“What kind of person would you want to work with? Call out some traits,” said Seth.
Smart. Passionate. Talented. A great listener. Problem solver . . . and so on.
As each trait was placed in the appropriate category, it became increasingly difficult to differentiate an attitude and a skill. At one point we all looked like confused puppies.
As the list narrowed down a pattern began to emerge: attitudes and skills cannot exist without one another.
When hiring or deciding the direction of the company culture, it’s easy to mistake what we’re looking for. Gifts are the shiny attributes that are unique to the individual, like innate talent. Attitudes and skills are malleable traits that denote “the person they’ll become,” as Jason Fried describes it:
While it’s a bonus to find that perfect person today, I find it more rewarding (for me and them) to pluck the future perfect person out of their mediocre job today. I love betting on people with potential. When they finally get that chance to do their best work, they blossom in such a special way.
And as the owner of a company, few things make me prouder than seeing someone excelling in a way that their resume/portfolio/references wouldn’t have suggested they could.
So when I ask what kind of person you want to work with, it’s possible that what you’re searching for is not specific gifts, but people who are willing to harness the ability to develop new traits and skills that not only benefit the company but also fulfill their own personal lives. What you see is not all that you get—there’s so much more to be unearthed and so much potential to be unlocked, but only with the right mindset and environment.
The Science Behind Traits
The “fixed mindset” is believing that your traits are concrete—that your level of intelligence is fixed and cannot improve no matter the effort put in, like the color of your eyes.
The “growth mindset” is all about improving through effort and learning from failure. Mishaps are not indications of a flawed character, but rather, opportunities to learn.
and further research shows that :
As Dweck said in her insightful book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:
This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
To encourage the development of new traits or skills, it’s important to identify the mindset that permeates the company. In short, what do you believe? Do you believe you can become a better writer, designer, manager, and leader? Are youborn creative or do you become creative?
This simple testament of “Yes, I can learn this” versus “No, I was born this way” has a profound impact on our behavior as well as the quality of our lives. But to grow the team, there must be harmony between internal beliefs and the team environment.