Career progression is a blend of perspiration and aspiration. It is not rocket science that persistence plus perseverance mold competitive specialists. However, for many professionals who have both those qualities, moving up the career ladder can still be stalled by a set of personal insecurities and self-imposed limitations. They are resolutely climbing forward, then see a broken rung, feel demotivated, and slowly fall backward — where they could have continued their climb through other means.
This is often the situation when a professional possesses impressive skills, leadership potential, and a solid reputation amongst colleagues. Yet, despite this seemingly full package, the individual gets no promotion, tangible recognition, and actual leadership opportunities in more senior or new managerial roles. And whenever they register insufficient progress or even a surmountable obstacle, they become discouraged, stagnating at best or regressing at worst.
The problem of such professionals is a fixed mindset. Precisely, a mindset fixed on failures, excusable human errors they make, and external hindrances. Once they have to deal with it, their motivation to move forward fades. Noteworthy, women are particularly prone to mindset limitations, which directly affect their success in the career world. The Gender Barriers Report 2022 by Jobberman Nigeria indicates that about 32% of surveyed Nigerian women believe that being a woman is already a barrier to success in the labor market. The fact that women consider their gender as a barrier itself to fulfilling their career aspirations is a clear indicator of a fixed mindset.
The key solution to this problem is to transition to a growth mindset that turns a moderate specialist into a confident industry leader. A growth mindset is no synonym for toxic positivity with a myopic vision that ignoring all challenges will make them vanish. On the contrary, a growth mindset implies an intentional focus on acknowledging the challenges to face and turning them into growth points.
While expert techniques to nurture a growth mindset demand significant hard work and expand far beyond one article, there are 5 strategies to begin cultivating a growth mindset as a successful career professional you can start implementing immediately:
Maintain work-life success ratio
To keep your mind focused on important things, learn to prioritize and distribute your energy rationally. You can not achieve 100% progress in work and personal life because your capacity is naturally limited, and it is normal. Perfection is a utopia, progression is real. And the struggle for perfection is in our minds. When we can`t be perfect, though we are not supposed to be, we tend to get disappointed in ourselves.
If you accept the fact that you literally can not have it all at the same time, you will untie the knot in your mind that keeps you feeling unfulfilled. Understand what is important to you per time, and ensure that you dedicate enough time to what is a priority for you. I typically advocate for the 60:40 ratio – sometimes, work will require you to dedicate 60% of your time to it while other areas of your life take that 40% back seat. The key is to ensure that you recognize when to switch to 60% in those other areas of life like building personal relationships and an enduring family bond.
Map out your professional growth plan.
You have milestones you are willing to reach in your career in the short and long term. Every new beginning is plagued with many potential setbacks, but if you identify them ahead for each milestone, you will gain an advantage. And when you encounter them, you will be less likely to be discouraged because you are prepared. For instance, if you are going to seek a promotion or pitch yourself for a new leadership position, you may face resistance from your boss. Plan out in advance how you are going to handle it and how many scenarios there can be with your respective reactions.
Revisit the circle of your business associates and life partner.
You must surround yourself with people who encourage your growth. They may not necessarily be high achievers, yet they must support you to progress. Make sure to partner with those, either for personal relationships or business, who desire to push you forward, not keep you stagnant or hold you back. Carefully assess your immediate circle — if there is someone who makes you doubt your abilities and competence, reconsider the extent of your closeness.
Join business communities.
There are always business leaders who have been there before, started from point zero, and initially felt every little step like a stride. Networking with them is a great opportunity to acquire more confidence in yourself and borrow their tips on building a successful career. Consider becoming a part of an exclusive multi-industry community of business leaders regardless of your career level. Even if you are already a senior executive, you can gain a lot from other senior leaders who have different perspectives on professional development and have followed different routes.
Start up your network.
The most effective way to upgrade a skill is to practice it consistently. In this regard, leadership is also a skill. To advance it, your corporate role is hard enough even if you have several direct reports. Think about setting up a thematic community around yourself. It will let you become a leader with a wider area of personal responsibility and measure the impact of your leadership beyond a formal managerial role — a leader is much more than a manager. It can be a mentoring, peer or just a knowledge-sharing network depending on your inclination and expertise, but it has to be convened and led by you. Do you remember the proverb “We rise by lifting others”? We also grow over our limitations when we help others to do so.
About the author
Juliet Okene is a certified life & mindset coach with over two decades of profound experience in corporate HR & stakeholder management, and finance. She is the Founder & Senior Coach at The Growth Club, a thriving closed community for successful business and career professionals; and the current President, TotalEnergies Staff Multipurpose Cooperative Society.