Growth Mindset: How to adopt the secret to start-up success

By Tevis Shokdra

Over the holidays, when the family gathered around the dinner table, I’d listen attentively to hours of various debates only to find a moment to interject and amend a relative’s misconception with an obscure history fact, to which they would, often condescendingly, reply, “Well aren’t you lucky you were born so clever.”

Growing up, that really irritated me, because in my mind, it wasn’t luck. I mean, no kid is magically born knowing the details of the Bolshevik Revolution. A natural curiosity helps, but choosing to read a book instead of playing an hour of video games at night wasn’t luck. It was an investment, and for a twelve-year-old, a painful one.

Only in university did I realize our family back-and-forths over the years were a result of two opposing schools of thought.

The first — a fixed mindset — affirms intelligence as a fixed trait dictated by birth. By contrast, the second school of thought — the growth mindset — believes intelligence can be developed, and that you are constantly growing and improving.

Whether it was through various literary influences or through trial-and-error in personal relationships, I was sold on the growth mindset early. After all, to paraphrase my twelve-year-old self, “If you can level up in video games, why not in real life?”

Enter the world of tech start-ups, where the notion of a growth mindset spans far beyond personal experiences.

Digging deeper, I discovered mindset is often praised as a crucial factor in the success of not only the individual, but of the organization as a whole.

So why are start-ups giving large enterprises a run for their money?

Large enterprises have armies of employees and almost-infinite resources. But what a start-up lacks in physical resources, it makes up for with their people. Their teams are tight-knit groups of entrepreneurs working in unison toward a common goal. They are high-functioning innovators MacGyvering daily complex problems with creative solutions, leveling-up through trial-and-error, all while wearing their failures like badges of honour.

So, what makes a start-up so effective? Well, they’re empowered to execute on their ideas, big or small, and to seek out lasting success by overcoming and learning from failure. By nature, a start-up environment empowers and fosters a growth mindset; a start-up is constantly changing, its organizational structure is fluid and its processes inherently promote upward momentum for its employees and, in turn, for its bottom line.

In my personal life, a growth mindset has boiled down to analyzing goals and organizing them to create a roadmap. That strategic roadmap is followed through with persistent execution, chipping away at the goal daily. The result? Insane levels of productivity, motivation, and drive. So far, this is what I’ve learned:

3 Key Factors Required to Adopt a Growth Mindset.

1. Desire — Change begins at the desire to change.

Remember when you were a kid and your relatives asked the ominous, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to which you probably replied with a shrug and didn’t think twice.

Even the thought of picking a single profession to pursue for the rest of your life feels like finding a needle in a haystack. What if, instead, when faced with the same question, you analyzed all the activities, traits and actions that you enjoy on a daily basis and organized them into a concise plan designed to repeat enjoyable tasks and eliminate unenjoyable ones? Chances are, you’ll find that ominous decision much easier to make.

But by taking a passive stance and pushing aside the question, you’re doing yourself — and the world — a disservice. Change begins at the desire to change.

2. Mindset — The road to success is paved with failure.

What’s the root of success? Hard work? Sure. Strategic thinking? Yeah, of course. But the words I’m thinking of are persistence, determination, and willpower. I’ve found this to be a common theme in countless success stories. For example . . .

Removing the “I can’t” mindset and adopting a “how can I” mindset is often the most arduous step. Everyone has desires, and most of us can channel our efforts toward diligent work, but the ability to overcome constant failure has proven to be the distinguishing factor between ‘good’ and ‘great’.

It may be a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary one where growth is concerned — in business and in society. In a large enterprise, you may be scolded for messing up, but in start-ups, failures are celebrated (ex. at TribalScale they’re met with applause) and promoted to other team members for group learning. The road to success is paved with failure; a fact many start-ups seem to not only understand, but thrive on.

3. Execution — The key lies in quick wins.

Following the immense desire to achieve a goal and the mindset to overcome failure, execution is all that remains. If you’re ticking these boxes off your mental checklist and are still not seeing results, you’ve probably pieced together that working hard is not enough; working smart is equally important. A goal without a dedicated execution plan is only a dream, after all.

What happens when we fail? We get burned out, discouraged, and we lose sight of our goal. We convince ourselves that we cannot succeed and we stop trying. Burnout often comes from having ambitious goals that are not sufficiently broken down into action items.

Success is hard, and quitting is easy. Without clear, concise and achievable tasks, it’s easy to be consumed in the magnitude of our goals and as a result, see our productivity and efficiency suffer.

Retaining motivation is difficult. What I’ve learned works well for me is planning for key milestones, while simultaneously emphasizing ‘quick wins’. Quick wins bring forth the momentum required to tackle the big wins while also warding off discouragement. They demonstrate progress in the pursuit of our goal by boosting our confidence and enthusiasm. The more achievable the goal becomes, the more we are motivated to achieve it. The key lies in quick wins.


About the author

Throughout his first year on the Business Development team at TribalScale, Tevis Shkodra has played a crucial role in coordinating across departments to implement and improve upon the company’s sales operations and sales enablement processes and best practices.

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