Growth Mindsets and the Power of "Yet"

Why Your Career Growth Depends Entirely on Your Mindset
by Kelly Poulson
November 21, 2016
Interested in learning more about your career mindset? You can book a one-on-one career counseling session with Kelly Poulson, who is one of our mentors. 
That’s not a typo in the title. I didn’t mean the power of “Yes.” “Yet” is equally as powerful a word when you allow it to have a meaningful presence in your life and career growth. 
Think about it. “I don’t know how to deliver an amazing presentation…yet.” “I’m not ready to lead a team of people…yet.” That one little word says a lot about what how capable you believe you are, and your confidence in your abilities impacts everything. If you aren't exactly where you want to be now, you will be soon. Now, how do you get there?

First, let’s learn about mindsets. Specifically, the work of Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck focuses on fixed and growth mindsets. People with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and talent can’t be changed; either you’ve got it or you don’t. They spend most of their lives avoiding challenges, giving up easily, and believing extra effort is pointless. On the flipside, those living with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed. This creates an innate hunger for learning and persistence in the face of challenges. In other words, those with a growth mindset believe in the optimistic promise of “yet.”

Studies have shown that people who operate from a growth mindset learn more and are more successful. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to order the growth mindset, please. Now that you have an understanding, let’s talk about ways to impact your performance in work and better your career planning by using the simple concept of “yet.”

Throw your hat in the ring 

You want a promotion? Say so. And then do the work to prepare yourself. You won’t be great at everything right away, and that’s okay. Chances are, it will take practice. You’ll need to test out many approaches and strategies to figure out what works for you. But it all starts with being willing to put yourself out there and tell people what you’re interested in learning. Being communicative about your goals—even if they seem far off—is a great step to empowering yourself.

Get up after you fall

It’s inevitable. At some point, you’ll try your best and it won’t go the way you planned. So what? In scenarios like that, what matters most is that you get up after you fall. Don’t let one situation prevent you from trying again. Persevere in the face of challenges and you’ll grow no matter what. Learning by trial and error is still a way to learn.
Learning by trial and error is still a way to learn.

Ask for feedback To stimulate career growth

Keep track of how you’re performing. Asking for feedback can be extremely helpful for personal growth, and it’s also a concrete way to demonstrate to your boss or colleagues that you care about your performance. Just make sure you’re prepared to hear critique; if you become combative or defensive, people might not be as willing to give you feedback in the future. Go into those conversations with an open mind. If it turns out your work has some flaws, believe in your ability to improve. That way, it’s fine if you’re not good at color balancing or accumulated depreciation sheet balancing or high beam balancing…yet.

Encourage others

Sometimes, when you’re stuck in a fixed mindset, you’re not as psyched when those around you thrive. It’s tough for you to be excited for them without being critical of yourself. Instead of focusing on what they’ve got and you don’t, celebrate their success. And then, most importantly, ask them how they got there. A little competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it’s used to motivate you rather than drag you (and others) down.

We’re all a mix of fixed and growth mindsets, but educating yourself on the differences is a great first step. Once you start to notice those fixed reactions in yourself, take care to manage and actively will yourself to adopt more positive, growth mindset qualities. What’s on the other side of self-doubt and negativity is more rewarding than most of us realize. Small changes over time can lead to major developments, in work and in life.  
Does competition deter or motivate you? Why?