Everything starts with your mindset. It’s the foundation to your successful skill set. You can adjust your mindset for success.

Let me tell you a story about adjusting your mindset.

Back in 2011 I was leaving one of the top Investment Banks in the world (after six solid years). The reason? I was surplus to requirements. No edge. No stack. Goodbye. There were plenty of other developers with the same (cloned) skills as I had.

It was probably the lowest point of my career. At the same time, I had a young family, mortgage, car loan and bills. I was completely stressed out. Looking back, it was one of the best things that happened to me. Seriously. It was a kick in the backside that I needed. It started my path towards changing my mindset. It led me to where I am today. And it’s these lessons which I will share with to you.

What’s a mindset?

According to Carol Dweck, there are two basic mindsets which shape our lives: Fixed vs Growth. A person with a Fixed mindset believes that their skills and abilities are, well, fixed. You are either good at something or not. A person with a Growth mindset believes that they can do anything.

I’m not a psychologist, but the point I’m trying to get across is to adjust your mindset towards Growth.

Specifically:

  • Skills – Do believe you can develop your skills?
  • Challenges – Can you step up to tough challenges?
  • Obstacles – Can you keep on going even if faced with multiple failures?
  • Effort – Will you graft-in till you become an expert?
  • Mistakes & Feedback – Can you learn from criticism?
  • Success – Are you inspired by the success of others?

Focusing on these key areas is the foundation layer of your stack.

If you’re stuck in the fixed mindset mode you can’t expect to learn, grow and change. I had (to some extent) a fixed mindset which let to me being surplus in my earlier story. I was too comfortable. I didn’t grasp the opportunities to learn or develop myself further.

A growth mindset on the other hand set’s you up for a challenge. Something which you can work towards and see the benefits day after day.

How do you adjust your mindset?

Let’s start with the below exercise. Read each of the following statements.

See which category you tend to fit into. Are you in a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? You can learn how to change your mindset — it is not written in stone. Take some time to think about this. 

Take your situation and complete the following exercise. Write down your answers.

  • Skills – which key skill are you missing? Just think of one.
  • Challenges – using the key skill identified above, what’s holding you back on learning it? What have you done to try and learn the skill? What can you do differently?
  • Obstacles – Are there any barriers to learning the key skill? What can you do to overcome them?
  • Effort – Why do you feel you have to give up? What’s missing from your approach?
  • Mistakes & Feedback – What can you learn from your mistakes? What will you do differently next time?
  • Success – Find someone with that key skill. Speak to them. Learn from them.

Now that you have your answers, take action! Starting from today, how can you adjust your mindset towards achieving that key skill?

Usman Ul Haq

Usman Ul Haq

I’ve worked for some of the top financial institutions in the UK. I started out as an IT analyst (utility man) but quickly moved to software development. It was during this time that I found I had a knack for business analysis and managed to focus on a specific skill set. I’d describe myself as a Technical BA. But as my colleagues say, I’m BA who can code! Recently I’ve had the pleasure of working in the Middle East to deliver client solutions. This is something I could never have done without learning from my mistakes and focusing on the skills that matter to succeed.