A person's mindset can impact the course of their career…

mindset Mar 09, 2022

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According to google, a mindset is the established set of attitudes held by someone. A person’s mental state determines the choices they make and subsequently the circumstances they find themselves in. It is incredibly important to understand this concept because a person’s mindset can set the course of their careers in significant ways.   

Let’s compare Person A and Person B to illustrate this point:

Person A is a decent student in school. They have great social skills and are able to get others to agree with them, regularly. Some may say they have great communication and influential skills. They are likable and tend to make friends easily. They move on from school and get their first job. At the new job, they are willing to take risks that allow them to be seen favorably by their peers and their organization’s leaders. They also tend to involve others in their process of decision making. They are well able to rally others to accept their ideas and generally, it appears that they are heading off in an upward direction, career wise. Person A is not perfect. They also tend not to take accountability for their actions when things don’t go as well as they planned and while they do not appear to blame others, they tend to refuse to accept responsibility when things fall apart.

Person B is a great student at school. They are introverted and prefer to work on their own. They don’t mind others but are more comfortable working on projects alone. They are very good at what they do and very skilled. They move on to the professional world and are not very comfortable with taking risks.  They work hard and do most of their work alone, as much as possible. They think about the impact of their actions and are not so quick to make decisions because they care about outcomes and their consequences. Person B is liked by others but most people only reach out to them when necessary. Person B follows the rules and does the “right” things, even when tempted to do otherwise. Person B does not evoke attention in the same way Person A does. Although people do notice them by the quality of their work. 

In your opinion, which one do you think is more likely to have the type of career that will land them in a senior leadership position soon? And more importantly, why?

If you bet on Person A, you are correct. Our society has tended to reward the loudest, more people-friendly workers over those who bow their heads and do as they are told. Why? Most likely because some of the demands at the leadership level, which requires one to take on risks, be able to work well with others, especially those who are different from them, and those who have influence and/or some level of charisma. Many times, we find leaders who are not the most qualified in terms of their education level but who have such good interpersonal skills that they end up on the short list for promotions.  

So, what does mindset have to do with this? Everything! Person A has the expectation that they will succeed, especially because they have experienced it before. In school, while they did well enough to get by in terms of their education, and still observed things working out for them. They graduated, had great social lives, received perks that they may not have had to work so hard for and met individuals along the way who confirmed their thought process of success by supporting them. Person B, on the other hand, has the expectation that they must work hard for things, instead of smart. They have seen themselves not being popular and were completely okay with it. It has worked fine until they found themselves in the workplace and realized those social skills they didn’t cultivate as much impacted their opportunities for professional success.  

How can a Person B type find professional success? Many Person B types end up becoming successful entrepreneurs where the value they bring to the work has more impact than their social status. When that’s not an option, they work at developing their social skills, rewire their mindset to believe that things always work out for them and take steps to improve their confidence in the areas they want to improve. They find, over time, that the things they were concerned about before are not such a big deal if they create the types of environments that are conducive to success in the way they can grow.

How can a Person A type grow? They choose to be opened to reducing their level of entitlement. They accept responsibility for their shortcomings and choose to stop taking actions at the expense of others. They try to start taking small steps toward increasing their level of responsibility without taking advantage of others. For them too, this is hard work.

Everyone has qualities and inadequacies. The question is, while it is great to focus on our strengths, there are times when we must face our shortcomings, especially when we know they impact others. More importantly, there comes a time when each person is ready to address their character and the examples provided above are great ways to help us consider things. If you think you have some areas to work on, consider your mindset first. It will provide you with a different perspective on how to reroute your professional circumstances.

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