growth mindset

growth mindset

Growth Mindset – Five Steps to Building One for Business

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One of my colleagues recently made a statement which stirred my thinking about building a growth mindset: “Paul, if you think you can, then you can, and if you think you can’t, then you can’t.” For a moment, I was taken aback by these words which got me wondering, “am I in a prison of my own identity held captive by my own creation?”

These thoughts led me to research more on how human beings are wired, and what makes some people more successful than others in similar circumstances. I realized that our mindset plays a huge role in how we view our potential and our ability to learn and deal with the challenges that we face in our daily lives.

Steps to achieving a growth mindset?

In her bookMindset: The New Psychology of Success” Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck defined mindset as a set of beliefs and traits about human nature. Her decades of research concluded that there are two types of mindsets: growth and fixed.

Do you have a fixed and growth mindset?
  1. By believing that your skills and talents can be honed. This way, you create a new compelling belief of yourself. Consider failure as an extra effort to significantly improve the current results for the better. According to Dweck, people with a growth mindset believe that skills and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence. They view effort positively because when applied in skills, competencies, and character development, it results in growth. Their passion for learning helps them consider failure as a learning opportunity. Hence, they step out of their comfort zones and take calculated risks. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset believe that skills and intelligence are innate and unchangeable.
  2. Enhance your self-awareness to comprehend your key strengths and weaknesses fully. This will be possible when you positively take feedback on areas of improvement to better enhance your current status. This is summarized by Carol Dweck as follows: “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”
  3. Become a curious learner by living in wonderment and discover the beauty of life. Learning different experiences will teach you different lessons. This will help you embrace challenges no matter how impossible they look to be, to reach the top. According to Simon Sinek, “Some people see the thing they want, and some people see the thing that prevents them from getting what they want.”
  4. Be inspired by others’ achievements and have a desire to see others achieve their own echelons of success. When this happens, it simply adds fuel to their blazing fire to keep on with the journey. it doesn’t mean they’re always on a growth mindset path. The truth is, we all have the two mindsets at play in our lives. Since these mindsets apply to all life’s domains from artistic, emotional, academic, physical and social skills, a person with a growth mindset in one area may hold a fixed mindset in another.
  5. Finally, perseverance is an essential prerequisite for a growth mindset. The feeling of frustration has been cited as the quickest way of giving up long before we should. We are designed to thrive! Don’t focus too much on what is happening to you but rather devote your energy on what’s happening for you.

In conclusion, the aspect of mindset represents a spectrum. That means, in different times and situations, you might be on a growth mindset, while other times you slip into a fixed mindset. It takes your self-awareness to flex back to growth mindset when you slip to a fixed zone. The realization that you are in control of your abilities is the first step to adopting a growth mindset!

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career advice

Career Advice: Kenya’s Leading HR Pros Share Career Tips

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This year we’ve hosted several career advice panels in Nairobi to introduce rising professionals to industry experts in their chosen fields.

We recently had the privilege of hosting Angeline Mutua, Chief Manager, Talent Management & Staff Development at Kenya Revenue Authority, Christopher Karani, Talent Manager at Unilever, and Christopher Mwirigi, Learning and Development Manager at I&M Bank to discuss key trends in HR, career advice for advancement, and wisdom on personal and professional growth.

Here are some of the insights they shared about professional growth and career advancement:

Advocate for your next opportunity

Learn how to sell yourself. Be bold and ask for what you want. Angeline shared that she was able to transition from a career in Communications to being an Executive Administrator and finally into HR by consistently seeking feedback and advocating for the next opportunity. She explained how early in her career, she would ask to take on new roles during meetings and presentations, building her skill set while showing her boss that she was capable of new responsibilities.

She shared that she was impressed with the initiative she’s seen from her younger colleagues: “This generation is not going to sit and wait for opportunities! They know they won’t just have a development plan handed to them.” Remember that if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?

Stay up to date with industry news and current events

Christopher Mwirigi offered the career advice that keeping up to date with industry and business news could help you have meaningful conversations with leaders within your company and position yourself for advancement. Subscribe to industry newsletters and read the paper — not only to impress your boss but also to enrich your own understanding of your company’s work. Ask yourself: If you were in an elevator with your CEO, what would you want to discuss with them?

Chris Karani reiterated the importance of reading and continuously learning. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, some of the skills you know today will be irrelevant in the next two years. This means you need to seek out ways in which you will remain relevant in your career and workplace in general.

“Understand your industry and organization inside out and the ways in which you add value. Keep in mind that organizations are less afraid of losing you but more afraid of retaining an individual who adds no value to them,” said Chris. In the recruitment process, take the time to understand the organization you want to work for, what they do, the impact they make and what value you can bring on board.

There is no conventional way of landing your dream job

Take on the journey of self-discovery, start from where you are to get to where you want to be. It doesn’t matter what you studied, or what you are currently doing, keep going and seek out ways to drive yourself towards where your goal.

Angeline started her career journey in communications for a number of years, tried out other roles, before getting into Human Resources. Christopher Karani studied Computer Science in campus and currently uses technology to improve Human Resources practices across his organization, while Christopher Mwirigi’s first passion was football, and now applies the same teamwork and confidence in his HR career, focusing on learning and development.

Find a mentor

Mentorship is key to career and personal development. You may be lucky enough to find a mentor in a current or former supervisor, but more often, you will need to be proactive in seeking a mentor.

Is there a leader you admire in your organization? Or perhaps you know someone outside of work who is great at a particular skill set that you’d like to work on. LinkedIn could also be a valuable tool for reaching out to a potential mentor. Chris Karani offered the career advice that he made a list of professionals on LinkedIn with HR positions he aspired to, and then reached out to each of them with a thoughtful list of questions. One of the professionals who responded has been his mentor ever since!

This example highlights an important bit of career advice — be sure to approach a potential mentor with a clear “ask” and discussion questions, so that they feel their time is being used productively. And remember — sometimes finding the right mentor can be challenging but don’t be discouraged, you will find someone who is a natural fit to guide you with their advice and feedback.

Your attitude is fundamental

While confidence, intellect, and knowledge are key when it comes to making it in any field, your attitude has the potential to open doors for you. This could be as simple as being proactive when it comes to learning; often times you don’t have to have all that’s listed in a job description but your willingness to learn and grow sets you apart.

Part of having a positive attitude is not being afraid to fail. It is often said that failure is the best teacher. You learn how not do certain things, how not to act and it shows you what doesn’t work. No matter where you are in your career at the moment, remember you can always begin again and do better. Always focus on the possibilities of success, not the potential for failure!

Thanks again to our incredible panelists for their wisdom and career advice. Want to make sure you’re on the invite list for our next Careers event in Nairobi? Sign up for our newsletter here.

Related: Seven young business leaders in Kenya share the best career advice they ever received