Are your talents just something you’re born with, or can you develop them? And how does your answer to this question affect how you meet the challenges of life?
Carol Dweck has made these questions the focus of her research for decades. The Stanford University professor of psychology explains her work in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
For a quick introduction to the ideas in Mindset, check out Dweck’s TED talk, The Power of Believing that You Can Improve. In short, she argues that people limit themselves when they think of their abilities as set in stone or inherited at birth—what Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” A “growth mindset,” or thinking of our skills and talents as something to build over time, is a better path to success.
Taking time to learn
To encourage a growth mindset, we ask our team members to devote a small part of each working day to learning. This can be as simple as playing an audiobook or watching an educational video on AdaptiveU, the digital learning platform we developed ourselves.
Our teams have taken to learning time with enthusiasm. And why not? They’re getting the chance to learn and grow, on the clock.
We asked Manni, one of our virtual receptionist team leads, and Amanda, from our recruiting team, to share some of their thoughts on learning.
Manni leads her team of virtual receptionists from her home office in El Paso, Texas. She’s one of our many team members participating in our learning program. We believe a growth mindset is essential for long-term success. Taking a little time out of each workday to learn helps us maintain that outlook.
For Manni, learning has become a part of her life—and not just at work. And her four children, ages 18, 14, 11, and 2, have grown up with it. By now, they know when Manni is busy reading or watching educational videos. “They understand Mommy’s learning,” she says.
Staying in sync
In fact, learning has become a family activity. She would listen to audiobooks in the car with her daughter on the way to swimming lessons. Her son listened to books with her, too, and took it pretty seriously. “He would get kind of mad if I was one chapter ahead of him,” she says.
More recently, Manni and her daughter have been absorbed in podcasts about Agile working, especially through the Scrum approach. “I wouldn’t say she has a clear understanding with agile,” Manni says of her daughter, “but she’s getting familiar. I’m sure she could also host a Crucial Conversation now.”
Manni isn’t the only one in her family who does her work online, with an Anywhere model. Her 11-year-old daughter attends a distributed school that serves students all over Texas, and even has similar programs in other states. It just shows once again that location often doesn’t matter when you have the techniques and technology to connect online!
The school sent Manni’s daughter all the textbooks and other resources she’d need. “She has her lesson plan when she logs in,” Manni says. “She really has to follow instructions in order to complete her assignments. She really has to pay attention.”
The virtual school means Manni and her daughter actually have somewhat similar setups. “She understands how to join a remote virtual meeting, just like we do,” Manni says. “Funny enough, she has a headset just like we do, too.”
Manni credits her daughter’s experience at the online school with helping her own learning time blend seamlessly into the family’s life. “Learning ties in very well,” Manni says, “because she’s already used to it. It’s pretty normal to her to be learning all the time.”
Listening to learn
Amanda works from her home office in Texas as part of our recruiting team. She admits that adding learning time to her workday took a little getting used to. “It wasn’t something that I loved immediately,” she says of the audio books she downloaded. “But as soon as I started listening and getting into the stories, it started to become a part of my everyday.”
Before long, Amanda had her own Audible subscription, and now gets at least one book a month. She watches for special deals to stock up, and listens to the books while doing routine tasks like the dishes. Today, she has quite a collection! “I never thought I would have 77 books that I’ve actually gone through and listened to and learned from,” she says.
The FULL mindset
The learning, she says, “helped me realize a lot of things about myself.” Mindset, by Carol Dweck, is a particular favorite. The book outlines the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth one. When people have a fixed mindset, Dweck writes, they tend to see their talent and intelligence as static. Adopting a growth mindset means a shift to seeing these qualities as dynamic, and something we can develop over time.
“That one really stuck with me,” Amanda says. “I realized there was some part of me that was a fixed mindset. With FULL, I’ve developed more of a growth mindset.”
How people think
Besides Mindset, Amanda says she’s also enjoyed watching educational videos about Albert Einstein, as well as the books The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, and Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John Ratey. “I like the psychology behind things,” she says. “I like to know how people think.”
And no discussion of Amanda’s favorites would be complete without mentioning Simon Sinek, whose mantra “Start With Why” has helped all of us at FULL as we pursue our mission to change how the world works. “I have a crush on him,” she says—showing that great ideas are not just interesting, but attractive as well!
Working from home gives Amanda and the rest of our teams more time to add some learning to their day. She can grab her headphones and listen to a book while walking her dog at lunch. “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” she says. “I don’t want to work in an office anymore. I look forward to learning every day. Once you stop learning, you stop growing. Being older doesn’t matter. You grow forever—at least you want to. I do.”
What’s your mindset?
Now let’s hear from you. How do you maintain a growth mindset at work or in general? What have you learned in the past year that you’re taking with you into the future?
Head over to our Facebook page and let us know!
Photo of the night sky over Texas’ Big Bend National Park by Jesse Sewell on Unsplash