5 Tips to Employ a Growth Mindset
Ford. Spielberg. Winfrey. Disney.
Each of those names transformed an industry. And each of them suffered major setbacks in their business careers.
Failures Always Follow Successes
Henry Ford started two failed car companies before succeeding with his namesake organization. USC’s Cinematic Arts School rejected Steven Spielberg more than once. Oprah Winfrey and Walt Disney were fired from early jobs -- her for being “too emotionally invested,” and him for lacking “imagination.”
Not to oversimplify the past, but each one of those individuals must have botched a few collaborative opportunities. How else could their supervisors and peers have failed to recognize the potential of their ideas and the value of their contributions to the enterprise? Yet, despite stumbling in their interactions, in time each person became renowned as a transformative influence in American business, if not American culture as a whole.
Use Failures to Spur Growth
How’d they persevere? Leadership guru Travis Bradberry believes their eventual achievements had more to do with attitude than intelligence.
“When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust,” Bradberry writes in a recent column for Entrepreneur. But mindset is a “better predictor” of accomplishment, he argues, than IQ. And he cites research by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck to demonstrate his point.
Fixed Mindet vs. Growth Mindset
Dweck’s studies have determined people’s core attitudes fall into one of two general categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. In short, someone with a fixed mindset believes “you are who you are and you cannot change,” which leads to feelings of hopelessness in the face of challenges.
By contrast, a person with a growth mindset believes effort leads to improvement. “They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new,” says Bradberry.
In his Entrepreneur piece, Bradberry explains that each of the household names we mentioned must have possessed a growth mindset. Otherwise, “They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope.” Instead, they became transformative influences, leading colleagues, companies and entire industries to new heights.
How can you follow the same transformative course?
Dweck’s advice is succinct:
“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”
And Bradberry builds on Dweck’s thinking by suggesting ways to fine-tune one’s mindset for growth, and therefore become a transformative influence. Here’s a digest of his counsel:
1. Inject Passion
Bradberry believes “Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence.” In his article, he offers Warren Buffet’s 5/25 technique for identifying your “true passions.” Write down the 25 things you care about most. Then, review the list and prioritize by scrutinizing and crossing out 20 items. The five items that remain are what inspire your passion most. Keep those in mind at every meeting.
2. Take Action
Channel intangible worries or concerns about past mistakes and future failures into positive, focused acts. “Fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions… the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action,” Bradberry says. But be wary of stalling: “There’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward.” Hence, there’s no better time to draft an action plan than the meeting at hand.
3. Expect Results
In Dweck’s eyes, failure is data, not legacy. So, even a history of disappointments is no reason to stop setting objectives and expecting positive outcomes from your business interactions. Every conference call, web session or video chat should have a stated purpose at the start and a set of next steps at conclusion.
4. Practice Flexibility
According to Bradberry: “People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back.” So, the inability to resolve each issue in every meeting isn’t a sign of futility; it’s cause to schedule a follow-up session and get busy drafting a new agenda.
5. Don’t Complain
“Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset,” says Bradberry, and at odds with finding opportunity in obstacles and adversity. Put another way, what complaints transform most is the tone of a meeting – from positive to negative.