FAIL, FAIL, FAIL again. Fail better.
Since leaving LSE in 2009, I’ve worked in management consulting in London. I’ve had my share of ups and downs but working for a well known company made me feel better when things were down.
In July this year I attended a summer course on entrepreneurship at Copenhagen Business School. Escaping my normal routine, family and friends helped me to consider what was really important to me. I decided I don’t want to be a cog in a wheel. Instead I want to build something that makes an impact.
Realising this wasn’t enough. I had to decide to accept that is was ok to fail. After all, 90% of startups will fail.
Growth mindset vs fixed mindset
During the course I learned about Professor Carol Dweck’s studies on how people deal with failures. She found two sorts of people – growth mindset and fixed mindset. The growth mindset people are the ones not discouraged by failures, instead they understand that they can learn from mistakes and cultivate skills through effort.
On the contrary, fixed mindset people consider failure as a definition of someone’s character. They consider intelligence and potential to succeed as fixed.
Experts of recent years say that intelligence is not something fixed in a certain quantity in human beings but it is something that can be increased with inputs from the environment.
So why should I care about this?
These concepts are extremely meaningful for us because the views you adopt for yourself influence your life. The moment you look at yourself as a person with fixed skills and characteristics, you waste most of your time proving yourself instead of trying to get better. Conversely, if you look at yourself as a pool of skills that can be improved and increased, you will try to overcome your deficiencies and to challenge yourself to get better.
The perspective of how you see certain events as success, failure and effort also has a great influence on our lives. Success can be seen as validation or as an opportunity to develop yourself. Failure can be seen as a judgment or as a learning process.
The truth is that any achievement requires a lot of effort, practice and persistence. All capabilities – from the most artistic to the most technical – can be learnt with training and dedication
Change of mind
I would say I had a fixed mindset up until very recently. I joined a ‘big four’ company after LSE because I wanted a public stamp of approval and to be part of a large, well-known organisation. I’ve always been concerned with how things “looked” to other people. I now realise this was a sign of my lack of self belief.
In the last year, I’ve become more concerned with understanding what truly motivates me and more interested in riskier and more challenging opportunities. I’ve chosen to surround myself with people who challenge, question and push me, and to spend less time with those who are afraid of change.
I would say that I am now a growth mindset person, with a massive zest for life and a fearlessness to step out of my comfort zone.
From management consultant to entrepreneur
I’m CEO of the Women Entrepreneurs Network, London. I am developing a networking business for women entrepreneurs, wantrepreneurs and those in corporate careers who have an interest in startups. I want to motivate women to step out of their comfort zones, meet new people and realise their potential. We were all born with the same potential and only we can make the decision to exercise this potential or to leave it dormant.
The platform launches in January 2015 and will be a place for women to find business partners, inspiring people and mentors. It will also be a single portal for all the resources like events and training for start-ups in London.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can
If you do not feel you know everything you need to know to succeed, join the ranks of Richard Branson. What set him apart was his growth mindset and confidence in their ability to learn anything.
Remember when Richard Branson’s Virgin was a music record store? How on earth did he think he could learn to manage aeroplanes?
If you want to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship, you need to believe you can learn anything. And you can. Accept that it will take hard work and will require discipline, and you’re on your way.