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Give yourself a second score

You may be familiar with the growth versus fixed mindset idea pioneered by Carol Dweck in Mindset.

fixed mindset is the belief that your qualities are set in stone. You had trouble in math class in third grade, and as a result, you’re just not good at math.

growth mindset to quote Dweck, “…is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” Sure, you weren’t great at math in third grade, but if you focus your efforts on improving, you’ll improve in fourth grade.

I’m a huge proponent of the growth mindset. It’s pivotal for success. Until recently, I wasn’t able to pinpoint tactics to encourage a growth mindset though. The concept of a “second score” was brought to my attention in Thanks for the Feedback.

Let’s imagine you take on a big project at work. After a month of work, you deliver the results to your boss awaiting a pat on the back. Much to your surprise, she hates it.

You have two potential responses:

  1. Assume that you are ill-suited for leading this project. You knew it from the start anyway. You were never good at leading, and it was a mistake to take this on in the first place. You’ll never make that mistake again.
  2. Say, “Wow, that’s surprising to hear. Can you let me know where I fell short so I can correct the mistakes and get back on track?” Sure, you muffed this first attempt. But you’re confident you can learn from the failure and turn this around.

We often fixate on the first score—delivering the perfect widget that meets all expectations. Failure, in that instance, is discouraging.

Don’t fumble the first attempt on purpose, but make the second score part of your identity. When faced with failure, your natural reaction is not to think “I suck.” You think (to quote Thanks for the Feedback), “I don’t always succeed, but I take an honest shot at figuring out what there is to learn from the failure.”

In so many cases, the second score is what ends up counting.

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