Gary Watts

The importance of a growth mindset

Even kids are noticing it

Adoption of technology in the U.S., 1900 to present, BLACKROCK

My seven-year old daughter is good on her bike. My son, four years old, not yet so good — he’s learning fast, but swinging from brave and proud, to reluctant and indignant.

On a bike trip the other day around the area we live, with the sun shining, it was time to develop those skills. We set off, and my son proceeded to fall off four times in the first five minutes. As might be expected, his patience was thinning a little, and with his four year old arms on his hips, he gave the three of us both barrels.

You need to have a growth mindset

My seven year old daughter said.

I laughed, and my son was stunned into silence. She didn’t get that turn of phrase from me or my wife, must be the school.

So why do we all need a growth mindset?

Original source unknown, copied from Whickham Parochial School’s article

The world is changing quickly and the pace of change is accelerating. You can’t keep up. But you have to, because it makes you feel alive, keeps you relevant, and is exhilarating. Who wants to get left behind, how interesting the changing world is — what will it be like tomorrow. The great news is, you can get involved, and help shape tomorrow.

Like many I would occasionally attend courses in the past, maybe one or two a year, and in the old days I used to reach the level where I thought I had it covered: I knew ITIL, I knew outsourcing, I knew supportability, I knew system integration, I knew business change approaches, there wasn’t much more to learn — so I was comfortable, job done.

It’s been a while since I was comfortable, and I think many are the same. The pace of change is accelerating. Disruption S-curves are sharper and steeper than ever, and coming thicker and faster. It took decades before the Black and White telly was toppled by the Colour, or before Digital cameras toppled Kodak (who perversely invented the thing), but these days, disruption happens in single-digit years, if not months. See the graphic at the top of this article used by Tony Seba in his essential Clean Disruption — Energy & Transport video, and referenced in the article the Things I’ve Learned from Tony Seba by Gua Tabidze.

As you can see, the lines are getting sharper, they’re almost vertical. Non agile businesses, organisations and people, be afraid.

Organisations in the world, private, public, whatever their line of business, are increasingly recognising they need to be a software organisation in their field to be successful, and the great differentiator is agility and time to market — we need to go faster, we need to accelerate. Courtney Kissler, Vice President of Nike Digital Platform Engineering, said “one of my “a ha” moments was the shift to optimizing for speed… up until that point, our IT organization was optimized for cost”.

Technology is changing. Ways of working are changing. Automation and machine learning is upon us. Innovation is everywhere. Podcasts proliferate. Books upon books. LinkedIn went from a boring “I work here” tool, to a powerful network multiplier and source of insight or provocative thinking every day.

What is increasing in the world is complexity and pace. There has always been the adoption S curve, but now it’s getting steeper.

The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.

Robert Greene, Mastery

Photo by Matt Heaton on Unsplash

“Successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.” Zdravko Cvijetic writes.

You need to have a growth mindset. Increasingly, it’s not an option to “stick with what you know”, be closed minded or have a fixed mindset. You need to think, “challenges help me to grow”, be inspired by the success of others, and have an open, and growth mindset. Continual learning is one of the few constants.

The sun was still shining, and my son got back on his bike. He wasn’t having his sister coming out with smart alec comments about growth mindset and then pedalling off into the sun. He was four, he was assertive, he had a growth mindset, and he would pedal, faster. Besides, it was essential to get home first, as that’s where the chocolate is.

Nettles photo by Paul M on Unsplash

He started well, pedalling, balancing. Focus, discipline, resilience, perseverance. Inspecting and adapting as he went. Taking in all the information and synthesising it into his new world view and confidence. He would do this. Then he fell off sideways into a massive pile of nettles. The pain.

The point is, you’ve got to keep trying, you’ve got to keep learning. A blow can be a blessing. The bad patches are the ones you learn the most from. No one really learns when everything is going fine.

So get that podcast app installed (I’ve found Pocket Casts is the best), subscribe to Medium (an ad-free story source that provides a platform for independent writing — everyone has a story to tell), subscribe to Audible (if you’re in any way involved in software you should read Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations), get the physical books too, go to conferences, connect with people, learn from others, share ideas, and avoid those nettles, but if you get stung, get back up again. The world is changing fast, you need a growth mindset, and you need to get involved.

And to find your purpose, maybe you need to find your Ikigai — see Thomas Oppong’s article on The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life — worth reading, if for no other reason than how many other articles feature a four circle Venn diagram?

Gary Watts

Photo by Eric Kane on Unsplash

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