Since writing the below post, I have decided to embark upon a creative, philosophical and entrepreneurial sabbatical from the corporate world. Given the growth mindset played such an important part in inspiring that decision, I imported my Linked In article from 23 October 2016. I hope it serves as a useful introduction to the growth mindset.
For a long time, I was afraid to fail. Being someone whose identity is linked with “being capable”, I associated failure with lack of skill and incompetence. I did not associate it with growth, insight, originality and exploration. If only I learnt how wrong I was sooner.
It has been 1 year and 2 months since I changed careers from law to business strategy. Rejecting the instincts my legal training imbued in me, I pursued a role I had no experience in. I went from expert to learner.
The challenge I pursued was to build the improvement program at an ASX100 fund manager. I had no track record. I had never championed cultural change nor led at the enterprise level. I never worked in strategy, continuous improvement or technology. Yet I knew I had something to offer. I was appointed to the role.
For months, I had to learn “in place”. I felt daunted. I felt like an imposter. I felt self-doubt. Yet a part of me felt …. free. It was a new program, there were no expectations. We could deploy tremendous creativity.
As I navigated my fear, the growth mindset philosophy (pioneered by Carol Dweck) inspired me. A growth mindset is the antidote to a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset believes:
- Your intelligence + talents are fixed at birth
- The goal is to look talented otherwise you are perceived as “less than”
- Failure or making mistakes is feared
- Natural talent is valued
A growth mindset believes:
- Talents + abilities can be developed through effort, discipline & trying new strategies
- The goal is self-actualisation & continuous improvement through deliberate practice
- Replacing a fear of failure with a love of learning
- Coachability and ability to learn is valued
A fixed mindset pursues perfection. A growth mindset realises that perfection is an illusion. Growth is continuous and infinite. You never truly “get there”. This knowledge liberates all of us to pursue – not perfection – but our infinite potential.
I have since experienced the benefits of the learner and growth mindset. Unburdened by expectation, my team not only built a 3 year plan and executed against it, we accelerated it and are cultivating a reputation for building best in breed capability. All in 12 months.
I still move into fixed mindset. This isn’t a failure; merely another chance to practice. And you know what they say about practice?
It makes you better.