According to Dr. Dweck, a growth-mindset never rest on their laurels as the best, but keeps making an effort to learn and to become even better. This is exactly what Michael Jordan did. He was always willing to work harder than anyone else, even at the height of his career. Former Bulls assistant coach John Bach called him, “A genius who constantly wants to upgrade his genius.”
In addition, Dr. Dweck shares that a growth-mindset teacher or coach doesn’t judge, but in contrast, gives equal treatment to each youth. This is exactly what Coach John Wooden did at UCLA as he equally expected each and every player to get a little bit better every day while equal concern, compassion, and consideration for each and every one of his players were always priorities of the highest order for him. Concern for his players were even more important than winning. And as you probably already know, Coach John Wooden won a lot!
A growth-mindset doesn’t make excuses, even when they have good excuses. One of Coach John Wooden’s star basketball players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, could have made lots of excuses when basketball outlawed his signature shot, the dunk. Instead, he went right to work on his other shots; perfecting them. His skyhook shot became unstoppable and carried him, his teammates, and future teams/organizations to many, many victories over the years. His growth-mindset coach did a great job teaching him a growth-mindset and countless people benefitted from it.
Similar to Coach Wooden, Thomas Edison was a growth-mindset type of person who also helped others become growth-mindset. Not only did he model and live a growth-mindset, but he also mentored the previously mentioned Henry Ford and laid the way at General Electric for future CEO, Jack Welch.
Thomas Edison was once asked by a reporter what it felt like to have failed 10,000 times to create a light bulb. A fixed-mindset would have seen each one of these attempts as horrible failures and would never have been able to persevere long enough to create a better light bulb. Thomas Edison, however, didn’t look at life like this. His growth-mindset framed that constant internal conversation going on in his head of: What is happening? What does it mean? What should I do about it? Edison knew exactly what to do. He smiled at that reporter and said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison knew that with each way that wouldn’t work, he was one step closer to finding the way that would work.
Jack Welch was the most widely admired, studied, and imitated CEO of his time. And one of the things that made him great was that he surrounded himself with great people that he had selected through mindset rather than pedigree.
Welch was growth-mindset all the way through. He was constantly learning. And when he needed to know more he went directly to his front-line employees to figure out what was going on. He respected these people, and learned from them. It was always “we” not “I” with Jack Welch while he ran General Electric.
General Electric was always about growth, not self-importance under Welch. He shut down elitism. Got rid of brutal bosses. Always asked his people at all levels what they liked and didn’t like about the company. His approved way to being more productive was through mentoring, not through terror. Leaders were encouraged to share credit for their ideas and successes with their teams. In the end, Welch as well as thousands of others, benefited immensely from his growth-mindset.
Finally, there is Winston Churchill. Being a leader is stressful, especially during wartime. And as mentioned earlier, fixed-mindsets tend to eliminate their competition and silence the critics so they get only good news from their subordinates and thus continue look good, whether it’s true or not. This type of silence that only allows one voice, and sometimes even only one way of thinking comes from a dangerous phenomenon called groupthink according to Dr. Dweck. Fortunately for England, Churchill was a growth-mindset type of person that combatted groupthink by setting up a special department. The job of this department was to give Churchill all the worse news. This helped keep Churchill out of a false sense of security and forced him and his team to keep learning and searching for better ways to beat Hitler.
Next month’s article will explain how to be a growth-mindset type of person…
Daniel Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker, and educator!