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Weekly 3: Adapting to a new normal

Summary: Grow with your environment. Flex your conviction. Take advantage of a crisis. (~3 min read)

Idea Journal Weekly 3

April 5 · Issue #133 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Grow with your environment. Flex your conviction. Take advantage of a crisis. (~3 min read)

#1. Match your mindset to your environment
Psychologist Carol Dweck says in an interview with the Harvard Business Review that to learn effectively in a dynamic environment, you need a growth mindset.
She notes that people tend to have one of two mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their abilities can’t change. For example, after giving an unsuccessful speech, their reaction is: “I’m just not good at public speaking.” 
The problem with this interpretation is that it can become self-fulfilling – discouraging practice of the skills that would make them better.
On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset believes that their abilities can change over time through coaching, education, and practice. Their reaction to delivering an unsuccessful speech is to try to understand what went wrong and improve.
This mental flexibility is even more important in a changing environment.
As Dweck points out: “this is a time of tremendous change where, like it or not, you’re going to have periods of confusion. Like it or not, you’re going to turn into a novice over and over again. And we need to be comfortable with struggle, not just effort, but struggle, confusion.”
Dweck writes in her book Mindset that a key step in developing a growth mindset is understanding your current tendencies.
She offers the following exercise to help you gauge whether your mindset is fixed or flexible. 
Read the four statements below, and for each one decide whether you mostly agree or mostly disagree: 
1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit. 
4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.
Statements 1 and 2 reflect a fixed mindset, and 3 and 4 reflect a growth mindset.
Which mindset did you agree with more?
#2. Flexible conviction
In an interview with author Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreesen explains what he means by the phrase “strong views, loosely held.“
Andreesen argues that most people go through life and never develop strong views on issues. They simply go along with the consensus.
But as a founder or investor, you want to look for things that are different than the consensus: “something very much opposed to conventional wisdom.” 
If you then start a company or make an investment based on this unconventional view, you’ll need to have strong conviction because you’re making a big bet of time or money (or both).
Yet your conviction can’t be rigid.
As Andreesen puts it: “What happens when the world changes?”
#3. Never let a crisis go to waste
Authors Lauren McCann and Gabriel Weinberg write in their book Super Thinking that when you see something change in the world around you, ask what new opportunities might open up as a result.
Their technique is to ask: “Now what?”
Sweeping changes can happen in the wake of a crisis – whether personal, political, organizational, or technological.
McCann and Weinberg reference the politician Rahm Emanual’s perspective: “You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.“
Other Weekly 3 issues about being adaptable
Quote of the Week
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
- Playwright and political activist George Bernard Shaw in his book Maxims for Revolutionists, published in 1903
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