There are those times in your life when you read a book that was exactly what you needed. For me, in this case, it was two books, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron.
For those who have not heard about growth-mindset before, it is the belief that all of our abilities can be developed. Everything from personality traits to our intelligence are skills that can be changed with consistent effort. Having a growth-mindset helps to change the way we perceive ourselves and also the way we perceive learning, mistakes, and feedback. When we know that our traits are not fixed, then we no longer feel defined by them. When we do make a mistake or receive negative feedback, we can then welcome it as a learning opportunity rather than a threat or a personal attack. It is an incredible book that was packed with “a-ha” moments and I highly recommend it!
I followed this book up with a lighter read, Chasing Excellence. It was a great follow-up because it was an excellent way to see growth-mindset put into action with respect to coaching. Along with growth-mindset, a core tenet of the book is the pursuit of excellence being a key element of success.
I was most intrigued by Ben’s definition of excellence, that it is “maximizing everything you have in the categories that matter to your long-term goals”. Of course the categories that matter are different depending on what you want to be excellent in, and some can even overlap or contradict another area. But because excellence exists on a spectrum where complacency is at the opposite end and competence is in the middle, we can always be moving towards the excellence end of the spectrum. Chasing excellence is a process, not a destination.
After learning both of these powerful approaches I can see so many areas of my life in which I want to pursue excellence, and that I can by embracing a growth-mindset. I want to be excellent in everything I do in life - I want to be an excellent family member, an excellent partner, an excellent friend, an excellent educator, an excellent coach, an excellent customer, an excellent driver. In everything I do, I want to be the best person I can be in that role, so whenever I approach anything, I try to keep in mind:
- Everything I do is a skill and all skills can be developed.
- What are the things I can maximize to help me be excellent right now?
- What is something that I can do different next time that would make myself the tiniest percentage better than I am right now?
What are some things that you have wanted to be better at? Can you think of things that may help you move towards the excellence end of the spectrum?