Got talent? Better start putting in the effort to succeed!
Time and again, I have witnessed personal and professional transformations in people’s lives. I am a fervent believer in the art of possibility, in never giving up, and in deeply knowing there will always be a way forward and upward. I believe that if we keep working hard and believing in ourselves, asking for the right help at the right time from the right person or entity, and then put in the effort, success is within our reach. I’d like to recommend a book that explains how you can do this.
In Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D., discerns two attitudes: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Allow me to explain each.
People with a fixed mindset believe that their own natural talent alone will determine their future success. If they’ve got talent, good things will come: without natural talent, they are doomed to fail. Interestingly, a fixed mindset cuts both ways.
A fixed mindset individual who is repeatedly told by parents, prior teachers, admired mentors, and authority figures that they are naturally talented ‘golden’, ‘a superstar’, and are ‘a guaranteed success at anything they do’, often perceives that they are so inherently talented and gifted they do not need to work hard or show up to succeed. These individuals believe their success will come naturally to them. But then it doesn’t.
A fixed mindset individual who is repeatedly evaluated as ‘a problem person’, ‘not very smart’, ‘one of those’, ‘from the wrong side’, ‘a chronic failure’, ‘not deserving of achieving success’, and so forth, often perceives that no matter what they do they will not succeed. This individual comes to believe that they are certain to fail at anything and everything they attempt. They often stop trying before they succeed, or self-sabotage to be certain they don’t.
In both cases, the above individuals hold an inner belief or attitude about themselves which influences their achievement and success outcomes. Their attitude about themselves has shaped their inner voice. Fixed mindset individuals believe talent alone will shape their destiny and success, and that effort won’t change it.
The growth mindset individual, in contrast, holds an inner attitude that, although they hold some measure of talent, it is through persistent effort, hard work, deep thought, and due diligence that success and achievement will be earned. They view their goals and dreams as possible when effort is consistently expended. If met with an obstacle, they don’t give up mid-way through or make a half-hearted effort. They keep exerting effort. They are full-tilt and leaning in.
Their inner voice and attitude about themselves tells them ‘I can do it’. They see that problems, bumps, challenges, and obstacles will occur, but with talent+effort, they can be overcome and keep on moving forward.
How does a Fixed Mindset versus a Growth Mindset Play Out?
Take for example, Hyacinth, the fourth generation in a family of lawyers. Hyacinth believes she is a natural shoo-in to a top-ranked law school. with only minimal effort. Her internal belief system and fixed mindset informs her that she will succeed because of her natural talent. The problem? Studying to pass the required LSAT exam and earn a high score is hard. Hyacinth did not exert the effort: she studied only occasionally. The result? A low LSAT score blocked her entry into law school. Holding the belief that her talent alone would be enough to succeed propelled her to fail.
Luis, also with a fixed mindset, and a first-generation and DACA student who was granted a full scholarship due to his expressed talent, decided half-way through his university studies that college graduation wasn’t within his reach. He doubted if he would even be able to pass his courses. After all, he came from ‘the wrong sort of family’, ‘people where he came from didn’t succeed’, ‘everyone there failed sooner or later’. After a bumpy first year, Luis stopped trying and stopped exerting effort. The result? Rather than accept the inevitable humiliation he incorrectly foresaw, Luis dropped out in his second year. His internal belief system told him he didn’t have what it takes to graduate, no matter the level of effort he might expend.
In contrast, the journey of Sue plays out differently. Sue has a growth mindset. An Afrikaner living in South Africa, an unwanted child, a smart little girl, Sue was sent off to boarding school by her parents to stay year-round including summers, breaks, and holidays. Sue developed a growth mindset to survive and thrive with the guidance of caring teachers and mentors. She envisioned her dreams and goals beyond the concrete walls which contained her. She pondered what to study in university and decided to work hard and pursue a universal platform in the management of money. She became an accountant and CPA. She joined the world’s leading accounting firm. She became a Partner, then an Executive Vice President. She married happily and accrued wealth. She gave back to her communities and young women in need. She exerted talent+effort to earn success.
So, How Does This Relate to Business?
Running a successful business requires effort. Talent alone won’t cut it.
The potential business owner who believes they will succeed simply because they have talent, and who does not expend consistent, persistent, exerted effort, has a much higher risk of failure. A fixed mindset closes the business’s doors. Not choosing to work hard on building a business plan, setting financial projections, identifying target customers, rigorously managing cash flow, providing excellent customer service, and making timely payments runs a much higher risk of failure.
The business dreamer who wants to open their own small business to create a better life for the future, but then stops short because they believe ‘they will fail like they always do’ and ‘there is no way someone like them could ever succeed’ holds a fixed mindset. With effort and hard work, this same dreamer could and would most likely succeed in business. But their fixed attitude stops them before they even begin to succeed or brings them to a full-stop half-way through the business’s launch and growth process.
As a business owner, the growth mindset entrepreneur may not have the most money in the room or have the biggest, greatest, most dynamic business concept, but they know how to work hard, contribute high-levels of consistent effort, and persist to overcome challenges and obstacles.
The growth mindset individual knows that it is not just talent that will get them to the goal line. They know it is also effort. They hold the internal mindset of talent+effort=success and they believe in themselves.
They are willing to exert. They have learned that although mistakes or oversights or rough spots in business will occur, these can be overcome. The growth mindset business owners do their research, examine the industry, identify their target markets, know their customer segments, manage their expenses, understand their cash flow, and nail their pricing. They believe they will succeed. They tell themselves they will succeed. They work hard and expend great effort to succeed. Then they do.
Why I love this book:
A business owner can view the possibility of a business start-up and its success as completely within their reach and as an opportunity to learn and grow new skills, achieve financial and professional success, and build a better life for themselves, for others, and for their communities. Aspiring business owners with a growth mindset can view achieving their beautiful dream as POSSIBLE. Business owners with a fixed mindset will bail out long before they have exerted effort or tell themselves that their business idea was a smoke-and-mirrors impossibility far beyond their reach, capacity, and competency. Yes, there are bad ideas, good ideas, and better ideas. And effort sorts them out.
Having a Growth Mindset of Learning is What Matters
Having a fixed mindset keeps one imprisoned and stuck. Having a growth mindset opens the doors and the windows and the space to grow into possibility.
Not everyone is given a great or a fair start. Not everyone is provided with what they need along the way. Not everyone travels a smooth road. No one lives error-free, devoid of mistakes or missteps. Everyone ‘fails’ in some way either by choice, circumstance, or catastrophe. But the perception of failure, or the judgment of another as being a failure, is a fixed mindset that prevents us from achieving all that is possible. We can change and be changed by adopting a growth mindset rather than by living with a fixed mindset.
Business owners, if they so choose, can grow beyond the now and thrive into the future. They can work hard, reach out for the help they need, enroll in training programs, obtain free resources, learn more, and apply for financing. The way they think about themselves and the attitudes they hold about themselves are predictors of their future success and achievement. If they add effort to talent, success is achievable.
We believe our clients have a growth mindset. And, a growth mindset is what we offer here at Business Impact NW. It’s our privilege and our pleasure to help you on the journey ahead.
Dweck, Carol. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books: New York, 2006 and 2016. ISBN-978-0-345-47232-8
About the author
Susan Gibson M.A. is a Small Business Coach and Trainer for the Washington Women’s Business Center. Prior to joining Business Impact NW, she served as a senior leader of Organizational Development, Leadership Development, and Human Resources for Nordstrom and Starbucks, ranked as two of the ‘Most Admired Companies to Work For’, and owned a successful consulting business for 20 years serving 350+ small businesses across the U.S. in a variety of industries. Her expertise includes executive coaching for business start-up and formation, strategic planning, ethical business practices, company organizational structures, management and leadership, employee development and motivation, teamwork, customer service and marketing, globalization and international business, franchising, and business growth.