The power of “not yet”

I was recently heartened to see that my daughter’s school has started to apply some of the principles of a growth mindset in its daily practices.    Against the backdrop of globalisation and digitisation (to name but a few) our educational systems need to change to help our children face the future and I think the ideas behind a growth mindset holds a number of the solutions.

I appreciated the impact it’s had on my daughter when she recently said that she wasn’t very good “yet” at something.    The small addition of a very powerful three letter word – yet – highlighted the effect it is having on her.  Unusually, she wasn’t particularly bothered about the fact she couldn’t do the task now because she felt if she kept practicing over time she will.   The power of “not yet.”

In her excellent overview of the growth mindset Carol Dweck explains the power of “not yet” as well as a succinct explanation of both a growth and a fixed mindset.     You have two choices either you have a fixed view of the world where talents are set and are finite.    Or alternatively adopt a view where with a healthy dose of persistence, effort and resilience you can learn something over time – the essence of a growth mindset.

Traditionally, schools and organisations have a tendency to create and reinforce a rather binary view of success and failure.  You see it through countless symbols like the use of grades or appraisal scores.   The systems simply reinforce that you either have ‘it’ or you don’t.

But there is another way.   Instead organisations and schools should be looking to follow the same approach to create an environment and culture that supports life-long learning and thereby helping their people adapt to the challenges we face in the future.    It doesn’t have to be that complicated either, just by applying a small three letter word is at least a start in the right direction.

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We all need to get comfortable writing new chapters

The more that is written and spoken about the ‘future of work’, and specifically the impact digitisation is having on our lives, the more I think we need to rethink how we manage our careers and personal brands for what will be a much longer time than previous generations.

Recently, Josh Bersin wrote a brilliant piece on the ‘Future of Work’.   Citing research he makes the point that now (not even in the future) the average baby boomer is likely to change careers on average 11.7 times.    To compound this further it’s reported that millennials are changing jobs every two years.   It’s fairly realistic to assume that during our working lives we need to be able to handle and manage more change than ever before.  Individuals, organisations and society need to adapt to this era of constant change where career moves and changes are the norm.

As individuals – people need to take complete ownership of their careers and brands.  You can’t manage your career on autopilot and expect an external agency (like your company) to manage your own career progression.   We need to reflect on what motivates us, what we’re good at and learn new skills to adapt to changing circumstances.  Personal reinvention will be a fundamental skill that needs to be mastered by individuals as we constantly evolve through multiple changes and moves.   We need to be open to change.   We need to have a growth mindset.

Organisations – need to provide more focus on how they support their people during what is a profound period of change and uncertainty. More emphasis needs to be placed on providing people the time, space and opportunities to facilitate changes in skills and experience to grow.  Talent processes can’t be annual affairs, they need to be managed in the moment and balance both external and internal talent pools with a combination of both horizontal and vertical moves.   A learning climate that helps facilitate life-long learning and empowers people to own their careers needs to be fostered as part of an organisation’s DNA.

Society – in a world of numerous career changes our education systems, at every level, need to provide the support and establish the basic foundations to enable people to benefit from this.   You get the sense that the over-used question in schools of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” will need to be kicked into touch. Instead of focusing on linear career progression our educational systems need to instil the values of persistence and resilience to help people manage change.     Education support needs to be provided at every level of society to enable life-long learning.

I think we need to think about how we create different chapters of experience that will reflect a rich tapestry of your working life (which is likely to be much longer than previous generations).   The art will be on finishing one chapter and then moving onto the next one and being adept at constantly evolving your skills and experience.    To support this both organisations and society need to adapt and support people to what will be a combination of an opportunity, risk and uncertainty.

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