Hi there! Welcome to another Centurion Mindset Post. First off let me say thank you for taking the time to read this. truly believe the mentality I am going to talk about here can help you change the life of any athlete, or any person really who can apply it. This is perhaps my second favorite mindset I’ve ever been taught by anyone. The reason being is that this mindset is really the reason I am writing this blog for you to be able to read; because this has pushed me to focus on growth and constant improvement, which led me to where I am today in my career both professional and coaching. This is another mentality that comes from my Penn State Wrestling experience, taught to me by my head coach Cael Sanderson. For anyone who doesn’t know that back story feel free to check out my post all about My Penn State Wrestling Experience. Anyway, onto the mindset, which as you might have guessed from the title is called Permanent Beta.
What is Permanent Beta?
Good question! Permanent Beta can loosely be summarized as a growth mindset, but I like to say that it’s with a twist! In our society there is often a focus on growth and getting better. but I believe there’s too much emphasis on mastery. You see too many trying to become “Perfect”. In any endeavor there are those who chase perfection, even those who have claimed to have achieved it. This is something that I believe just leads people down a path of feeling like a failure or generally leads to unhappiness. Especially in athletics, few athletes are ever perfect, especially in wrestling. I have known many “perfectionists”, these people have been some of the most successful people I’ve ever met. However, they are also often heavily stressed. They want perfect grades, perfect relationships, the perfect life. But life isn’t meant to be perfect. We as people are not perfect beings, we are quite literally evolving daily! The world our grandparents knew is vastly different from ours, our grandchildren will know a different world, that is called constant change and improvement. This leads me into what Coach Cael, my head coach at Penn State, calls the “Permanent Beta” a concept that we are in a constant state of improvement, an infinite beta testing if you will. Picture your phone for example. Only 25 years ago a phone of the magnitude we now possess was unthought of, but now we are constantly improving them. Even once our phone is released there’s constant updates to the operating system, to the apps we use, etc. We are always improving every facet of our lives, so we should always be improving ourselves as well!
How do I apply the Permanent Beta to my life?
Anytime you learn something you should always be working on the practical application of it. Knowledge is power only to the extent that it is actually utilized. If I know how to do math very well but I refuse to do it, that doesn’t help me or anyone else. Applying the permanent beta is very simple, you must learn to love the process of growth rather than the results you achieve.
Now, I say simple, but not EASY. There’s a difference. Simple means that it’s clear how to do it, easy would mean that there’s no difficulty in doing it. Changing your mindset to focus on the process of constant improvement is not easy for most people. It was not easy for me. I grew up someone obsessed with the results, I wanted the best grades I could get, the coolest friends, the nicest things. I was worried about the results because I worried what other people would think of me. When I was taught this Permanent Beta, I worked very hard to apply it. As I did, I realized several changes to my life. I learned to love learning more than the grades, I learned to cherish friends who made me better and supported me, and I learned to care about the opinion of few overall because I know where I am heading. Applying the permanent beta means making life all about the journey, the process, and learning to constantly improve on the prior you. I personally love learning from YouTube, audiobooks, books, and podcasts. These are some of my favorite mediums to use to improve myself, but you have to do whatever works for your learning style!
What will change once I adopt this mindset?
You will begin a life of constant growth and change; you won’t stress about the results because they will come as you improve, you will focus on learning from results rather than dwelling on them. You’ll become a better version of yourself each and every day! Ultimately I truly believe that this mindset can help bring others more happiness by not focusing on things they can’t control much, the results, but ultimately make you happy to go through life constantly feeling like you’re improving! One caveat though, no matter how great you become always remember you can always be better. Even the greatest athletes in the world are always working their game because that’s how you stay great!
How Does this apply to athletics?
Now, a big part of the permanent beta came in effect from my athletic career. That is where I learned it and began to apply it and then apply it to the rest of my life. I learned quickly from Coach Cael and PSU that the sooner I adopted a growth mindset the quicker I could find the difference it would make. I was willing to take risks in wrestling as well as life in the name of growth. After all, we don’t learn anything if we don’t try anything. In life a growth mindset is essential to success. As a wrestler you can never think you’ve peaked, you can never be satisfied with where you currently are, we must always be progressing. Always improving, in a state of Permanent Beta!
As it applies to wrestling let me use an example. The difference between how to view something through a singular, fixed mindset vs the growth minded permanent beta.
If I am a great youth wrestler, I get to high school and am given all of these expectations of success by those around me. I am told I can be a state champion, help lead my team, and to achieve team success as well. Quickly my career becomes so focused on these goals, some not even within my control. I will fear risks, I will fear anything that doesn’t yield results because with a fixed mindset that is all I am concerned with. When I lose there are many who turn on me quickly. When my team loses, we get frustrated with each other because we start blaming each other. All we care about is wins and losses, we forget what it takes to get there. We think we are already incredible so what more is there to do? This results in stagnation and overall being upset more and more by lack of success or what we deem to be success. If I and my team fall short of our goals for the season, we will be upset rather than being proud of what we may have otherwise accomplished.
Results are important sure, but nothing but continual progress towards them will get you there. That is like trying to move to second base in baseball but being unwilling to step off first base.
Now, to view the same scenario from the Permanent Beta perspective. I am a great youth wrestler. I have achieved many goals I set out to and have found a love for the sport. I seek to be better each and every day and I work hard because I love the sport. I don’t believe I will ever be perfect, so I don’t put a ceiling on my career. When I get to high school, I am considered one of the best on my team right away. My goal is to be a state champion but I back that up by working hard each and every day. I don’t care about the results because I don’t chase perfection, I chase opportunity. Each match is a chance to prove to myself that I am better than I was yesterday, not prove anything to anyone else. I am expected to win by my coaches, family and teammates but I let that pressure motivate me, not crush me. I support my teammates to help my team become better, I push them to love improvement. We celebrate victories and learn from losses. All around me I see constant improvement, in myself, my teammates, and how our team functions. I motivate my teammates and myself through positive action towards improvement, not putting pressure on to chase results. We have nothing to prove but improvement. Even if we all fall short of our goals for the season so long as we continued to work hard and are better at the end than we were at the start success is a certainty. We will always be proud of what we did because it will drive us to improve upon our results. That is a permanent beta mindset applied.
How we applied it at Penn State:
My coaches at Penn State taught my entire team this concept, and they wanted us to embody it so much they had a small infinity sign put on our practice shirts. They wanted to remind us each and every day to continue chasing perfection but to know that we would never achieve it. To stay in a constant state of permanent beta. When I was at PSU my team won four straight national championships. I had multiple teammates who were 2x or 3x National champions. But perhaps the best story of application of Permanent Beta was in 2017. After the 2017 national championship we had won the title by a large margin and had 5 of the 10 National Champions. Every teammate who was in National finals won. But one thing our coaches told us was to “Not inhale”. What that means is that they didn’t want us to be satisfied and to take to heart what everyone was telling us. Our goal is constant improvement, how could we possibly improve on this performance? Win another national title, no that’s not it. We improved on that performance by continuing to improve after we had already achieved our goals. We were taught we are not perfect, and we never thought we were. That is how my team consistently improves upon prior performances. How you have guys lose to opponents in a dual, in Big10s and then beat them in sudden victory in National Finals. Because you don’t limit yourself, don’t think you’re perfect but don’t think you can’t get better either. You are only as good as you believe yourself to be, and you can ALWAYS be better than that!
In summary, always remember that life is about the process, when you focus on process improvement the results will come! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, if you enjoyed it and found value, please take the time to share with others that you believe will find value in this as well! I also appreciate any and all feedback! If you like this concept and want to hear more about it, please feel free to reach out to me directly! You can text or call me on my cell at 856-341-6271 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! Coach Pat Higgins!
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