July 17, 2012
Dr. Michael Ames is a Professor Emeritus at CSUF, Chairman of the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and aids many different organizations, both inside and outside the university, in advancing our free enterprise system. We have been fortunate enough to have him create a series of blog posts about Guiding Principles. Here is the fourth post in this series.
If you missed the first three posts you can find them here: Blog #1: Mihaylo Entrepreneurship’s Guiding Principles, Blog #2: What are Guiding Principles, Really? and Blog #3: What are the Requirements for Effective Use of Guiding Principles?
This Blog #4 is the first of a two-part discussion of how to use guiding principles to build successful ventures. The how-to discussion offers three lessons:
(1) What-it-is is what-it-is. (2) Do what must be done, and do it well. (3) Build teams first. Blog #4 presents the first lesson. Blog #5 will present the second and third lessons.
The first lesson is, “What-it-is is what-it-is.” Ours is not a perfect world. We strive for success in our personal life and our new ventures. Yet, life offers no guarantees. Our virtues, talents and teamwork do not guarantee venture success. Circumstances may overwhelm our strongest and most disciplined efforts – illness, injury, death, man-made calamities, natural disasters, and fierce, marketplace competition just to name a few. We and our new ventures are born in a tough neighborhood.
We agree with Carol S. Dweck that the right “mindset” will help you thrive in our tough neighborhood. According to Dweck, our mindset frames the running account that’s taking place in our heads. It guides the way we interpret what we see and how we respond. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Ballantine Books (2006), Dweck defines and contrasts two mindsets: fixed and growth. She summarizes her extensive research in a clever chart. (Dweck, p. 245)
Following Dweck’s chart, people with fixed mindsets assume intelligence is static. This leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to (1) avoid challenges, (2) get defensive or give up easily when faced with challenges, (3) see effort as fruitless or worse, (4) deal poorly with criticism – ignoring useful negative feedback, and (5) feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, people with fixed mindsets may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. [In our tough neighborhood we believe people with fixed mindsets will likely fare much worse. They start by trying to look smart and many end as victims.]
The other half of Dweck’s Chart describes people with growth mindsets. These people assume intelligence can be developed. This leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to (1) embrace challenges, (2) persist in the face of setbacks, (3) see effort as the path to mastery, (4) learn from criticism, and (5) find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result, they reach ever-higher levels of achievement. [We agree. People with growth mindsets are challengers. If anyone can, they can survive and even thrive in our tough neighborhood]
Are you worried that you might not be up to the success challenge? Our advice to you is to TRY ANYWAY. Worrying about living in a tough neighborhood is OK. Being a bit paranoid about it is even OK. Still, the first lesson about how to use Guiding Principles to build successful ventures remains: “what-it-is is what-it-is.” Adopt Dweck’s growth mindset. Choose a worthwhile path. Take calculated risks to achieve what you believe must be done. Don’t fear failure. Be confident in your ability to learn from setbacks and strengthen your capabilities. Be determined and persistent. Never give up. The secret to success is to be a challenger, not a victim.
You face many challenges. Ask yourself, “What would a victim do about them? What would a challenger do about them?” Choose to be a challenger. This choice is the secret to success.
This blog post is the fourth in a series about Mihaylo Entrepreneurship’s Guiding Principles. This Blog #4, is the first of a two-part discussion about how to use guiding principles to build successful ventures. In it, we introduced three lessons and then we discussed the first lesson: What-it-is is what-it-is. Blog #5 will present the second and third lessons.
To read Blog #1: Mihaylo Entrepreneurship’s Guiding Principles, Blog #2: What are Guiding Principles, Really? and Blog #3: What are the Requirements for Effective Use of Guiding Principles? please click on the links.