A funny thing happened to me over the weekend. Let’s talk self-awareness and fixed mindset.
I have been interviewing writers and I talked to 13 to 15 recently. I had a few interesting experiences. One writer and I were going back and forth and I kept digging deeper to ask their knowledge of business management and leadership. They were starting to get short because I kept pushing to understand what their background was in these areas. As I wasn’t getting valid answers, I guess this person finally broke and told me I sound very pessimistic. I was kind of surprised by this, but what I finally realized was the reason I could not get answers from them was that they had none to offer. They had NO background dealing with CEOs, they knew very little about business and leadership and my pushing them wasn’t going to magically give them the background I wanted. I guess my confusion was a result of my misunderstanding about why an inexperienced person would apply.
Then I had some written back-and-forth with another writer. This one seemed okay and so I sent her to round two to fill out the application. In the application, I ask which topics you are seasoned in. This person chose all topics. Then later I have people rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 7. This person said they were a 7. When asking about there experience, they were pretty vague. In the meantime, I noticed they joined one of the groups I run. This was a sign of initiative and earned some points.
In the group, I welcomed them and invited them to introduce themselves to the group. I recommended they do so via video. They decided to do a text post instead. This is a deduction of points. The text post was a total sales pitch intro basically trying to get members to buy their services right away. This is against the rules of the group and so I told them and recommend they read the rules and provided a link for them. As a new member, this sometimes happens and so although it is against the rules, I give them the benefit of the doubt but warn them and tell them future posts like this will be deleted and if I see multiple posts, I will delete them.
The point here is this person wasn’t out of the running yet, but a few things happened next that made me laugh. So this person apologized and said they understood, but had a health issue and probably should not have done their intro until they were feeling better. The apology earned points, but the excuse making lost points. Then a day or two later as I am finalizing reviewal of their samples I noticed they left the group. Okay, so this speaks volumes of their character.
The signs are leading to a red flag of the fixed mindset.
What is a fixed mindset and how do you spot it in others or yourself?
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.
In both of these cases, these people wanted to be great business writers. Both might be decent writers in certain areas, but the first one certainly was not experienced in business and as I pushed them to clarify their experience, they got upset and started blaming me for the conversation going bad. Instead of seeing this as a chance to learn, they quit, blew things up, and placed blame on others (me).
The second writer has some experience in business and has even done some business coaching, I think. They understand a bit about our vision and the struggles of business owners, but they were overly confident and not self-aware of the reality. So they were able and willing to write on ALL topics. That is a red flag, NO ONE is an expert on ALL of the topics. So I had no idea which topics they were an expert in. Then they rated themselves as an expert and gave themselves the highest rating. The issue with this is this person has no room for growth. They are at the top of their game (in their mind). Then when the intro in the group was blatant sales spam it was instantly brought to my attention they had no idea how to do professional sales. Now there is a discrepancy… are you an expert in sales or totally an underperformer. Their action spoke louder than their words.
The next red flag was the excuse making. Instead of blaming something or someone for your misstep, just say… “oh, I am sorry. I didn’t know the rules. It will not happen again. Thanks for letting me know.” You see this is taking responsibility for your actions. To me, this shows a lack of understanding of leadership skills which again, actions speak louder than words. And worse, they quit the group, which again shows a fear of being called out on their shortcomings. This is certainly not the traits of a strong leader. At this point, their actions voided out 2-3 topics they could write for even though they told me they were an expert in these areas. This leads me to think they were like the first applicant just very unaware of their own skillset or thought that it was okay to lie on the application. Either way… bye, bye!
What is self-awareness and why is it important?
Having self-awareness means that you have a sharp realization of your personality, including your strengths and weaknesses, your thoughts and beliefs, your emotions, and your motivations.
If you are self-aware, it is easier for you to understand other people and detect how they perceive you in return.
Many people assume that they have a healthy sense of self-awareness, but it is best to look at a relative scale to see where you fall on it compared to others. Being aware creates an opportunity to make changes in one’s behavior and beliefs.
Some ways to become more self-aware are…
- Ask for feedback at work
- Ask a trusted friend to describe you
- Take some personality tests
- Perform daily self-reflection
- Look at yourself objectively
I truly believe self-awareness is the first step to curing a fixed mindset.
Here is an infographic to help with other ideas for improving your self-awareness.
Now let’s dig a little deeper into the characteristics of a fixed mindset.
People with a fixed mindset avoid challenges, because it makes them feel like they’re not talented or smart. They lose interest when the work gets hard, and they give up easily.
In the stories above this is in perfect alignment with this quote. Both people got frustrated and found it easier to give up then push forward. Their actions kept them from getting the job, not their lack of skills per se. Medium.com also used this great image to help clarify the differences in a fixed mindset over a growth mindset.
Notice in this image the Fixed Mindset has some interesting areas that also align with the above stories…
- I don’t like to be challenged
- When I’m frustrated, I give up
- Feedback and criticism are taken personally
Now let’s take a look at how a Growth Mindset sees the world…
- Failure is an opportunity to grow
- I can learn to do anything I want
- Challenges help me grow
- My effort and attitude determine my abilities
- Feedback is constructive
- I am inspired by the success of others
- I like to try new things
At the end of the day, both of these candidates have the potential to be great business writers if this is what they desire to become. All they need to do is understand their true skillset and learn to be okay with people challenging them. I was not mean in either situation. I was truly just trying to help them out and/or seek understanding. They took it as a personal attack and dropped out.
To be honest, I think anyone could be a business writer if they wanted it bad enough. I mean, hell I have written a few thousand business articles over the last decade or so and I hated school, grammar, spelling, and writing, but here I sit writing for you. I would never say I am an expert writer or an expert in business per se, but I have nearly 20 years of business ownership under my belt and over a decade of writing a few times a week. So I got better. If I can learn it anyone can. I’ll be the first to admit the first 5 years or so my writing was pretty atrocious. Through feedback and critique and a willingness to learn I severely stepped up my game.
To wind things up, I think the best CEOs are ones that truly understand their strengths and weakness and they certainly have a growth mindset. I hope you found this article helpful and I’d ask that you share your thoughts below on what you think of this idea. Is self-awareness the cure for a fixed mindset?
On a side note, if you want to learn when quitting is an asset in your personality have a read of this article – QUITTERS ALWAYS WIN! REVIEWING SETH GODIN’S BOOK THE DIP.