Whether raising your kids or growing your employees, mindset is key to success. In a recent blog, I shared about the Growth Mindset and the Fixed Mindset. A Growth Mindset fosters motivation, resilience, and persistence. A Fixed Mindset kills it. As a parent, I don't have to tell you that you want to raise successful kids, and as business owners and leaders, we need to create an environment around us that fosters a Growth Mindset.
So how do you do?
Seek Out Learners
Often times, in business, as expertise increases, individuals struggle more and more to see new solutions or ideas. Learning stalls, and this leads businesses to get stuck in their thinking. The same thing happens with children in school.
In order to adopt a Growth Mindset that can fuel your organization forward, you must focus on people’s capacity and not their pedigree. As such, recruitment should value people who show a real commitment to learning. These people will help build a learning culture, develop independently, collaborate successfully, and be able to adapt to whatever challenges arise.
Individuals who value learning and show a capacity and passion for continual knowledge have a natural Growth Mindset that can move any business toward success.
Creating a Growth Mindset means enabling each individual’s work to be more than just their job. Developing new skills—even if they shift outside of someone’s current daily work—is always valuable.
I believe that understanding and learning other roles can help promote empathy, collaboration, and encourage new ways of approaching things. And setting aside time to build skills such as collaboration and leadership is key to making your people more productive and inspired at work.
The key is to make sure they have the ability to participate in activities, tasks, or projects that are not in their job description. This can be as simple as letting them listen in on a client call, as elaborate as sending them to advanced training, or asking them to represent your company at a trade show. They will learn and grow more confident and committed to you and your company.
Build a Culture of Risk-Taking and Tolerance for Failure
An inevitable part of growth is failure. Adopting a Growth Mindset means accepting the chance that, in the end, you might fail. But innovation, creativity, and fueling a business forward wouldn’t be possible if humans weren’t willing to take risks.
Often, this starts at the top. Leaders should set an example but also allow all employees to take on leadership roles – giving individuals the independence and freedom to try things, fail, and learn from their mistakes.
Taking on challenges is key. And organizations who view their people as capable of taking on challenges—even if it means failing—position themselves for success.
This is the same with our children.
Drive, Commitment, Determination, and Innovation
Employees at Growth Mindset companies feel more committed to their work because they feel they have the potential to grow, learn, and thrive within it. They also feel more motivated to do their best because they know that their personal development and hard work are valued. The same should be true for how kids feel about going to school, don’t you think?
In fact, research has shown that employees at Growth Mindset organizations pursue more innovative projects. They also behave more transparently, cut fewer corners, and work more collaboratively. And these authentically-motivated people will drive innovation and fuel business.
When structuring your child’s learning journey, you should consider what is making them not be transparent about their struggles, what will make them cut corners when it comes to studying, and how you can engage them collaboratively in the learning process and their options.
An Important Note About Upbringing and Its Impact on Future Mindset
Think about your childhood…
I resonated with sociologist Annette Lareau, who addresses the importance of these questions in her book Unequal Childhoods. The booktalks about the different parenting styles around “concerted cultivation” and “natural growth.” It examines parenting style differences between middle class, working-class, and poor parents—and what it does to a kid’s future. The reason the book hit home with me is because, when you are trying to raise or lead Firework Humans using Growth Mindset and encouraging the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts, understanding the difference a set of childhood experiences has on a human is critical.
I recognize that I was raised in a Natural Growth family and that my life (how I think, the choices I made, the risks I took) could have landed me in a very different place. This is why understanding when to “structure” versus when to “unstructure” your child’s or your employee’s workday is very important.
Mindset is everything. You can’t fully develop a Growth Mindset without first acknowledging the socio-economic impact of your early years. Understanding this about yourself and your employees will make you a better leader.
Understanding your family’s opportunities and limitations will also help you make the right choice in guiding your child’s educational journey by knowing what to supplement and support them within learning and exposure to different activities.
What is Concerted Cultivation?
Concerted cultivation is a middle-class style of parenting that involves deliberate cultivation of a child's development. In this situation, a family puts their kid in the best schools and structures all their activities. The parents are kind of prepping kids in all the ways to succeed. They are providing a success roadmap, and the kid is not really making decisions for themselves.
In many ways, Concerted Cultivation gives children an advantage because it aligns with the demands of the professional world. But it can also lead to a Fixed Mindset and under-develop many entrepreneurial instincts.
What is Natural Growth
Natural Growth, on the other hand, does not always provide for this same opportunity. Lareau found that children from middle-class families simply have more opportunities due to their economic resources than children from poor and working-class families.
With a Natural Growth situation, many of these parents can't afford all of those activities, and they can’t afford private school, so they leave it up to the teachers, the neighborhood, and the relatives to fill in the educational gaps naturally as opposed to having it planned out.
Good aspects of Natural Growth are that you see families having BBQs and having family get-togethers to hang out, play, and eat together—because it does not require them to spend money at a restaurant. This is fantastic for teaching lessons, passing down generational history, and bonding. These kinds of activities dictate who they step out into the world to be as human beings.
A Natural Growth situation often forces the evolution of Entrepreneurial Instincts and a Growth Mindset because there is more freedom to explore during the day, less structured learning/activities, and because being entertained can ignite creativity.
There are good and not-so-good points in both Concerted Cultivation and Natural Growth mindsets. Imagine what harnessing your child’s or your employee’s mindset will do for their ability to succeed at anything life throws them.
To learn more about igniting a spark with your kids or employees, pre-order a copy of my new book, Firework Humans, due out Spring 2021. You’ll learn more about the Growth Mindset, the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts, and how to foster these at work and at home. I’m also throwing in a few freebies as a thank you for supporting my efforts to spread this message!