There is a saying that only 1% of what you live is, in fact, a fact – that it is fixed and cannot be changed. The rest is your perception and your reaction to that, which you have control over and can configure.That said:
How do you react to your professional environment? When things go right, when things go wrong, when they don’t move or when everything changes too fast?
More than reacting: how do you act? Taking charge of your career and professional or personal situation and actively participating in your path towards success? And when do you make mistakes?
Cover Story for Você S/A
I was honored to participate in the cover story of Você S/A (one of the most prestigious Brazilian business magazines) in March 2017, whose title is precisely an adaptation of this post: “Mindset: Programmed for Success.”
The article, very well written by reporters Bárbara Nór and Gabriel Ferreira, is based on the book Mindset – The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck, an American psychologist, and professor at Stanford University.
I told the story of when I made a considerable mistake and lost a big project and client while still undertaking with KOPA Comunicação e Esporte Universitário.Net. However, while still feeling the blow, I managed to see fundamental learning to continue pivoting my Communication career to Marketing: I needed to guide my actions by business metrics and results.
(Parenthesis: entrepreneurship is one of the opportunities where you’re greatly exposed to error, success, and learning – in the most stressful way possible!)
Learning from mistakes – both yours and from others, is one of the fundamental skills highlighted in the growth mindset, as well as:
- Embracing challenges
- Persist in difficult environments
- See effort as a path to excellence
- Learning from criticism
- Finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others
Both the book, the report, and this post propose is precisely a change in the way of thinking personally and professionally. Even a little outside the concept proposed by Carol Dweck and well exposed in the report (seriously, read both!), I can try to help.
Mindset means a "configuration of the mind."
It sounds easy. It’s not that difficult. The main change is internal – just in the way you perceive how your mind works.
There is no right way to do this between us: you can use the most varied physical and psychological techniques, from meditation to neurolinguistic programming, from conversations with mentors to solitary reflections, to find the way that best suits your way of life. Think and perceive.
Like almost everything in life, we start with planning.
If there’s one thing that shouldn’t be, it’s “New Year’s resolution.”
You will not magically achieve a goal without a plan. That is hoping for a lottery ticket.
Without at least an idea of what process and what steps to follow to reach a goal, fulfill an objective, achieve a result. It may be to take a new career to lose weight, or change the country you live, or arrange a side project.
I follow a replicable standard for all spheres.
- What do you want? Where do you want to get? (Objective / Challenge)
- Why? (Motivation)
- How do you think you will get there? (Possible paths)
- What are the main steps? (Phases)
- What barriers and difficulties do I face? (Obstacles)
- How will you know if it worked? (Goal / Metrics)
- What do you already have as competences? (Resources)
- What do you need to learn and improve? (Improvements)
- What can go wrong? (Damage control)
- What other means do you have? (Alternatives)
These questions are just guides for structuring logical reasoning around something.
You will not necessarily have a detailed plan (quite the opposite) or an exact answer for everything (sometimes it is just a “smell”), but it is always worth going through this sabbatical to see if the pieces fit together.
With this thought structure, you can also prioritize goals and opportunities.
But there’s an alert here: Planning feels good. Your brain is flooded with a wave of serotonin when you see everything working out. But then…
Here comes the error.
Unlike that wonder you built in your head, things go wrong.
You don’t hit your goal. You lose that job vacancy, you miss right in the middle of the presentation, you lose that client, you get a stomach ache at the meeting, I don’t know.
Something you wanted and planned for so much doesn’t happen, whether for a controllable or non-controllable reason. And that little card castle of yours just falls. Well, you better pick up the deck again. Rethink. Take the blow and see the next step.
Here is where a lot of people make mistakes. Again.
After taking this “punch” that many people begin to blame others or some external factor, or sweep the dirt under the rug, or ignore what happened, or fall so badly and become so shaken that they will never get up again.
But in fact, this is where you need to stop and look at the problem head-on. See why it happened and what you could have done to avoid or get around that situation. Recalculate the route from that fact and move on.
It is essential to isolate what went wrong and take a calm look at its reasons. Separate the failure of the agent (the person in charge) until the details of each point that can generate an apprenticeship are analyzed.
Submit the error to some simple questions. The 5 Why / Root Cause method is excellent for that), such as “what actually happened,” “what impact did it have on the current scenario”, “how could it have been avoided” and especially “what can I learn from this and do differently”.
Learn from the mistake.
Of course, it is uncomfortable. Of course, it’s frustrating. Of course, not reaching a goal brings a awful feeling. Worse, it is terrible to have to “autopsy” a failure – and often arrive at a root cause that blames your work directly.
But from the moment you can learn from this mistake to improve, it starts to be reassembled. Knowing why something didn’t work gives you unmatched relief – because it’s the first step in trying to get it right again.
When you see an error as learning, you can evolve much faster.
We can correlate this mental model with a thousand things. The Build-Measure-Learn cycle itself brings lessons in this format, as does the Lean Startup methodology, or that of Agile Marketing, or that of Growth Hacking, or Psychology.
You will be grateful when you start looking at goals, plans, and mistakes differently – and learn from each one. It is a change of mindset.
Important: I am not on top of an Olympus, where I am fully aware of all my actions and am an enlightened and unattainable being. Quite the contrary: it is a daily struggle!
I am on the same battlefield as all of us mortals, with good days and bad days, good and bad decisions, Objectives, plans, processes, successes, mistakes.
And a lot of learning. And growth.