How Athletes can use the growth mindset to manage finances

We applied Professor Carol S. Dweck Growth Mindset model to Athletes and Finance.

How can we help athletes better manage money?  Athletes with right mindset not only excel on their profession, but also can learn how to excel in money, finances and taxes. Some people call it ‘life -hack’ – the use of a ‘growth mindset’ to better manage finances and life for that matter. I recently came across a post on how to reduce stress; it included seven tips on how to live a better life. A few of the tips can be easily applied to the matter at hand: money management.


Tip number five is to develop a growth mindset, which is a theory based on the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, a social psychology professor at Stanford University, who explains the different type of mindsets.


From the book:


“A fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone – who you are is who you are, period. Characteristics such as intelligence, personality, and creativity are fixed traits, rather than something that can be developed.

A growth mindset comes from the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through effort. Yes, people differ greatly – in aptitude, talents, interests, or temperaments – but everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

There are many examples of successful athletes with a growth mindset. An individual with this mindset must be able to embrace challenges.  See for example Dwayne Wade taking business classes at Harvard Business School.  His thirst for knowledge will help him handle the business side of life – so important in today’s endorsement-driven world. By being open to learning, he’s willing to grow. Some young athletes today don’t want to take the time to learn, which is why many end up in ruins after retirement.

Just Ask

Former NBA player Adnon Foyle  – author of a guidebook about athletes and finances – talks about the importance of asking the right questions.

“I think that players continue to make bad decisions in part because they’re afraid to ask questions and in part because people just try to take advantage of them,” he told NPR a while back.

Many young athletes are afraid of asking questions, as they don’t have the confidence or sufficient knowledge on financial issues. That’s why it’s great to see programs like the Financial Literacy Program created by Justin Tuck and his wife. These athletes are embracing the challenges and educating others on how to handle them.

Growth mindset pushes athletes out of comfort zone

Persistence in the face of setbacks is another requirement.  I didn’t have to go far for this example: I thought about Hassan Whiteside’ story. From playing pick-up games at the YMCA in Charlotte, N.C., to triple-double’s for the Miami Heat.  Before that, Whiteside had moved around the league after being drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2010 and played overseas before earning a spot in Miami. He kept working on his game and got his chance. He is now set to sign a big free agency contract anywhere from $18 to $22 million.

Some other traits of the growth mindset are ‘effort as a path to mastery’  – does Michael Jordan or Lebron James ring a bell?  Or finding lessons and inspiration from the success of others, which in sports means not only observing competing teams, but also your teammates for lessons.

It made me think of Jamal Mashburn – now a successful businessman – and the way coach Rick Pitino describes him on his book The One Day Contract: “Jamal knew how to save and develop a lifestyle that was healthy and humble for his family”. Today, they are successful business partners as well.

A growth mindset will push athletes outside their comfort zones, helping them develop the confidence to ask the right questions and make better decisions when it comes to finances.