How much time and money would you spend to become a better person?
One of the fundamental differences between successful people and unsuccessful people is their willingness to invest in themselves.
I’m using the word successful holistically to mean people who are happy and high functioning in their chosen areas of endeavor, be it work, parenting, financial success, or mastering the viola.
Here’s what I observe: Successful people invest time and money developing themselves. They improve their situation by improving themselves. Less successful people don’t seek out personal growth. For those people, training is punitive, something you resort to when you’re at the end of your rope.
Attitudes towards investing in self-development often vary by topic. The person who happily pays a tennis pro might be the same person who wouldn’t dream of paying for a parenting class. Which is kind of bizarre when you consider the payoff for being good at tennis versus being good at parenting.
Early in my career, I was fortunate to work for an organization (Procter & Gamble) that believed in training. The ethos was: We hire the best. We spend time and money training you because we believe in your potential.
Years later I discovered, not everyone gets excited about training. A client of mine, The Director of Training for a large firm, sent out a memo to 16 people telling them they had been selected for a special training program.
Half the people responded, “Great I’m so excited I was chosen.” The other half called up my client concerned. They wanted to know what the problem was. One of them said, “Did my boss say there was a performance issue?”
These two opposite responses illustrate Mindset. Mindset is the groundbreaking idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in her decades of research on achievement and success.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. Dweck’s research reveals: The fixed mindset people are wrong.
People with a fixed mindset tend to resist training, because they believe they can’t change. Ironically enough, the more important the subject, the more likely they are to dig in. Which explains why poor leaders resist coaching and poor parents poo-poo seminars.
In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Dweck demonstrates how teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It also enhances relationships.
Dweck says, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”
In reality, when we admire someone who is a great parent, or a super successful entrepreneur, or a successful in any other meaningful endeavor, we’re likely looking at someone who invests time, and probably money getting themselves there.
Which circles us back to the central question, how much time and money are you willing to invest to become a better version of you?