(read time: 4 minutes)
A funny thing starts to happen when we’ve worked at a job for so long. We start to identify with our job title.
For some of us, this is the most amazing thing about our lives. For others, it’s the worst part.
We have been programmed by society to identify with our roles. Often the first question that comes up amongst strangers is what do you do?
Whats the problem?
It’s great to be excited about what you do. If what you do gives you great joy and energy, you are way ahead of the vast majority.
The danger is when you identify with your job title. It’s when you believe “I am (insert job title) and this means I am smart, important, and successful. The trouble is when your title makes you feel like a “somebody”.
Why you ask? Life has its ups and downs, it’s twists and turns. If you’re somebody when you’re successful, who are you when you’re unsuccessful?
We should never let any one job define us. The problem I am addressing here really comes down to maintaining the right mindset. If you’ve read my last few posts, I’ve been raving about a book called “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. In it she discusses two mindsets we can adopt. The first is called a fixed mindset. This is when you believe that your traits, like intelligence or ability are fixed. The fixed mindset creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. Believing intelligence is fixed (the belief that your intelligence is something that you can’t change very much), drives people with the fixed mindset to prove they have a healthy dose of it.
The second mindset is called the growth mindset. People with the growth mindset believe that traits like intelligence are not fixed and that they always have the ability to develop their traits.
Which mindset is best? What is the trouble with the fixed mindset?
In short, people with the fixed mindset consider every experience, an evaluation of their competence and worth. When things come easy to them and they are successful, they feel great about themselves. The downside to this however is that when people believe in fixed traits they are always in danger of being measured by failure.
How can we fix this?
Since people with the growth mindset believe that a person’s ability can be developed, the possibilities for this person are endless. They tend to be passionate about stretching themselves. The interesting thing is that they stretch themselves even when things aren’t going well. This allows them to grow and thrive during challenging experiences.
People with the growth mindset are able to cope with failure because instead of allowing it to define them and paralyze them they interpret it as a learning experience. As Carol Dweck puts it “In one world, failure is about having a set back, getting a bad grade, loosing a tournament, getting fired, or getting rejected. In the other world, failure is about not growing, not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.”
People with the growth mindset don’t identify with a title because they are constantly developing. They are the lawyers who run ultra marathons or the “housewives” who become entrepreneurs. They are the waitresses working on presidential campaigns and the models who code. What they do, who they are, doesn’t quite fit in a box.
They have a deep desire for learning. They have a deep desire for growth. They are attracted to new experiences and challenges. They are so many things outside of their job.
So, which mindset do you have? I encourage you to open your mind.
What are your hobbies?
How do you spend your extra time?
What personal projects, if any are you working on?
How do you show up in you community, family, or country?
What subjects outside of work interest you? What topics do you like to read or learn about?
What subjects are you able to teach others about?
You are not your job title!