Imagine the possibility of a leadership style that believed that nothing was out of reach. What could be accomplished when future prospects were set by limitless opportunity rather than by age or skill-based limitations? As a future leader, it is essential that you be open to a mindset shift that could be life-altering.
For John Basinger, a professional storyteller, college professor, and actor, age and ability were merely a baseline for growth potential. As he thought about his long-term legacy, Basinger chose to embrace challenge over submission. When Basinger was 58, he decided to memorize the entirety of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. His success in this incredible endeavor was captured by a study by Nautilus, who noted the man’s ability to overcome his age with his unyielding focus on his own growth abilities:
The 12 books of Paradise Lost contain more than 60,000 words; it took Basinger around 3,000 hours to learn them through repetition. He did as such by presenting the piece, line-by-line out loud, for about an hour daily for a very long time. At the point when he retained each of the 12 books, in 2001, Basinger played out the work of art in a live presentation that kept going three days.
The Importance of Managing Your Mindset Shift
Basinger uncovered the dilemma many future leaders face: potential stifled by a fear of the unknown and their current situation. Some entrepreneurs never achieve Basinger-level of accomplishment, choosing instead to move forward in the realm of safety, trusting that where their skills and talents rest today will carry them safely into the future.
In a hungry world for hopeful potential and new innovations, a mindset that is stuck in the limits of today will never lead the future. Rather than looking for new and exciting skills to add to their toolkit, smart entrepreneurs and leaders will consider their current skills, talents, and abilities and choose to step forward into a place of unknown to learn and accomplish new and greater possibilities.
For the leader that realizes that they are never too old or under-qualified to learn new skills and exceed expectations, the future of leadership and industry mastery is at their disposal. While John Basinger was great at many things, he was inspired by the potential to memorize Paradise Lost — and his success took the world by storm.
Push Beyond Your Self-Imposed Limits
A leader in the study of the benefits of building a growth-focused mindset is Stanford University professor of psychology, Dr. Carol Dweck. In her latest release, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Dr. Dweck explores the beliefs that people build regarding the origins and changeability of their talents, intelligence, and actions.
Through scientific study and research, Dr. Dweck has discovered that many individuals have a “fixed” mindset. This fixed mindset creates a nearly-unbreakable belief that their individual qualities, such as intelligence and talent, are fixed, unchangeable traits.
Unfortunately, this fixed mindset keeps individuals trapped under the glass ceiling of their own abilities, unable to push through to discover their actual potential. The false narrative that their current skills and traits are the limit to their abilities keeps many fighting for their mediocre rather than seeking to grow beyond what they thought possible.
Why sit around idly demonstrating, again and again, your past success when you could be improving your future? Why shroud inadequacies instead of defeating them? Why search for family and friends who will simply support your confidence rather than ones who will likewise move you to develop? What’s more, why search out the reliable rather than encounters that will extend you?
The enthusiasm for extending yourself and adhering to it, even (or particularly) when it’s not working out positively, is the sign of a positive growth outlook. This is the mentality that permits individuals to flourish during the absolute most trying occasions in their lives.
Dr. Dweck argues that when entrepreneurs or leaders allow themselves to remain trapped under the concept that their innate skills or talents are fixed at their current level, they will simply allow those limits to define their potential. Fortunately, the world has plenty of examples of this false narrative being crushed. The most passion-struck leaders of our day pushed beyond their self-imposed limits to produce world-changing products and ideas.
Be Like Mike And Create a Mindset Shift
To move beyond false limits and achieve future-leader work, individuals must push beyond their fixed mindset and adopt a new way of thinking focused on growth. With a growth mindset, leaders and entrepreneurs believe that their innate abilities aren’t fixed at a certain level but can be developed through dedication and hard work.
Imagine how the sports world would look today had basketball legend Michael Jordan allowed himself to stay in a fixed mindset. One of the greatest sports legends of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team! The reason? During his sophomore year, he was only 5’9”. His “short” stature caused his taller classmate Leroy Smith to take the final spot on the team.
Jordan, struck by the reality that his height was out of his control, retreated to his bedroom. While there, he found himself at the end of the rope. Yet rather than allow himself to drown in the tears of missed opportunity, Jordan chose a growth mindset. “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
Rather than allow a fixed reality to define his future, Jordan instead decided to place his focus on those aspects that he could change. He began practicing every day after that fateful cut, choosing intentionally to make time for his practice daily without fail. Before long, Jordan’s skills on the court exceeded those of his teammates, and he found himself growing up to 6’3”. Jordan made the team the next year, and his sports career never looked back.
A growth mindset helped Jordan believe in his dream, even when his “fixed” circumstances told him he didn’t stand a chance. Jordan would win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award five times in his career and dominated the world of basketball for more than a decade in the ’90s.
Welcome Criticism, See Things in a New Way
How do we account for the ability to push beyond the fixed reality to a world of growth? Again, we turn to Dr. Dweck’s groundbreaking research into this growth-centric mindset:
“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people…change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.” Dr. Carol Dweck, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”
A growth mindset is essential for future leaders to make an impact in their industry. When your focus moves from fixed to growth in your own abilities, you also free up your mind to dream of how other seemingly “fixed” elements of the world are capable of far more.
What are your “fixed” attributes and talents? Consider those aspects of your personal and professional life that seem set from birth. Are there any elements of those skills or traits that could be grown through adopting new theories, practices, and technology? You may be surprised to find an entirely new world just beyond what you thought was possible.
By having the courage and boldness to ask Why to the status quo and explore new and risky ways to accomplish goals with increased effectiveness and efficiency, you can open up yourself, your team, and your consumers with the potential of a new product.
So what will you choose to do with your limited amount of days? Will you seek ways to intentionally create your life, or will you allow the so-called “fixed” circumstances or attributes of your life drive your potential? Bliss and harmony won’t transpire without anyone else — You need to establish a climate where you can encounter those positive feelings. It comes with personal growth.
If you are to become the future leader that this world needs you to be, you need to begin to shift your mindset from the world of “fixed equilibrium” to “growth potential.” Audit those parts of your life that seem stuck or stalled, and take note of your strengths and weaknesses in your personal life and your field.
Then ask yourself: What would happen if I chose to grow beyond myself? What steps can you take starting today to uncover new skills, talents, and potential connections that will help you grow beyond the now?
Will the process be scary and uncertain? Of course. But then again, when has any great innovation been born of the mundane and status quo? You are in the driver’s seat of your life — so put the car in drive and start making new roads through your mindset shift.
To hear how you can progress on this, listen to my podcast on conducting a Mosquito Audit in your life.