It’s never too late to adopt a growth mindset

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.

Original post

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:

  1. Your intelligence + talents are fixed at birth
  1. The goal is to look talented otherwise you are perceived as “less than”
  1. Failure or making mistakes is feared
  1. Natural talent is valued

 

A growth mindset believes:

  1. Talents + abilities can be developed through effort, discipline & trying new strategies
  2. The goal is self-actualisation & continuous improvement through deliberate practice
  3. Replacing a fear of failure with a love of learning
  4. 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.

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