During one of my workouts with Bill, my trainer, I was having trouble with something. I said, “Let’s do it again. I’m too stubborn to give up.” I was talking about doing leg lifts or some such. He said, “You’re the good kind of stubborn, the kind of person who grows from your stubbornness, not the kind who shrinks.”
He perfectly captured the growth mindset in Carol Dweck’s Mindset. Dweck says
… passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.
We’re not always like this. At least, I’m not. There are times when it’s not worth persevering. Last May, before my knee replacement, I took a dance class, and the pain was so great, I decided to stop dancing a month before my surgery. I’d like to think that was intelligent, to stop inflicting any more damage onto my poor knee.
I meet a lot of project teams professionally who don’t know the answer to that question. They stick with their current approach for too long, without asking for help. If they are in an agile transition, they “make do” without training, without a coach, without books, and then wonder why agile doesn’t work for them.
I meet a lot of people in their job search who don’t know the answer to that question, either. They don’t get feedback on their resume, don’t seek out the networking support groups, don’t consider recruiters or alternative networking approaches.
I meet hiring managers who “can’t find anyone.” When I ask them about how they source candidates, or their interview questions, or even their auditions, nothing is contemporary, and nothing is congruent with their organization. The fact that they have anyone working there at all is astonishing.
When do you stick with what’s not working and when do you change? When does your stubbornness work for you and when doesn’t it?
That is the big question. For me, it’s when I see more possibilities, not fewer. When I can overcome more problem constraints, being stubborn is good. When I can see more success by being stubborn now, that’s good. When I have a transforming idea, and I need to practice the change, my stubbornness is good.
When I see fewer possibilities, my stubbornness is at the least, questionable. If I continue doing what I’ve been doing, why do I expect anything to change? Remember Change is Inevitable? The only time change is not inevitable is if we are stuck in Old Status Quo and do not allow ourselves to change. If you are in a position where you see fewer and fewer possibilities, consider if you are stuck in Old Status Quo. Then ask yourself if you would like to be there. If so, fine. If not, change your stubborn.
You don’t have to exhibit the growth mindset for everything in your life. If not, think about the places you do want the growth mindset and grow those areas. If nothing else, ask yourself: Which kind of stubborn are you today?