The Growth Mindset - Lessons Learned From My Mentors & Others
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
I was recently speaking with a high school friend of mine, who was also the fastest sprinter in our school. He ran the 100m sprint in 10.9 seconds.
When I reflected on this in juxtaposition with the world record set by Usain Bolt (9.58 seconds), it got me thinking about the slim margins that differentiate the most elite outperformers from others (Or in this case, Olympic Gold from a high school track star — 1.32 seconds).
At Duro Capital, Chadd has the insatiable thirst of being a better investor every day. He consumes an insane amount of information on a daily basis — from reading the AFR from cover to cover, to reading all analyst reports and news alerts set for the companies we are invested in or watching, to various annual reports, investment letters from a long list of investors he follows, right down to relevant alternate data (e.g. credit card data, Google trends, web traffic and travel data etc) — the list goes on.
On top of this, he somehow finds the time to read at least a book a week and listens to various podcasts and interviews of the investors he respects.
Whilst also in a high growth experience, I started to think about my personal approach to expansion and growth, and whether it warranted me to adopt a structured approach or to continue in an organic manner if I was to be the best possible version of myself.
Despite the question being relevant for all facets of our lives, my focus was on the professional aspect of life.
In considering my approach, I decided to seek the guidance of my mentors and some other high performing people in my network. Whilst their advice is personal, I thought to summarise and share some of the key lessons in this blog for two reasons:
(1) For the benefit of others.
(2) To keep me accountable.
Here are their thoughts:
On structured development:
An athlete does not turn up to training whatever time they want and do any exercise they want. They train skills, endurance, fitness, strength, mental etc. All of these facets must be appropriately scheduled, measured and nurtured for improvement.
The approach is personality driven.
Routine is key to outperformance over time.
Identify the areas you seek to strengthen and consider short targeted courses. Most universities offer short courses on a broad range of topics like leadership, managerial finance etc.
Learning and adopting the use of mental models (The Farnam Street blog is a great starting point — www.fs.blog).
The use of shorter-term goal horizons for weekly achievement on the path of long-term goal achievement.
On organic development:
My career progression followed no logical progression. The key is to be curious and to be brave enough to take a leap of faith in yourself and others.
Read! I am reading 4–5 books at any time on a wide variety of subject matter.
You know you’re on a high growth experience when you’re sitting on a plane reading books and listening to podcasts rather than sleeping or watching movies.
New circumstances and challenges are a high growth opportunity.
My growth has come from finding things that I genuinely enjoy doing so that the exploration feels more like a hobby/passion than an organised job.
To succeed today, you need to think differently to others. If people are looking left, then look to the right. Don't follow the herd.
Push through the barriers of pain — Muhammad Ali famously said “I don’t count my sit-ups, I start counting when it hurts”.
Grit and growth mindset will outperform in the long term — read Angela Duckworth’s book on this.
Whilst the feedback I received from my gracious mentors and network varied significantly, here’s what I took away after reflecting on the advice (for what its worth):
Habitual and intentional actions reaching towards growth compound over time.
You need to be willing to learn — learning is when experience meets self-reflection.
Follow your curiosity and passion but maintain a structure (the athlete training analogy). For example, as a leader in an investment firm my equivalent of strength, fitness, strength, mental and skills training might be first principles investment, micro-economics, organisation building, leadership, culture and corporate strategy.
Without passion, it will be difficult to outperform.
Growth mindset and grit will outperform over time.
Feel free to reach out and share your experiences. I would love to learn more about your respective journeys and your growth experiences!
Be well and think big,