I found myself with a bit of free time on Sunday, no kids, dogs were sleeping, husband was at the gym so I took advantage of it and wrote the most glorious blog post about Enders Game (by Orson Scott Card) and how its really an example of Growth Mindset (introduced by Carol Dweck). I had seen articles about Enders Game as a leadership primer but couldn’t find anything that related it to growth mindset. I researched, wrote and finally… hit send to have my “editor” (Jim Fellows) take a look. Then I happily shut down my computer, picked up my book and went about my Sunday night.
This morning, I went into my emails thinking I’d make a few edits to the blog before I got Jim’s feedback and post it. And….I cant find it. Anywhere. Its not in my sent, my outbox, my drafts. No where. Nada. Missing in Action. URGH!!!
I spent a good 1/2 day ruminating about all that lost work. So frustrating!!
Although, if I am honest with myself, it wasn’t my best work. It was a little dry and probably too academic. Plus, who could actually relate to Enders Game outside of kids, gamers and math geeks? It’s probably a blessing in disguise that it was lost in cyber space.
I’m sure we’ve all encountered this …. we’ve worked hard on something, something we believe in, something we think will resonate with others and … it goes no where. Either people don’t appreciate the intent or you miss the mark with your message or the timing simply isn’t right.
Once I was done beating myself help, I thought… wow, this is a really good lesson in Growth Mindset. How can I learn from this situation? How can I turn it into a positive vs a negative? How can I leverage my point in a different way?
Then it hit me. What do I surround myself with – every day? Am I living my values of learning and leading? What reminders and habits do I have in place? Is my “space” a place of growth mindset?
So I took a photo of my desk – today. Let’s break it down…
~ Tissue – prior to my life in nonprofit, this would not have been on my desk. If I had the need for tissues due to a team member becoming emotional, the best I could do was offer a scratchy paper towel from the restroom. I’ve learned, in this job, that emotion and connection comes with being engaged and committed. And, yes, that means occasional tears. I’m a bit surprised but growth mindset doesn’t really talk about emotional connection so, I think this is a neutral point.
~ Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall – this book was just released 4/1 and I’m enthralled. I’ve been watching their preview videos and it really challenges all our standard HR practices, taking leading with your strengths to a new level. I have no idea how to incorporate many of their ideas but they have me thinking, which is always good. Its a challenging read, not because its academic or dry, but because it challenges norms, 1 point for growth mindset!
~ A poop emoji stress ball – On our last leadership retreat, one of the Sr Directors texted everyone this emoji and said – “let’s go get chocolate ice cream!” She thought it was a chocolate ice cream emoji. It was a poop emoji. We all just about died of laughter and its now a running joke between us, bringing us closer and giving us some levity when things get tough. Its also an example of finding inspiration and learning through others. Another point for growth mindset!
~ A sticker that says “I put my phone away!” – This year I had 360 degree feedback on my performance for my 1st 18 months in role. One bit was – I need to be more present and be less attached to my phone and email. This is NOT new feedback. I have been getting this feedback, in one form or another, on almost every 360 I have been involved in. Its hard for me. Really hard. But, I need to own it and work on it. The sticker is my reminder. (as a side note, Ashley and Marcus are NOT fans of 360’s or feedback – and they have some good points but in this case – it is something I need to work on….). This squarely falls in the growth mindset realm of learning from criticism. 1 point.
~ 2 stickies that say “Use your story to work FOR you” and “each week ask – what are you working on and how can I help?” – these are also reminders for me to connect with my team, be authentic, find ways to help and look for the positive in every situation. The 2 questions are directly from Marcus’s research. These are habits I am trying create and directly correlate to growth mindsets believe that effort/practice is the path to mastery – another point!
~ A YOU ROCK card – there is an underground effort within the team to show appreciation and catch people “doing good”. I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of their goodness – the card reads “Tracy, just wanted to drop you a quick line to thank you for being so upbeat and present, sleeves always rolled up too! I think you are great at your job” – awww…. I might need those tissues myself! This card is a great reminder to persist in the face of setbacks. It’s the nudge I need to keep going when things are tough. Another point!
~ A dusty soda stream – if I’m honest, I was really really good about drinking more water and used my soda stream to create tasty charged water instead of drinking soda. Last Year. If you could see my recycling bin, you’d currently see 3 empty Diet Dr. Peppers. I need to get back on the charged water kick but its more work and simply not as “fun” as real soda. I think I lose a point here, not practicing new habits and falling back into old habits while letting excuses get in the way.
Of the 7 things on my desk, 5 fall squarely into growth mindset, 1 is neutral and 1 isn’t growth mindset focused. That’s not bad! The scale is tipped in my favor and I can always make adjustments (like drinking more charged water) to continue to make progress.
What’s on your desk? What are your daily reminders to live by your values? Where do you fall short? Where are you missing the mark?
At the end of the day, we all have the ability to learn and grow. Its simple but never easy. And many times growth comes out of frustration (like losing hours of work) but creates something even better….hopefully… like this blog.