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What powers your growth?

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 ( #984 )
In the lead-up to our 20-year milestone, the Forkliftaction team took a pause to think about where we have come from, and why we are still standing here despite all the ups and downs that those two decades invariably bring. The process of deciding on a slogan for our 20th anniversary milestone was an interesting exercise. It was important to us to express our core mission as a company - what we stand for. A big ask! As a team, we felt that 'powering growth' (through arming members of our community with the knowledge and industry connections to help them grow their business) best summed up our mission. In the midst of all this reflecting, I thought it would be interesting to look at what powers growth on a personal note. I asked a few members of the team about what has powered their careers so far:
Rodger: Wow. I am only 71 and am still learning, so am not really in a position to be giving such advice, but let me start with some developing thoughts I am working on. I was given these three business ideals by my friend, business tycoon Richard Pratt (RIP) of Visy Board recycling fame:
  • Look after your best people
  • Look after your best clients
  • Collect your money
I certainly relate to these ideals, but personally I am working on:
  • Only ever work with quality products, people and purpose
  • Seek challenge. When you find it, remember you can do anything you put your mind to
  • Learn to say "No", but say "Yes Please" 99 times to every time you say No
  • Multiple streams of income are good
  • Make your home your holiday resort
  • It is the journey and the trying that bring happiness
Bottom line is when I die, I do not want anyone to be able to say "he did not try". Melissa: For me, it is who has most powered my professional development, not what. Mentors are the 'power' behind most of my achievements. Mentors are particularly helpful when you're young, when you find yourself working in areas outside your comfort zone, such as being a woman in a male-dominated profession or having a late career change. To have someone beside you who believes in your abilities, even if you can't see them, who is encouraging but honest, who helps you see that failure is part of learning and has a different perspective but your best interests at heart, is incredibly useful to a career. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds. I think the biggest challenge is to find your mentor and believe that you are worthy of mentoring. And we all have the potential to be mentors: the world needs more of them. "One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination." - John C. Maxwell "The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves." - Steven Spielberg Ann: I agree with Melissa that working relationships are an important ingredient for growth. I have always let my innate desire to learn and create propel me into workplaces where people collectively apply skills and ideas towards the creation of something new and exciting. I thrive on the experience of bundled energy, the notion of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. I get off on a lightbulb moment generated by shared ideas. To me, the people who have affected my personal growth most have a passion that drives them and fine-tuned skills honed through hands-on experience. They connect with you over a challenge, listen to the stakes, manage to break complex matters into smaller distinct issues, present useful perceptions and acquired knowledge and challenge your misconceptions and hidden intentions, with the sole intention of contributing to the development of a solution that is bigger and better than first aspired to. These people support personal growth, encourage creativity and empower you to excel. Instead of detailing rigid statements and directions based on past experiences, these people share acquired know-how to add strength and dimension to new strategies. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet, work and grow with many such people.
I suspect that the things that Melissa, Ann and Rodger highlight - learning sparked by relationships with mentors and co-workers, our attitude to challenges and different viewpoints, our ability to keep trying and to adapt when necessary - are all fuelled or are at least made possible by our mindset. I first heard about the idea of 'growth mindset' (a term developed by psychologist Carol Dweck) when my eldest child came home from school talking about it. She had been learning about the benefit of understanding that her skills and intelligence are not fixed entities. She related that she had been taught in class that every time she fails at a new skill, she should tell herself 'I am not able to do this, yet'. She was also taught that it is impossible to know now what she can achieve in the future with time and effort.
Image source: www.nigelholmes.com
Click for larger view
Image source: www.nigelholmes.com Click for larger view
To me this just resonated. It made me think of my own journey at school and my attitude to success. I was always a pretty good student, but I realised that there were a number of 'fixed mindset' habits that I had unwittingly developed and carried into working life. In the past, to me, succeeding at work was tied to working hard to get things right, working carefully to avoid mistakes, getting positive feedback on successes (the adult equivalent of a gold star). But in working to avoid mistakes, one tends to play it safe to avoid a more creative approach when they worry a successful outcome is not guaranteed. These tendencies stifle growth and the invaluable process of learning from our failures. Carol provides some interesting insights on growth vs fixed mindset in an organisational context here. I try now, whenever possible, to be less concerned with outcomes before I reach them and, instead, focus more on what I can learn throughout the journey. I try to have more appreciation for the fact that I am (and we all are) a work in progress and that there is far more value in being open to learning something new than in proving something you already know. I think this quote from Carol Dweck perfectly captures the power of mindset to propel growth, I'll leave you with it: "Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it's not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives." What powers your growth? We'd love to hear it.