The Real Tendencies that Lead to Growth and Success


Imagine you are at a job interview. Right before the interviewer offers you a position he states, "Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the details of our project. You will have the opportunity to make mistakes and struggle, but eventually we may do something that we'll remember the rest of our lives." Would you eagerly jump at this project or would you stand up and walk out?

This was the real life scenario created by Scott Forstall, the senior vice president of Apple, who assembled the iPhone development team. He called in a handful of stand-out Apple employees from various departments in the company to speak with him, and only those who quickly leaped at the opportunity were offered positions. Forstall's approach to recruitment was based on the belief that the new project’s success would be dependent on individuals who were more attached to challenging themselves and pushing boundaries than the ego gratification that came from shining where they already were. In a recent New York Times article, such individuals were described as possessing a “growth mind-set.”

This classification was derived from the research of Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” She has carefully studied the ways in which people approach life, and research suggests two main groups: those like the aforementioned Apple employees who believe their own abilities can grow and change, and those who believe that talents and intelligence are intrinsic and unchanging (referred to as a “fixed mind-set”.)

These simple classifications can have a remarkable impact on all aspects of one’s life and likelihood to succeed. In her work, Dweck has found that a growth mind-set almost always trumps a fixed mind-set, due in part to the fact that many with a fixed mind-set are overly invested in the reputation of their talents, resulting in a fear of making mistakes and an attachment to looking smart. Dweck has said that those with a growth mind-set, “are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

Case studies on many top executives from the ranks of General Electric, IBM, Xerox, and others show that a growth mind-set can not only lead to personal successes, but can revolutionize a work-force as well.

Which mind-set do you lead with?


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Daniel Latch says

Great Idea! Next task - provide a resource to help those people continually held down and discarded for having such mind sets. Unfortunately, HR (the bastion of fixed mind setters) call us 'wild ducks' and won't give us a second look unless they have a doomed project needing a sacrifice. Instead, they elevate the ego-centered, coalition seeking, empire building fixed mind setters who see talent as a threat, limit it, and push it out the door at the first opportunity and call it downsizing. Perhaps the graying of America will open some doors but I suspect the status quo will persevere and the coalition of the young will find a fertile field among their own. To borrow from baseball great and philosopher, Yogi Berra, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'd rather be in the brier patch than surrounded by easy to reach carrots: what's the challenge there? Success for us lies not in power, position, and wealth but in hard-won achievement and in the journey of overcoming difficult challenges. Power, position and wealth should not be the carrots for subverting the mission to personal desires but the salve for staying the course and enduring the pain. That is what drove our pioneer ancestors to brave the dangers of travel while the Stay in Placers did just that. A bit idealistic perhaps but ideals are the glue that keep Growth Getters on course while others slide off the path and take up positions to protect their personal fiefdoms.
Posted at 11:05 pm
Marty Fox Mitchell says

Daniel has a great point. It is us the growth setters who are the ones who get the short end of the stick most of the time. That is why corporations like Apple are just eating up the competition, it's because they see the true talent in challenge, the unknown, accomplishing something that has not been done. Most companies out there in Corporate America only talk the talk and don't practice what they preach (which is actually a song I wrote back in the 90's) For me as a wildflower, a self challenger, it's hard for me to get a job because so many people are scared that if I do make a mistake it could cost them money and more importantly, face. To Daniel, Scott Forstal, and all the other adventure type's out there. I am with you...And if you have a job opening...I'll be with you too.
Posted at 1:34 pm
chris says

Marty and Daniel, don't listen to the people that say you can't. In addition, don't do things the way "normal people" do them. After venturing into a new industry where I have read and been told you can not take a layman (myself included) off the street and get them to sell. I say hell with statistics. A passion, a little desire, time to overcome the learning curve(hint this is critical), and hard work will allow you to achieve, even in these hard times. Don't listen to the stat's unless you really want to be an AJ. (Average Joe for you non athletes) Best of luck but break out of the norm. and don't deal with the HR department. Their job is to fill another job, not to make the decision.
Posted at 2:16 am

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