I fall victim to this all the time. If I meet someone new, or am asked to present at a conference the trap is always the same: validate myself by past accomplishments. While there is nothing wrong about sharing what you've done in the past, usually it does not stop there. Usually we define ourselves by what we have accomplished, instead of who we are in that moment, and who we want to become.
Defining yourself by what you've done causes two major problems.
- It tempts people to live their life trying to build a resume they would like to share, and many times embellishing that "list" of accomplishments.
- It forces people to live with a "fixed-mindset" instead of a "growth-mindset". Constantly worried about proving themselves instead of improving themselves.
Let's first look at #1. It is a fact of life that resumes do matter. Unless you are starting a business from scratch with no outside funding, a resume plays a part in getting into college, an internship, job, salary bump, promotion, and almost anything else having to do with pay.
However, if you look a bit closer, many of the ridiculously successful people in our world never had the "resume" needed to start changing the world. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Mark Cuban. Jay-Z. Barack Obama. Howard Schultz. The list could go on and on with who you are inspired by...
I doubt many of the above people said, "I need to start building my resume before I take the world by storm." Instead they are the type of people that are never satisfied and always believe they can do better.
This leads us to #2. Carol Dweck wrote a fantastic book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, she compares the two mindsets: fixed and growth.
Dweck presented three mindset rules for each mindset. They were as follows:
Someone with a fixed mindset will:
1. Want to look good at all costs
2. Believe that talent should come naturally
3. Hide mistakes and conceal deficiencies
Whereas someone with a growth mindset will:
1. Emphasis learning something new over everything else
2. Believe the harder you work, the better you can become
3. Capitalize on mistakes and confront their own deficiencies
via David Colly
If Dweck's research is holds true, then we all better be very careful. If you find yourself consistently defining yourself by what you've done, take a look at this infographic.
I'm challenging myself to talk about what I'm currently doing in life, and what I want to become in future speaking event and in meeting new people. If anything, it will help me become focused on doing something important right now...and always growing as an individual.