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A Growth Mindset In Action

A question I get asked a lot, as someone who made a career pivot post-forty, is, “How did you do it?” The long answer involves a winding path of two plus decades of experience-building, skills-learning, credential-earning, and network-expanding. The short answer is a growth mindset.

A growth mindset can look a lot like following your gut, changing your mind, and taking risks. I was in a constant state of “becoming” before Michelle Obama made it a mantra and introduced the concept of the “swerve,” because I had a growth mindset – and a constant pull to do more.

Whether it’s a career swerve, going back to school, weathering cultural and societal changes, or learning how to knit, a growth mindset can be an asset and a key ingredient for success. So, how can we adopt a growth mindset regardless of the goal at hand? Here are some things I learned as part of my own journey and a few resources that helped me:

  1. Picture the end result, work backwards – then get started.

  2. Cultivate a love of learning. And sometimes, unlearning.

  3. Lean in. Use your voice. Claim a seat at the table.

  4. Lean on. Friends, family, mentors, teachers, colleagues. Ask for help when you get stuck.

  5. Accept what being a beginner is going to look like. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty.

  6. Reframe failure. Remember the Thomas Edison quote, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

  7. Recognize that working for free can pay off big down the road. I was offered my first full-time PR job (which changed my life) because I volunteered to work a high-profile event first.

  8. Build your courage, adaptability, and resilience muscles.

  9. There will be a time when you’ll say, “This is so freaking hard.” That’s when 99% of other people quit.

  10. Understand the difference between growth and guarantees. I can promise if you do 1-9 you’ll grow. No one can promise you’ll succeed, but if you never try, you’ll always fail.

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