In 4 Words, the NBA’s Stephen Curry Reveals the Mental Strategy That Makes Him a Star
Having a growth mindset means you’re always striving to top your personal best.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Despite achieving record-setting statistics in the NBA, Stephen Curry says he hasn't peaked yet. That should scare opponents and inspire you.
As the 2018-2019 NBA season gets underway, the league's best shooter has issued a challenge--not to his competitors, but to himself. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry surprised the reporter with this statement: "I feel like I can get better at putting the ball in the basket."
"I can get better."
In four words Curry revealed the mental attitude that gives him an edge. According to the Wall Street Journal article, Curry is the most efficient shooter in NBA history. And yet, according to the people who know him best, the word "peak" isn't in his "thought process." They're right. His thought process is different, but not unfamiliar to psychologists who study champions.
The Growth Mindset
Curry has the attitude that Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has identified as a "Growth Mindset." Athletes and entrepreneurs with such a mindset believe their potential is limitless. People with a "fixed mindset" see no room for improvement. Having a growth-minded approach means you're open to learning new skills and cultivating better habits--no matter how good you are today.
Dweck says that many growth-minded people did not start out that way. In fact, they were rather ordinary. Curry's NBA draft report confirms Dweck's argument. In a video for CoachUp, Curry himself read from parts of the 2009 draft report: "Curry's athleticism are below standard. He's not a great finisher around the basket. He has to considerably improve as a ball handler. He will limited success at the next level."
Curry's growth mindset was no match for the scouts.
Using Victories to Step to the Next Level
After the Warriors won their third title in four years, Curry didn't rest over the summer. He put in three hours a day, six days a week in the off-season, making 600-700 points a session. Growth mindset people are obsessed with learning because they believe they can get smarter, be better leaders, excel at public-speaking or, like Curry, improve their shooting efficiency. They celebrate victories, but they see successes as milestones and not the end game.
"I don't just show up and expect to be great," says Curry in his newly released Master Class. Curry calls himself his "fiercest opponent." Opposing teams "look small compared to the expectations I have for myself."
For twenty years I've interviewed famous entrepreneurs, CEOs, millionaires and billionaires. I've worked directly with leaders who have started some of America's most admired brands. When I ask them why they sought out my help or feedback, they say, "I can always learn more" or "I can do better." They are learn-it-alls and not know-it-alls.
The growth mindset only grows stronger as great leaders get older. Earlier this year, I spoke to a company whose founder is in his 60s. He reads more books than most of his employees and is constantly learning new and better ways of doing business. This week, I'm meeting with an entrepreneur and philanthropist in his 70s. He wants to improve as a speaker to impart the wisdom he's acquired during a highly successful career. He's just obsessed with learning as he is with success because he knows his attitude has made all the difference.
According to Stephen Curry in Master Class, "Your state of mind is the main driving force behind your successes and failures. Stay hungry, stay driven." Are you improving or staying in place? Are you growing or fixed? Psychologists say the choice really is yours.