This summer we enjoyed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and one thing that never fails to impress me when I’m watching these games is the mindset of the competitors. With rare exception, they are dedicated to making the most of their moment and smashing through terrific physical and mental barriers to compete at their best level and win.
Mindset isn’t exclusive to the world’s top sports competitors. It’s something we all need so that we can get through our days both at home and at work and be satisfied that we did our best and achieved something: it makes all the difference, not only to how we approach life’s many challenges but also to our wellbeing, to how we feel about ourselves whenever we ‘win’ or ‘fail’ at something.
In a retailing environment the ‘win’ may be a high ticket sale you made with a customer who wasn’t even thinking of buying anything today but just wanted a bit of advice; it may be a customer who rang up to complain and you turned them around, left them feeling delighted that you quickly solved their issue. Or it may be that you negotiated a great deal with your supplier that suited the both of you and which launched a new relationship focused on growing both your businesses.
The ‘fail’ would be the opposite: the customer who didn’t buy from you, the complainer who decided to take things further, the supplier rep who left empty-handed without an order after an hour’s discussion over nothing. Whilst it’s easy to accept that ‘these things just happen sometimes’ and move on, the harder, more noble action is to do something about it, particularly if these ‘fails’ are occurring frequently and the business is stagnant.
In our training we highlight the differences between a positive ‘growth’ mindset and a more negative ‘fixed’ mindset. The first of these is one which accepts challenges, embraces change and is dedicated to growing your skillset in order to be adaptable and more successful. A growth mindset accepts that your skills can be improved and will take onboard ideas and suggestions that provide a positive framework and direction for making those improvements.
People with a growth mindset understand that whilst there are certain things beyond their control – Covid-19, Brexit, the parking in the centre of town, the weather – there are things that they can control – their attitude and approach to customers for example, the presentation of the shop floor, the experience and service they offer – and these are things they can do something about if they really want to evolve the business.
People with a fixed mindset however find the idea of change difficult. Whilst they may recognise that things are not perfect they rarely accept responsibility for their contribution to a catalogue of errors. They often believe that they don’t need to improve, that they are right and everyone else is wrong, and it’s not their fault things aren’t happening – it’s the customer’s fault, or their suppliers’ fault, it’s the internet, their competitors and so on. Worse, people with a fixed mindset are often complacent, and complacency is a killer of business.
If our trainers are in a room full of people with fixed mindsets then we know we’re in for a challenge. The training will seem harder for our trainees because it’ll take longer for them not just to understand why they need to change and how they can do it, but for them to accept our help in the first place. And it’ll take longer for the training to have a positive effect on the business.
But it can happen. It does happen. The first step is to accept that anyone can change, that all of us can be better at what we do, and no matter the enormity of everything stacked against you, you can improve your sales and be better than your competitors. No matter how old your business is, how small or large, or how ‘difficult’ your customers can be, with the right mindset you can compete at the highest level and give yourself every chance of winning those medals.
First, you need to embrace a growth mindset, and there’s only one person who can do that.
Credit - first published in ERT Magazine September 2021 https://www.ertonline.co.uk/