Empowering Exercises

Growth Mindset - Without Gravity

Growth Mindset: Adopt a Winner Attitude towards Life!

Growth Mindset: Adopt a Winner Attitude towards Life!25601788Manolis Stratakis

Fixed or growth mindset?

A growth mindset is one of the most important assets for success in life. On contrast, a fixed mindset not only helps but actually restricts our growth.

Two different mentalities, two ways of life

There are two different schools of thought. The first supports that people grow and evolve. The second believes that people do not change. It’s funny that both of these philosophies are self-fulfilled, given enough time.

Let’s see why.

The Growth mindset

Those who believe that people change, see themselves as a product in progress. Therefore, they put the required effort and eventually accomplish the change.

Growth Mindset - Without Gravity

Growth Mindset – Without Gravity

Gradually, they change their habits or their behavior. Little by little, they acquire new knowledge and new competencies. They understand that the first attempt, most likely, will not be perfect. But they know the second will be much better. And every new attempt will improve their competency.

The Fixed mindset

The other school of thought says that the person is a finished product. Therefore, it doesn’t change. But, if change is not possible, then any attempt to change would be pointless. So they don’t try and of course, they don’t change.

They are also right!


“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… You’re right!”

– Henry Ford –


Fixed Mindset - With Gravity

Fixed Mindset – With Gravity

Usually, these people believe that they either can or cannot. They fail to see the continuum. As a consequence, they consider vain any effort to improve. So, they bail out after the first difficulty. They believe that they are simply not good enough at this and most probably, they will never succeed.

Metaphorically speaking, in the fixed mindset world there is high gravity which pulls us to earth. On the other hand, gravity in the growth mindset world is very weak and allows us to take-off.

Differences between the two mindsets

Those two mindsets present the following characteristic differences:


People do not change

People improve

Show a tendency to look more clever than they actually are.Have a more realistic self-image and adopt a culture of progressive improvement.
Feel ashamed for their weaknesses and hide them as much as they can.Feel comfortable with their imperfections and inadequacies and put considerable effort to improve.
They are attracted to convenience and are afraid of the unknown. They like to spend time in their comfort zone.Seek adversity and feel ok with the unknown. They take long walks out and away of their comfort zone.
Avoid challenges especially whenever they feel there is a chance to fail.Welcome challenges as they see them as opportunities to become better.
Quit easily when facing obstacles.Persist until they overcome the obstacles they meet.
See effort as pointless and vain.Understand that effort is the vehicle to mastery.
Ignore or avoid criticism even when it is benevolent. They often misunderstand, feel hurt, become distant and unapproachable.Are open to criticism, receive it stoically and earn valuable hints for their own further improvement.
They become excellent in finding excuses to avoid their responsibilities.They take responsibility for their actions, decisions and their life in general.
See the success of others as threat. They feel inferior when they compare their selves with others who are more successful.Get inspired from the success of others. They see their case as a prime example, which helps them come closer to their own success.
Driven by their reptilian brain. Live their life mostly in survival mode.Driven by their neocortex. Live their life mostly in thriving mode.

Which of the two mindsets do you belong?

Observe how you tackle your everyday challenges, effort, criticism and the success of others. Do you persist when you come face to face with obstacles or you abandon the ship?

What is your relationship with adversity and problems? Do you stay in your comfort zone for long or do you enjoy going out of it often?

Exercise: Find out which is your present mindset

Grade how much you resonate with every line of the table above.

Give a mark from 1-10 (1-5 for the fixed mindset and 6-10 for the growth mindset). Let’s define 1 as extreme fixed mindset and 10 as extreme growth mindset)

How to adopt a growth mindset

Following are some ideas which might help you to build a growth mindset. Consider whether some of them could be useful to you.

  • Embrace your imperfections. Don’t hide from your weaknesses
  • See the challenges as an opportunity for self-improvement
  • Try new things and new techniques until you find those which have a better match with you
  • Change in your vocabulary the word failure with the word learning
  • Do not seek the acceptance of others, build your own path
  • Re-define the concept of competence as talent + effort, instead of just talent
  • Welcome well-intentioned criticism, even if at times, it’s mean-spirited
  • Change “I’m not good enough at this” to “I’m not good enough at this yet
  • Learn lessons from your mistakes but also from the mistakes of others
  • Exercise as much as you can your creative and innovative thinking
  • Get inspired from your successes, as well as the successes of others
  • Take responsibility for a mistake or a failure, avoid excuses, stop blaming others or the circumstances

Finally, observe consciously your transformation. Feel proud with your gradual transition from fixed to growth mindset.


«Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.»

– William Jennings Bryan –


It will not be very difficult to adopt the growth mindset, as long as you have realized the benefits.

Remember that this is not going to happen from one day to the next. It is a journey which might take months or even years. Therefore, enjoy your trip, not just the destination!


Continue reading our article about the Comfort Zone.

Also, check the talk by Carol Dweck: Developing a Growth Mindset




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What are your Personal Core Values and how aligned are with your life?

What are your Personal Core Values and how aligned are with your life?150150Manolis Stratakis

What is the difference between our principles and our values?

Our personal values are hidden deep in our mind. Spending some time to discover them, allows us to see which aspects of our life are aligned with them and which are in some kind of conflict!


Our principles are pushed to us by others, from the outside world. They are taught to us. They help us conform to the norms of society. Principles are the musts of our life.


Values ​​come from within us. They are all those things we consider important. Values are the wants of our life. They highlight what we stand for. They ​​guide us in life, especially in difficult times. So, our values largely determine our behaviors, decisions, and actions.

When our plain logic does not seem enough to help us make critical decisions, we mobilize our “heart”. The heart always takes decisions that are based on our values. In other words, when our decisions or activities are in line with our values, an internal motivation is created. Everything seems to roll smoothly. We feel joy and pleasure. We are fulfilled.

On the other hand, when we are forced to deal with something that questions values, we get a vague feeling that something is wrong. We might have a sense of internal tension, anxiety or guilt. As a result, procrastination may fire in as well as other unwanted behaviors.

Most common personal values

Our values ​​- like the instruments of an airplane – guide us through the storms. They define what is important to us and what we give priority to. They determine the decisions we make. Each of us has a different mix of values ​​that makes us special. Life flows smoothly when we live according to our values. But when, for any reason, we are forced to live in a way that is against them, then we get that elusive feeling that something is wrong. We can have a bad mood and low energy.

The moment we begin to think, speak and behave in a way which is aligned with our highest ideals and most important values, our self-image improves, our self-esteem rises and for the first time we feel real freedom. We feel much happier, we breathe, walk and move with a radically different confidence.

The list below shows some of the most important human values. First, think thoroughly and then note which ones resonate with you. Of course, you can always add one you might not see in the list.

Recognition by others
Avoid pressure or conflict
Self confidence
Action and variety
Ability to express
Free time
Development and growth
Spiritual stimuli
Offer to others
Risk taking
Continuous learning

Exercise: Find your own personal values

Don’t wait any longer to make the most valuable investment in yourself. Find those values that are at the core of your existence. Those that motivate you and make you stand out. Once you get to know them, you’ve already taken a big step in your personal development. And that’s only the beginning!

Think and write down your ten most important personal values (try to list them in an order of importance to you):



Read also the article: An introduction to the wheel of emotions


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How high is your Emotional Intelligence?

How high is your Emotional Intelligence?15871116Manolis Stratakis

Emotional Intelligence

EQ and IQ

According to the work of Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) contributes an 80% to success in life. On the other hand, IQ provides the rest 20%. Although none of them is considered fixed and permanent, Emotional Intelligence has the greater margins for growth. In other words, EQ can be trained. Let’s check the levels of our own EQ and see how we can improve it!

Exercise: Check your EQ

Below, you will find a list of qualities, people with high emotional intelligence demonstrate. Check which of those you possess and give them a mark from 1-10.

  1. [ ] ​Self-control and self-discipline
  2. [ ] Impulse control
  3. [ ] Openness, adaptation and embracing change
  4. [ ] Ability to perform under conditions of pressure
  5. [ ] Good understanding of own emotions
  6. [ ] Good understanding of the emotions of others
  7. [ ] Awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  8. [ ] Optimism
  9. [ ] Self-confidence
  10. [ ] Good communication skills
  11. [ ] Acceptance of criticism by other people
  12. [ ] Disagreeing without causing tension
  13. [ ] Offering constructive criticism
  14. [ ] Initiative taking
  15. [ ] Cultivating trust in relationships
  16. [ ] Self-motivation in order to reach goals
  17. [ ] Ability to lead and influence
  18. [ ] Resist prejudice
  19. [ ] Decisiveness
  20. [ ] Persuasion
  21. [ ] Patience
  22. [ ] Persistence
  23. [ ] Curiosity
  24. [ ] Ability to inspire others
  25. [ ] Cooperating without competing
  26. [ ] Teamworking
  27. [ ] Maintaining control in crisis situations
  28. [ ] Control impatience
  29. [ ] Ability to focus
  30. [ ] Acceptance of defeat and failure
  31. [ ] Listening before talking
  32. [ ] Acceptance of our weaknesses
  33. [ ] Personal and work ethics
  34. [ ] Ability to neutralize toxic people
  35. [ ] Giving without expecting
  36. [ ] Knowing when and feeling comfortable saying no
  37. [ ] Ability to slow down, disconnect and relax
  38. [ ] Quick recovery after a mistake or failure
  39. [ ] Robust emotional vocabulary
  40. [ ] Resist perfectionism

I have vs I want

Now, identify which skills you already have and which you want. Check those that you score high and those you score low. Then, write them down in two separate columns, as shown of the following table:

I have enough

I want to improve



Lock the target

Finally, let’s lock the target. Make a special note of those which seem particularly appealing to you. That is, the ones you would like to see in your new version. You need to be clear about why you want them. Also, what will be the benefit of having them. If you know any people possessing these qualities, why not take them as role models?

Let this new realization linger in your mind for the days to come. As long as you keep it in your radar, you will surely find the ways to upgrade yourself.


Also, see the article: Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!


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Mind relaxation exercises

Mind relaxation exercises150150Manolis Stratakis

The following exercises will help you sharpen your observation and augment your cognizance. They will help you kick away the tension of the day and relax your body and mind. Select those that suit you and perform them a few times a day.


I. Sit in a comfortable position, simply with your eyes closed for 5’

II. If there are any external sounds, just focus on them without doing anything else

III. If there are no external sounds, just focus on your breath


I. Bend and touch your toes with your fingers. If you find it difficult, just bend a little and touch your knees. Repeat after a few minutes. Was it a bit easier this time? Repeat again. Do you see how your flexibility is improved after some consecutive attempts?

II. Stretch any of the muscles in your body for 1-2 minutes. Think how you felt before and after.


I. Scan your body from head to toes for a couple of minutes. Try to identify points of interest like:

  • Pain
  • Tension
  • Relaxation

II. As you drive your car, feel your weight on the seat, your hands on the steering wheel, the position of your hands and legs.

III. Consciously observe the texture of the objects you touch with your hands

  • Hardness
  • Temperature
  • Moisture
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Mindfulness and awareness sharpening games

Mindfulness and awareness sharpening games150150Manolis Stratakis

Exercise: Mindfulness and awareness games

Play as many of the mindfulness games described below, as you can. Learn to bring yourself to the here and now. In the long term, they will help you gain a better perception of your body and of the environment, which is very important for a calm and pleasant life.

When brushing your teeth

Try this with your eyes closed for 1-2 minutes. Feel the contact and the overall sense of the toothbrush hair on your teeth and gums. Feel the toothpaste foam bubbles that burst in your mouth. Focus just on a single sense at a time.

In the shower

Allow your mind to have a short break by focusing on one sense at a time. Pay mindful attention to the water drops which fall on your head and your skin. Or to the sound of the water which falls on the shower floor.

On the treadmill

Switch off the iPod and close your eyes (hold the side handles if possible) and listen to the sound of the machine, your breath or the other sounds around you. Try to focus on the feeling of the particular muscles which are exercised. Let time pass without thinking anything. Just feel how your body responds.

When eating

Chew slowly your food, for at least 30-40 times each mouthful. The first times you may need to count but after a while, it becomes a habit. Try to feel the taste and the texture of the food as it changes. Switch off the TV and your mobile phone.

Avoid to do anything else in parallel. Just focus in all the details you can detect about your food. Try it for at least a few times so you can enjoy the experience and then you decide whether you want to continue.

When you touch an object or a person

Try to do it in an active manner, with cognizance. Feel the sensation of the touch. Check the pressure on your fingers or your body. Feel the temperature (heat or coolness) that emits, the hardness, the moisture, the energy. Sense all the feelings this touch generates.

While seated

Feel your weight on the chair. Recognize the contact points. Scan your body. What are the angles of your arms, legs and pelvis? At which points do you detect some tension? What points feel totally relaxed?

Lean forward or shift your body slightly at some direction. Is it better now or worse? Do some tests and gain as much awareness as you can.

While you wait

Look around you. Observe the people and the objects you see. Try to pay mindful attention to every detail you can identify. If there no other objects to observe, turn your attention to yourself. Focus on your breath. How does it feel? Shallow and short? Deep and relaxed?

What feelings can you detect? Anxiety and impatience? Peacefulness and boredom? Whatever you feel is temporary and it is ok. Remember that you gain control this way.

When in pain

Locate the pain point. Its size. What “color” is it? How much space does it take? What is its exact shape and intensity? What is its composition and temperature? Is it stable? Does it move, throb or thump? Is it acute and piercing? Is it sharp?

Finally, recognize, embrace and approve the pain!

Exercise: More mindfulness and awareness games

Try to level up your mindfulness by devising your own awareness and mindfulness games!


See also: Use the Wheel of Emotions to enrich your emotional vocabulary!


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Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!640426Manolis Stratakis

Things you will need for the Gratitude Jar

  • A large jar
  • Small-size paper or post-it notes
  • Lots of gratitude


Perform one or both of the drills below on a daily basis:

  1. Firstly, think of a person to whom you would like to express your gratitude for something good he did for you, or for any other reason. He might have helped you at some point of your life or gave you inspiration through their paradigm. Perhaps they contributed indirectly by helping a person close to you or even contributed to a common cause you care about.

Write a few words expressing your gratitude to this person!

  1. Secondly, think of something for which you are grateful. It can be anything, small or large. Something you may have considered given, but with a closer look you realize it isn’t. Something which you possess and you don’t want to lose. Or something bad which you managed to avoid. Even something bad which actually happened but without affecting you. Or even something bad which simply never happened!

Write just a few words expressing your gratitude about this!

Drop all your notes into your gratitude jar. In some time you will have a jar full with plenty of reasons to be grateful for what life has given you so far.

Gratitude’s effect on your brain

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the structure of the brain. Recently, fMRI has been used to study gratitude. The brain activity of participants was measured when experiencing different emotions, and found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and activates the brain’s reward pathways. In short, just like anti-depressant drugs, gratitude provides your brain with precious neurotransmitters like Serotonin (the happiness and satisfaction hormone) and Dopamine (the pleasure and motivation hormone).


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