than shame, we miss an opportunity to strengthen our weaknesses bit by bit, which in turn is what sets the best from the rest. Therefore, it is important to help our students shift their mindsets about failure from shame and embarrassment to one of growth and opportunity. One way this is done is by being honest with them; for example, rather than fall into the common trap of telling your student they were cheated from a first place trophy, explain to them in a gentle and compassionate manner that they weren’t good enough. Yes, that was not a typo. Tell your student they weren’t good enough and if that want first place, they are going to have to work hard to earn it. Another example, is to simply lead by example and when we, as instructors, fail at something, think out loud so that our students hear how failure can become an opportunity to get better.
- Growing From Failure: Like the phoenix raising from the flames, we too are able to raise stronger after a failure when we have a growth mindset. Yes, the that old adage is true about “the truth can be painful” but what it missed is that it also craves the way for growth. Once we have accepted our failures and see them as an opportunity for growth we can create an improvement plan. The key to this is to identify and deliberately practice the specific ability that caused our initial failure. Thus, if the failure came from poor balance or an improper side kick technique, we would create a training plan that would focus on improving our balance or a plan that helps us develop a stronger side kick technique.
With that said, remember that integrity is about taking an honest look at ourselves and examining what we discover with curiosity in order to identify our areas of growth. These areas of growth, are the ones champions and masters train to achieve the highest level of excellence. If this post was helpful, please leave a comment below and tell us what’s your answer to our question below.
What ways do you respond to failure?
Integrity is one of the five tenets of Taekwondo taught at Taekwondo Wellness. Check out my previous posts if you’re interested in learning about how courtesy and self control impact mental health. Also, be on the lookout for future blog post describing how the other tenets may improve mental health as well. If you are interested in learning more about our programming, please call 520-333-3320 or visit our dojang at Intuition Wellness Center.
Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist
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