“A friend is one to whom you can pour out the contents of
your heart, chaff and grain alike, knowing that the gentlest of
hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and
with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
Courtesy of Guy Kawasaki, The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardeded Guide for Anyone Starting Anything (entrepreneur’s business-book)
I read education researcher Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset over the break and the message is intriguing – our mindsets are self-fulfilling prophecies. If I have a “growth mindset”, I believe that I have the capacity to learn and grow and develop, so I will look for every opportunity to do so. If, on the other hand I have a “fixed mindset”, I believe that I have a fixed amount of intelligence, social skills, street smarts, influence. “I’ve either got it or I haven’t”, so I will give up on new skills if I don’t learn them quickly and easily.
This solves a riddle I have noticed in my workshops, where those who are good at something, often want to learn more, while those who aren’t skilled often spend much of their time telling me how they can’t change and how what I am explaining won’t work for them, or it didn’t work the first time they tried it. This has been a tragedy because what I (Sharon) am very good at is breaking down managerial and social skills into their components so that they can be learned and applied and equally Paul is great at explaining how people can organise their electronic workspaces with practical examples that can be applied immediately.
Now it makes sense, if clients have a fixed mindset and have decided they are not good at the skillset, then the conversation in their head will constantly revert back to “what’s the point trying to learn something that I’m not good at because if I was good at it I would be able to do it already?” In fact this little phrase “what’s the point?” is my hint that I am dealing with someone who has a fixed mindset.
Dweck’s book is aimed mostly at teachers and parents and it spreads the good news that we can grow fixed mindsets into growth mindsets. A number of researchers, including Australian Robert Wood and Americans Peter Heslin and colleagues have taken her theories and applied them to management and particularly to performance management and appraisals.
Next week we will discuss how you can grow a mindset in yourself and others. In the meantime, make a list of at least 10 things you have learned to do well and put an asterisk beside any of the items where you remember a time when you had no skill in that area and it was frustrating (compared to other things on the list you learned easily and quickly).
According to author Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneurs don’t ask themselves “Do I want to make money and gain power and prestige?”, rather they ask “Do I want to make meaning?”, or typically “do I want to make a positive difference in this world?”
Kawasaki credits meaning with being the most powerful motivator in the world and I agree. It won’t guarantee success, but it will keep you going long after the money has dried up.
I came across a reference to the original definition of an “indian giver” in the 25th anniversary edition of the book The Gift, by Lewis Hyde. The American Indians gave gifts with the expectation that the gift would be returned or passed on, or an equivalent gift given in return. Rather than describe this as a negative, Hyde explores the impact of gift giving and how gifts differ from capital. According to Hyde, the essential rule of the gift is that “one man’s gift must not be another man’s capital” – use it or pass it on.
Hyde also explores the role of gifts in building social capital through building relationships and also through the sharing of ideas. You know the saying: “If I have two dollars and I give you one, I am poorer, but if I have two ideas and give you one, I still have my two ideas”. However, in the days of intellectual property laws, if I give you one of my ideas I may expect a fee in return for your use. In this instance I am not gifting my ideas to you but rather renting them out. I notice that I have long been a gifter when it comes to ideas, but over the past few years I have stopped giving physical presents – because I believed everyone has too much stuff. More recently I have been tempted to gift things from fair trade shops etc. and Hyde’s arguments have helped me reconcile the competing urges.
In addition, I love the “pay if forward” concept and Jono Fisher’s wonderful ambition to start a Kindness Revolution here in Sydney. Check out the website: WakeUpSydney and order your Kindness cards. I got my pack of Kindness cards and sat with them for three weeks before I realised that the aim is to pass them on as quickly as possible. What fun it’s been.
PS If you want to forward on stuff you no longer want, log on to ReUseIt (formerly Freecycle) and find a group near you.
PPS thanks to Sascha Molitoritz from the Sydney Morning Herald, whose gift of his article alerted me to Hyde’s book.