Over the years of studying entrepreneurs, with a high degree of accuracy, we know the personality and behavioral characteristics of an entrepreneur: Consistency in pursuit, Determination, and motivation, Laser-vision Focus, Perseverance, Creativity, Integrity, a willingness in taking risks, skill sets in business acumen like accounting and finance.
But a certain ability to learn from mistakes, and a willingness to change is as important as any tangible skill set. These qualities fall under the umbrella of a mindset. Mindset is a set of assumptions or attitudes, habits of the mind formed by previous experience. The power of one’s mindset is best stated by Gandhi, who says, “your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.
Carol Dweck ‘s research and her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, lays out in detail how one’s mindset works for or against one’s personal and professional success.
Let’s take a look at how this works.
Dweck identifies mindset from 2 perspectives: fixed or growth. Though we all may have some of both, we lean toward one or the other.
If you believe that one is born smart, that intelligence is innate, and your talents are fixed traits, then you have a fixed mindset. You believe you have a certain amount of intelligence and that’s it. Your glass is as full as it will get. With a fixed mindset, your goals become to always look smart. A fixed mindset prevents one from seeing there is more to learn, a better way of doing things.
If you believe you can learn and change and grow with effort and persistence, you have a growth mindset. You may not become an Einstein, but you have an extensive capability to get smarter. Your glass is half full, with room to add more. A growth mindset allows one to fear less from failure, because one believes with hard work you can succeed.
What can we learn from these two perspectives, a fixed or growth mindset? How do they affect one’s life?
Let’s look at 2 famous leaders: Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch.
Remember Lee Iacocca? He introduced the Ford Mustang into the American culture. He was an aspiring executive at Ford Motor, and then CEO at Chrysler. His successes are well known, but his failures were only seen through his firings and removal from positions. His fixed mindset, that he was the one who knew it all, that he was the most superior one who had to make all the decisions, got in his way. He thought of himself first as a hero, with little or no regard for the companies he worked for. His fixed mindset stopped him from being open to learning and change.
What about Jack Welch? He made major mistakes early in his career but worked hard to overcome and learn from them and to change who he was. He changed GE’s culture of elitist leadership to one of teamwork, mentorship, valued dialogue, open communication, and change.
So what do you do to change your mindset? Dweck offers 2 suggestions. First, just knowing your mindset can cause a change within. Awareness is not enough, though.
Listen to the monologue you have in your head when you succeed or fail at something you want to accomplish. Is it one of “See, I told you I couldn’t succeed.” or is it “What do I need to do differently to succeed?” What you tell yourself is more powerful than what anyone else may say. Your internal monologue needs to move from one of self-judgment to self-growth.
As an entrepreneur, your health and the health of your business depends on it.