The future of work was always predicted to bring about dramatic shifts in working patterns such as automation or the adoption of ‘gigs’ but the advent of the new normal has accelerated these trends. As a working professional, you are likely to have significant concerns about how to improve and grow in your career while dealing with these changes.
This leads us to know more about the different types of mindsets and innovation.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck has posed an intriguing question – What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?
Drawing from her research conducted over two decades, she has proposed that personality, intelligence and character can be transformed over time by changing your mindset. She has lucidly explained the difference between fixed and growth mindsets.
Those with fixed mindsets believe that our talents and abilities are static. They cannot get better over time with persistence and effort. Such individuals would be prepared to give up easily and would attribute their failures to their inherent abilities. They would be convinced that they cannot improve.
But those with growth mindsets believe that our talents and abilities can be developed over time. This mindset can not only enable you to develop your intelligence and creativity but also enhance your relational skills such as love and friendship. Such individuals would be keen to learn, learn from failures, overcome obstacles through persistence, learn from criticism and get inspired by the success stories of others.
Although innovation is often used, it is important to understand how we can make it part of our lives. As an innovative individual, you must be open to different perspectives. You may not agree with these perspectives but you should treat them as independent outlooks rather than being judgemental. You may even want to try some of these perspectives and implement them in your actions.
You can leverage changes in mindset and adopt innovation to significantly alter your career trajectory and emerge victorious.
Here are ways in which innovation and mindset change can help you ace your professional life:
Mastering new skills
It is widely believed that skills and not degrees will shape the future of work. The new normal has driven organisations to reshape their hiring practices. The World Economic Forum has predicted that almost one billion jobs worldwide would be transformed by technology by 2030. This means one billion individuals would have to master new skills to stay relevant. For example, no-code platforms are emerging which can be used to create websites or software products. Thus, software developers or coders who aren’t upskilling might lose out. Hence, a software developer may wish to add product management skills to her repertoire so that she can stay relevant in the future. You could explore a plethora of options such as – learning a new technology or learning a new language or learning designing skills etc.
For instance, you would have taken a sabbatical after giving birth to your child. Earlier you may have been a software developer but during this sabbatical, you would have picked up German. During the new normal as firms across the world are looking to hire employees who can work remotely, you may come across an application put up by a German company that requires a software developer (who should have all the experience and skills that you do) along with knowledge of basic German. Thus the new skill that you picked up could offer a fillip to your career.
Pro tip: Aim to pick up at least a couple of professional skills which are within the area of you interest and keep honing them.
Thriving under stress
As a working professional or a business owner, you would have come across several stressful scenarios. For instance, your boss would want a new project to be delivered within a deadline.
If you are stressed about the project or the impending deadline, you are likely to do a shoddy job which could affect your credibility.
Multiple studies conducted across different geographies have revealed that workplace stress has been on the rise. According to a survey conducted by a leading executive search firm, overall stress levels have increased by 20% over the previous three decades..
However, by changing your mindset, you can thrive under stress. According to The Upside of Stress written by Dr Kelly McGonical, your body would literally release different chemicals depending on how you think about dealing with stress. This can ultimately impact your decisions and actions. You must have noticed how certain sportspersons thrive under pressure. This is because they have developed their mindsets to a positive relationship with stress.
Pro tip: It is easy to procrastinate if you are under stress. Get started as early as you can.
Being a life long learner
There is a huge misconception that learning ends when you are done with college. To grow in your professional career, it is vital to keep learning. By adopting a growth mindset, you can aspire to be continuously curious and hence keep learning. Incidentally, the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci (the renaissance man) can be attributed to his defining trait – being curious. Da Vinci would satiate his curiosity by conducting in-depth studies about anatomy, engineering, painting, physics, weaponry, architecture and more. There need not be any upper age limit on learning.
For example, you might be in your early 40s and be an accomplished sales person. Hence, you might assume that there is nothing more to learn in your area of work. However, if you attend suitable sales training sessions, you would realise that there is much to learn and improve upon in order to hone your skills. By upskilling yourself regularly, you could become an efficient sales person who consistently over achieves her targets.
Pro tip: Learn at your own pace. You can practice the Feynman Learning Technique everytime you learn something new.
After spending six months to a year in a job, you are likely to know what needs to be done and are equipped to manage your relationships with colleagues. You would be comfortable with your existing situation and may find yourself resisting any change.
Some examples include:
- Being offered a new role within the team
- Reviewing existing business workflows or processes
- Unwilling to move out of the city
By getting comfortable, you are likely to be stagnant in your career or reach a ceiling beyond which you aren’t able to progress. For instance, your salary would increase substantially if you keep moving from one company to another after spending adequate time in each company as compared to remaining in the same organisation. Hence, rather than resisting changes, you may wish to embrace them.
Pro tip: While embracing change, be cognizant about whether it could have any impact on your loved ones.
Seeking out challenges
To progress in your career it is essential to take up projects or assignments which are perceived as challenging and are avoided by others. This can not only get you visibility as someone who likes to take initiative but also offer you the chance to learn new skills. And if you find success in overcoming excruciatingly difficult projects, it would certainly enable you to progress rapidly in your career path.
By developing a growth mindset, you would be able to spot opportunities in challenging situations. You would be able to build your credentials as someone who is confident of taking on challenging projects which may lead to bigger career opportunities
Pro tip: Before accepting challenges, be prepared and do your homework.
Learn rather than fail
Due to conventional upbringing and education systems, we are conditioned to fear and abhor failure. Although failure can be a great motivator, it is easy to feel despondent after failing. And once we fail, most of us end up taking important professional decisions which would help us avoid failure.
A mindset change can enable you to look at failures as learning opportunities. As long as you have done your best and failed, it shouldn’t matter. But it would be important to review your efforts and understand what could have been done differently. Such learnings would be invaluable.
For example – Imagine that you are the product manager in a company and are planning to introduce a new feature in your product. You might have great conviction in it but your colleagues might disagree. However, you veto their opinion and decide to launch that feature. Unfortunately, this feature is disliked by clients and you end up getting brickbats for this move. Later on, when you review your decisions you realise that you could have enabled the feature for a small sample of your customers and taken their feedback. This would have enabled you to decide whether you should have launched the feature for all customers or not.
Pro tip: List down your failure and avoid repeating the same failure
Enables you to ask feedback
Feedback is essential for personal and professional growth. It enables you to understand how your actions and you are being perceived by others. Unfortunately, many of us often let our ego cloud our minds and are unwilling to listen to constructive feedback. A mindset change could make you proactively seek feedback from the right stakeholders and bring in drastic improvements.
Pro tip: Collect feedback from those who can offer it without any bias. Keep working on your performance and check with them again after a few months to measure your improvements.
Adopting innovation and mindset change is a journey with several lows and highs. However, it is important to not get frustrated and instead carry on diligently. Once you start observing results, you would be inspired to make this a way of life while attaining work life balance.