It’s not that you can’t do it. You just can’t do it yet...

01 September 2016, at 1:00am

Paul Green suggests that taking a Growth Mindset approach to tasks not yet conquered is the path to enlightenment and productivity.

SO WE ALL HAVE THINGS THAT WE ARE NATURALLY JUST GOOD AT. Maybe for you it’s clinical work. For me I have two distinctive abilities I’ve discovered so far. I am good enough at business to generate robust profits, and have started to build up a good long-term asset base. And I am very good at marketing. I say this not to boast. I am simply aware of my super powers.

Here’s something I’m not good at: DIY. I’d love to be better at it. I remember as a child following my wonderful granddad around the house, assisting him with the various jobs that had to be done. I adored that. Because I didn’t actually have the responsibility for getting the job done.

Today, aged 41, I’m at a point where my heart sinks if a DIY job needs to be done and I can’t just hire someone in to do it. It’s usually the small jobs that my wife insists “will only take 10 minutes” on a Sunday afternoon. Her 10 minutes turns into 30 to 60 minutes of swearing for me. And usually some kind of hand injury as well.

A few months ago, I was trying to free a large rusted screw in the garden parasol. It’s one of those big things that extends and hangs over the table. But a part had rusted up over winter. I’d sprayed it with WD-40 and was  attacking it with a big screwdriver. I’d already stabbed my finger. And I was getting angry with it.

I threw the screwdriver down and swore. “I can’t do it,” I exclaimed in anger. At which point my five-year-old Tilda came up to me, patted me on the arm and said, “No daddy, you can’t do it yet. You just need to try harder.”

Bless her. She was right of course. I did get it done eventually, much to my wife’s amusement. Tilda has been trained to think this way by her school. For all of the criticisms I have of the current education system, I am a big fan of the mindset that some schools are trying to establish in their children.

I’ve been a business owner for 11 years. I made a conscious decision that I want to raise Tilda to have an entrepreneur’s mindset, not an employee mindset. I have no intention of giving her pocket money or letting her do “jobs” to earn cash in the future. I shall be encouraging her to start a small business to make money.

Last year her school made a decision to become a Growth Mindset school. They brought in a system whereby the kids are encouraged to think and behave in a certain way.

What is a Growth Mindset? It’s the belief that intelligence and talent can go up or down; versus a Fixed Mindset, where you believe that intelligence and talent are fixed at birth.

The kids are taught to push themselves, to find stuff they are good at, and push themselves further (Tilda at five has pushed herself to the reading age of a seven-year-old).

The things they are not good at, they say things like, “I’m going to train my brain to do this.” You’ll never hear a child at that school saying, “I’m just not good at that.” Instead they’ll tell their teacher, “I need some extra help on this please, and some time to improve.” It’s stunning to see it in action!

I thought I had the Growth Mindset. It took the Screwdriver Incident to realise that a Growth Mindset isn’t just about business and work. It’s about how you act in every area of your life. Especially the stuff you’re not naturally good at.

You can develop and nurture a Growth Mindset. So can any of your staff. It’s a powerful attitude because it gives you the ability to grow your skillset to do literally anything. At any point of your life.

It’s about removing the self-limiting beliefs, about changing the way you think and how that is reflected in your external language and internal thinking. What kind of a message does it send to your brain when you replace sentences such as “I’m either good at it or I’m not” and “when I’m frustrated I give up” with “I can learn to do anything I want” and “my effort and attitude determine my abilities”?

You can see why I’m excited that they’re teaching my daughter to think this way. That primary school is literally setting her up for a lifetime of achievement.

There are five ways to improve your Growth Mindset, and by investing into 121 coaching, to improve your staff’s Growth Mindset too:

  1. Believe that you can achieve absolutely anything you want.
  2. Change the internal language you use.
  3. Take ownership over your attitude.
  4. Value your effort over your talent.
  5. Be a 2% thinker (just 2% of the population operate outside of their comfort zone on a regular basis... those are the people who live big lives and achieve everything they want).

You can learn more about Growth Mindset in a book called Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. Changing your thinking in this way can open up growth opportunities in your practice that aren’t available to you... yet