Hula Hoops and Thought Loops

by: Coach Julie Hartman

This might sound like a weird comparison, but I’m intrigued by hula hooping and how there’s a correlation between it and mindset, or thought loops. Hula hooping utilizes skills such as coordination, rhythm, patience, timing, and intentional effort. Tapping into a growth mindset utilizes similar qualities.  I’m fascinated to learn about the skill sets and patterns in both thinking and physical talents, and how they work together.

Are hula hooping and positive thinking something that comes naturally or do they require practice?

What is required to keep the hoop, and our thinking patterns, level and rhythmically moving rather than rapidly descending?

And for the real question, why do I look like an awkward penguin when I step into a hula hoop? 

Thank goodness being an excellent hula-hooper is not a necessity for me, so I’m not exactly motivated to successfully twirl a toy hoop around my neck, waist or limbs. My confidence level isn’t tied to it.  No doubt those closest to me are grateful to be spared witnessing such a feat.  My mindset, however, is a different story. My performance in all areas is greatly affected by my level of confidence and where I choose to invest my focus and energy. 

If at first you don’t succeed, try again

Mastering hula hooping and mastering thought looping, aka mindset, are not so dissimilar. The formula looks something like this:

  • A goal or outcome is decided upon
  • Mindfulness (observation of) thoughts and feelings about where you are compared to the desired goal or outcome
  • Research and resource gathering for the ‘how’
  • Try
  • Fail
  • Try
  • Improve
  • Maybe fail again
  • Adjust, innovate, recalibrate
  • Keep going

In summary, to do anything in life we have to first decide and then take action with one small step, and then another. As our abilities grow, so does belief in ourselves. As the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”   Consistent practice develops skills, which lessens fear so confidence can grow. 

The Confidence-Competence Loop

Confidence.competence loop

Researchers call this the confidence-competence loop. 

There are many definitions out there for confidence. One of my favorites is from Mel Robbins which is, “confidence is a willingness to try.”  She also explains that confidence is a skill that can be built, through repetitive and consistent actions.  So the practical question remains – how do I become more confident? The simple answer is by becoming more competent. 

We can all admit that success accelerates when we’re confident.

When we’re confident we take action. When we take action, we improve our skills. It’s a chicken-and-egg sort of scenario. Which comes first, the competency or the confidence? It’s a loop of competence and confidence working together to feed and support one another.  It’s a synchronized hip swing that moves the hula hoop.  It’s a growth mindset thought loop that says  ‘yes’ to the willingness to try, work through the fear of failure, and not give up on ourselves no matter what – even in those moments when we look like an awkward, uncoordinated penguin. It’s about progress, not perfection.

Step by Step

Life offers and asks us to step into who we can be. How will you accept the challenge and feed your unique confidence-competence loop? Every day, my colleagues here at Empower the Learner, Kathleen McClaskey and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, for whom I have great admiration, challenge me to stretch my borders and embrace my strengths and challenges. Witnessing their incredible work and dedication to courageously creating positive change in the world inspires me to want to do the same.  Progress and fulfillment are the rewards for a willingness to operate outside of comfort zones.  Striving to be better and do more is the goal.  Confidence, competence, confidence, competence … so on and so forth is the formula to get us there.  



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