7 lessons learned to feed your growth mindset
Since the start of my professional career, I have always been looking for growth. Over the years I’ve encountered several topics which at that moment felt like this is it! Yes, now I’m going to dive into ‘this’ topic and become a specialist in X. Then topic Y came along and some years later it was Z. Looking back at my career it is clear to me that I became a ‘special’ generalist. Up until 2017 I was mainly focused on technical subjects.
Grateful for the foundation I’ve built up in my first 7,5 years working as software professional in the telecom market. I started a new journey to work on things that were more visual, which moved me to the web industry. Due to my knowledge and experience, it started out in building cool games for the Nintendo DS handheld. Not really web related, but nonetheless an exciting and valuable experience to me and my colleagues from that period. Patience was rewarded, after joining a new company which did only focus on creating high end experiences for the web and mobile devices. For 3 years, I extended my web- and app development skills, mostly auto didactic throughout several shiny projects. Since this fire for growth was burning inside of me, I decided to move on. Another year passed in the web/e-commerce industry, before this company in Eindhoven got my attention.
Until this point, after 13 years in the tech/web/app industry, I had never seriously considered working for a high-tech secondment agency. Someone special to me, pointed out to really think about what I find important to have in a job. He just started at Fourtress earlier that year and shared his experience, enthusiasm and freedom to develop himself. With interest and open mind, I started to scroll through their website and collected some more information. There were a few testimonials from their ambassadors. One of them spoke about the attention in you as a person and the freedom to develop your technical but also personal skills. That sounded amazing and it resonated with this burning hunger for growth.
January 2014, my journey at Fourtress started and I never could have imagined what a journey it would be like as it turned out. I can confirm that they have exceeded my expectations, that they have fed my thirst for growth in various ways and continue to do so. Later I discovered, it was because of my mixed experience that made the difference to invite me for an interview. In the available expertise, mainly embedded and middleware, it soon became clear that I was the 2nd odd duck they had brought in, but not without reason. The active Field manager from back then foresaw that Fourtress would need extra manpower in the web/app technology.
In the beginning I started mainly extending my technical knowledge, because I still thought to become a specialist in XYZ and time will tell what that would be in the end. In parallel, learning new work methodologies through trainings like ‘Experience Agile’, ‘Certified Scrum Master’ and ‘Leading of Professionals’, it opened new ways to improve productivity and processes for creating more value within a project or assignment as a team. Unconsciously these trainings were preparing me to fulfil roles as team lead (TL) / project manager (PM). In subsequent projects, I was increasingly assigned to the role of TL/PM where almost every project brought new challenges… either in technology, management, politics or coaching people and being there for them when needed.
Sometimes it frustrated me that seemingly for every project or assignment, it felt like that I had to start all over again and learn things from scratch. Looking back, knowing what I know now, it totally fits that this is exactly what I was attracting and attracted by. I was just passing fuel to my never-ending hunger for growth. Nowadays when new things pop up, I (try to – still learning) approach it as a challenge and not as a problem. Herein relies a totally different mindset which is more supportive, creative and produces (more) value. Feedback was not always easy to receive, because it reveals an improvement point. But that’s just it, nothing more nothing less, you can steer your thoughts of what you have done ‘wrong’ or … take a step back and see what lesson it has actually given you.
In these 7+ years several valuable lessons have crossed my path, that in my opinion are worth sharing.
1. Good is good enough.
In the execution of my tasks, I usually take a systematic approach. The trick is to divide the issue into manageable chunks and to come up with possible solutions for it. I apply a high standard for myself, say trying to do everything as perfectly as possible. During evaluation interviews, I have received the feedback several times that sometimes good is good enough. Perfection is like reaching the end of a rainbow! If you don’t come to this realisation, you can drive yourself crazy with it.
2. Get to know yourself.
In my first year at Fourtress, the process of getting to know myself better really started. We were tested on our personalities/characteristics in order to get a better understanding of how they are distributed in areas such as introversion, extroversion, thinking and feeling. From the inside I already felt that my introverted tendencies were more strongly represented compared to my extroverted tendencies. This resulted into the belief that it might be better to stay away from training or presenting to others in order to share my knowledge. Along the way I finally came to realise that this was a limiting belief, created by my own mind and no one else. If you imagine a bright picture of yourself doing things, then it will become reality. Last year I had the opportunity to become a certified trainer of ‘The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity’ and facilitated 2 work sessions. For this year new sessions have already been planned and I’m convinced more will follow.
By discovering yourself, it reveals what truly makes you happy. I love to share knowledge, help others grow, provide them with focus on doing the right things. In November 2020 during ‘The A-factor’ seminar, I wrote my confidence identity statement: I am a loyal, joyful, passionate and brave king, father, go getter, trainer and warrior that creates happiness, inspires people, provides focus, changes lives and loves unconditionally. This is an ongoing process and will continue to evolve. Curious and always open to learning new things, from anybody, anywhere and in every moment.
3. Take control of your thoughts.
On a daily basis our mind is running lots and lots of thoughts. Most of them come and go, but what is interesting is the returning thoughts that come into your mind. They can go into two directions, either positive or (unfortunately) negative. If you keep running in the latter, this will have an impact on your feelings, which impact your actions and finally your results. The opposite however is also true. If from now on you start leading your thoughts towards positive and supportive desires on regular basis, it will impact your feeling, actions and results as well. High likely these positive thoughts will provide with better focus and desired results.
Most of our thoughts are influenced by what we have experienced in our childhood, what did you see, what did you hear and what did you feel, all on regular basis. These have become your unconscious conditions and are worth investigating. If you’re struggling with getting things done, achieve goals or wishes, then this is certainly an area you should dive into.
4. Manage your time and energy.
We can create many things, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It is how you choose to use your given time here on earth. To me, good health and exercise has become important. I hope to live until the day that I (hopefully) may turn into a granddad, something my father unfortunately never got the chance to. My father, besides being my hero, was a heart patient but finally passed away due to cancer. Remarkably, it was his heart which kept him going until the final moment when he sight his last breath. In such times it makes you realise what is important and what not.
Don’t spend any time or energy on unimportant things. Don’t be to materialistic about having items or whatever, because in the end all these things don’t matter and add no meaning or value to our lives. Especially in these information times, I recommend that you use your time and energy wisely.
5. Leaders are readers.
Until 2017, I never really was a reader. Of course, I read technical books to learn on new programming languages or technologies. My hunger for growth was once more fuelled by reading books on personal development. It all started with a few books of Tony Robbins and since then one book led to another and in turn led to many more. Feeding my mind on these subjects really opened new ways and views on how our feeling and thinking are connected. There are many interesting principles and practices that can help you find your personal mission statement.
Start exchanging one ‘Netflix’ moment per week and spent that time on feeding your mind with new insights, knowledge and principles by reading. Hopefully sparking an idea, some inspiration, maybe even a few ‘a-ha’ moments, that in the end will distill a new goal and put you into action. Like writing a blog and sharing inspiration and thoughts.
6. Connect, share and give.
Fulfilment in life is hardly impossible to generate by oneself. I always had this passion for connectivity, it started out on technical level at a telecom company, shifting to making it more visual, building solutions that connected things and finally finding my interest in connecting people. Once you start connecting, sharing and giving it will raise the stakes beyond your imagination…
Due to my urge in helping and serving people, I had this tendency to help someone while the person did not even ask for it. Seeing someone struggling to find an answer makes you feel to step in and provide possible answers or solutions. During ‘The Art of Engineering’ I learned a valuable lesson that sometimes you help someone by not helping them. In this way you actually take a step back, give room for the other person to find a solution by themselves. This search might just be the experience they need to go through and it’s better not to steal that opportunity.
You don’t know what you don’t know yet (quote taken from Meditation Moments app). Connect with like-minded people and start sharing your ideas and thoughts. By emphatic listening, giving back and synergy the equation of 1 + 1 becomes 3 or probably even more.
7. Speak your mind.
The world is filled with possibilities. When you’re just starting your career, it is hard to imagine what kind of possibilities lie in front of you. We are encouraged as ambassadors to think for ourselves and write down our 1-year goals and even look a bit further. Speak your mind, talk about what is circling in your head. What are the things you want to achieve, what skill do you need for it and what step can you take today to get 2mm closer towards that dream.
It might be that you are not comfortable in speaking your ideas directly to your peers or manager. Let them grow, give your ideas space and write them down. As I write, I invite! And then that day will come, when you take that step out of your comfort zone and make that first bold stretch.
From my own experience I can definitely share it unleashed new opportunities and currently my saw is being sharpened for a new project which is in development…
One last thing while enjoying the process, take a deep breath and keep it K.I.S.S.: Keep it simple & silly. Have fun, go crazy and keep your energy levels high. That’s it, don’t over complicate things, life is already hard enough on its own… or is that our mind tricking us?
By any chance did you discover what my favourite brand was before I switched to iPhone and which book had the most influence on this post?