Rachel Stewart has good news for all those who feel like they alone are unqualified to achieve their dreams, we all are.
Positivity makes us feel good, but does it have any power? Author and practitioner Rachel Stewart shares her insights into harnessing the power of the right mindset while pursuing success. Her book, Unqualified Success, is packed with examples from high achievers as well as a uniquely personal story which unfolds throughout the narrative. Rachel provides practical tools for personal development that will empower readers to embrace the journey of bridging the gap from where you are today to where you want to be.
Rachel makes herself approachable as an author. Introducing herself and kicking off the tone of the book with the first line, “I am unqualified to write this book.” By admitting this, she seeks to embrace this truth with those who feel as though they are unqualified and are willing to admit it as the start of their journey. The key is that, “The only qualification to get better: being willing to such when you start (p.180).”
Starting at Zero
At the time of writing this book, Rachel was serving as the Executive Vice President of Titan Restoration in Arizona. She started her career in the world of property damage restoration as a stay at home mother returning to the work force. Titan hired Rachel as an unqualified bookkeeper and office manager. As the company grew, so did Rachel and they found themselves reaching a five year goal in less than half that time.
Check Your Ego at the Door
At a critical point of choosing whether to merge with another company or continue on their own, Titan offers Rachel the opportunity to serve as their general manager. As the professional stakes grew the personal feelings of being unqualified did not diminish. It is in many of these uncomfortable moments of inadequacy that Rachel learns to lean into the reality of being unqualified rather than protecting your ego.
“This book isn’t about ego. In fact, it’s about the exact opposite. I have been highly unqualified for every position that I have ever held. But I have come to learn that we all are. We are all unqualified today for the life we could have tomorrow (p.9).”
From the Trenches
Unqualified Success weaves the stories of names we respect as achievers as well as new characters such as Magno Santos. Magno immigrates from Brazil and the reader is invited to journey with him throughout the book as he pursues the American Dream. Recognizing that we are all unqualified frees us to embrace the process of becoming by changing our perspective. Magno continually propels himself forward in the face of obstacles with the mantra, “If you can know it, I can know it (p.29).”
Change of Perspective
Paradigm shift is easier said than done but by doing so we are able to see that our actions do not create out feelings, our thoughts do. Rachel posits that no one is qualified when it comes down to it. The big secret is, “That having the mindset that you are qualified is the biggest determining factor in whether or not you are qualified (p.25).” Cleaning out your thought closet and taking ownership of your thoughts is key to unlocking your potential.
Change of Expectation
If our self-view is the starting point, the next phase is aligning our expectation. “Too many times we are waiting to arrive before we start (p.48).” Understanding that mastery is a process and practice is the key to pursuit of perfection, we should not discourage ourselves with a defined view of the end. Our battle for becoming is primarily an internal one. The imagery of the two wolves fighting inside each of us presented in Chapter 5 is apt. Which one will win? “The one you feed (p.68).”
Change of Environment
Ordinary people achieve extraordinary things. Greatness is not the exclusive property of the elite. “The willingness to stay in discomfort for extended periods of time is the essence of grit. It also happens to be an essential key to achieving everything you want (p.83).” As Rachel notes, discomfort is a factor both in failure and in success. Discomfort is the currency and working through it is the journey. When we are tested we must resist our numbing agents and lean into the process of testing our limits.
The Big Reveal
Rachel blends a beautiful mix of personal experience, representative stories and practical tools to assist the reader in building a resource base for feeding their growth mindset. She seeks to inspire others to embrace the journey. The book reveals that Magno’s relentless pursuit of bettering himself intersects with Rachel’s family in a very real way when is quality of care lead to an early diagnosis for her father. “Nobody starts out extraordinary. No one begins fully qualified and ready. The minute we understand this principle and it really sinks in, our whole work opens up (p.243).”
Are You Ready to be an Unqualified Success?
If you dare to read this book, you will find that your excuses melt and your obstacles become opportunities. You should feel unqualified but that should in no way stop you from pursing success. “When we are willing to trade in our need to win or succeed for a need to simply learn and grown instead, we open another world of possibility for achievement (p.186).” You are not alone, you have resources and a tribe of fellow unqualified successes rooting for you.
As Jim Collins noted in Good To Great, you need to get the right people on the bus [your organization] and you need to ensure they are in the right seats on the bus. When it is difficult to find people at all, growth minded businesses understand the value of investing in developing internal talent. Investing in the employees you have can produce significant return on investment.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a person in a position of leadership at the helm of a large organization, attracting good talent starts with:
Key to Success: Process
Process. Culture and systems have to be in sync with each other for a company to succeed. While culture is a hot topic, it is more about what an organization does than what it says it will do. It is important for entrepreneurs and leadership teams to review whether their processes are in alignment with their vision. If there are setbacks to growth, a good place to start would be in reviewing the processes that are in place. Developing systems helps to ensure that there is consistency in your organization. Clarifying expectations helps team members to understand what they need to do in order to succeed. Communicating processes that are consistent with the vision enable everyone to see where they can help move things forward.
Key to Success: Production
Production. A company has to produce goods and/or services. Having the right people and processes completes the cycle of needs to ensure an organization will create value through production. Production issues help to reveal shortcomings in processes. Often failure helps us to better see areas we can improve than success does. Be sure to embrace the opportunity to grow as a leader and a team. Production, process and people all work together to create progress. If you are struggling to make progress start to work backwards to determine areas that need to be addressed.
Here is a good resources from EOS on how to trace down issues and establish better meetings:
Key to Success: Progress
Progress. Having the right people, developing your processes and improving production are all keys to success. There is no guarantee for success. There are no short cuts to success. Leaders can learn a lot from gardening on how to cultivate a growing team. In an article published with Restoration and Remediation Magazine, we identified keys to change for withering grass, flowering weeds and crab grass within an organization. Like a flourishing garden, growth in an organization is attractive and creates a sense of pride. If we invest in our people, process and production we will find that progress is much more attainable. As the organization moves forward together it is easier to identify and address areas of the company that need to be adjusted. Progress is not perfection. Progress means we are gaining on our goals.
Developing a growth mindset requires one to read, to pursue knowledge from unfamiliar arenas and to keep pace with changes in the modern context. We had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for Your Career by Amy C. Waninger. Amy asks many key questions, perhaps the most pointed being, “How diverse is your network?” Expanding your perspective will enable you to broaden your network which will unlock pathways to opportunity that you would otherwise miss. Through personal stories and some very practical tools, Amy helps the reader to navigate areas that many are uncomfortable with. Network Beyond Bias is a significant resource for growth minded professionals who want to thrive in the modern economy.
The benefits of reading on broad topics as a growth minded professional
We all know that we should read more, but with so many items competing for our time reading often draws the shortest stick. The benefits of reading have been told to us over and over. Harvard Business Review has a catchy title, For Those Who Want To Lead, Read, in which the author challenges that the history of success is full of, “Business leaders who believed that deep, broad reading cultivated in them the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations.” When selecting content for personal and professional growth, the material we choose should inform, challenge and expand our resource capacity. Author Amy C. Waninger provides an opportunity for those in a position of leadership to broaden their understanding and ability to navigate the complexities of diversity.
The necessity of understanding the modern context as a growth minded professional
While diversity in the workplace is not a new reality, the modern context has brought to light broader perspectives. Amy asks four key questions in the introduction, one of which sticks out as pertinent to any person who wants to develop themselves and their ability to reach their potential in any industry, “Is your professional network as diverse as the workforce and community around you (p.5)?” If we are not aware of where we stand we stand to miss out significantly on opportunities to meet new people, learn new things and open new doors. Networking Beyond Bias helps brings modern topics to light and makes them approachable both by explaining them while sharing personal stories of victory as well as failure. Personal growth starts with a willingness to be a part of the solution and taking time to listen.
The importance of understanding oneself as a growth minded professional
Amy does a good job of walking the reader through confronting unconscious bias as a baseline for opening oneself to embracing diversity. In chapter two we see how our values, sense of self, perception of others and experiences are core to our interactions. “We define ourselves relative to others, and we evaluate others relative to ourselves (p.20).” Operating in this unconscious bias only limits our personal and professional growth. To break this cycle we have to intentionally confront this reality and transform how we think by expanding our information base through networking. Perhaps the two most applicable tools of Network Beyond Bias are two acronyms, first the C.H.A.M.P. network which starts in chapter 11 and the I.G.G.N.O.R.E. test from chapter 32. Networking in this fashion opens yourself to see how many resources you have in your existing circles that can help you develop greater diversity, growth and opportunity.
Developing a diverse network as a growth minded professional starts here and now
Network Beyond Bias creates the case that diversity is the key to unlocking your potential and advancing your ability to navigate the modern economy. “Just as you wouldn’t put all of your financial eggs in one basket, you also need to diversify your professional relationships (p.93).” Whether you need to be convinced that your current network needs to be more diverse or need help in finding ways to expand, the C.H.A.M.P.S. test is a good place to start. This acronym stands for Customer, Hire, Associate, Mentor and Protégé. Chapters 11 through 16 break down these categories with practical insights to help you identify and build a more diverse network. Start with who you are and where you are. If you are willing to confront these two realities then the tools Amy provides in this book will serve to accelerate that process of growth. Opening yourself to new opportunities, asking questions of people you trust and listening have great power in further unlocking your potential.
Awareness leads to understanding and action as a growth minded professional
The sub-title for Network Beyond Bias is Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for your Career. Diversity is a complex issue that extends through many sub categories from the primary segments that we are familiar with in relationship to discrimination such as gender, race, age, ethnicity and religion. Our willingness to understand is directly proportionate to our ability to succeed. “Invest in people and ideas outside your own norms to create opportunities for yourself and others (p.95).” In chapters 17 through 23 Amy walks through these categories with practical insights for professionals at any level. Chapter 21, Gender Identity: A Primer for People Who Just Don’t Get It, goes into greater detail on this topic including a lexicon, questions to avoid and ways to show respect to individuals. Amy shares her vision as well as lessons learned the hard way throughout the book. Even if you set out to understand and impact these issues, you will make mistakes, it’s how we deal with those events that makes an impact on our personal and professional trajectory.
Honest and ongoing assessment is required to continue your success as a growth minded professional
We discussed the C.H.A.M.P. network as the starting point for building a diverse network. In Chapter 32 Amy provides a grid that will help anyone answer the questions, “How diverse is your network?” Once you have your CHAMPs list, we can plug in the data to determine where we stand with regards to diversity by cross referencing with another acronym, I.G.G.N.O.R.E. To expand and develop a diverse network we need to understand where our CHAMPs fit into the categories of Industry, Generation, Gender / Gender Identity, National Origin / Native Language, Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnicity. The final E in IGGNORE is for Exchange, this is where we determine the depth of these relationships. Exchange measures how deep we have shared personal stories with these persons, “Do you know the values, challenges and worldviews that make your CHAMPs who they are (p.198)?” Knowing your network starts the process of being able to expand your network as well as your pathway to long term success.
Growth minded professionals see the value in engaging diversity and inclusion
If you feel like the world is changing, you are correct. One of the few constants is that everything is changing. The rate of change is increasing exponentially. Professionals at every level can lead at any level, which is also the name of Amy’s organization (see more at leadatanylevel.com). This organization, “Promotes in-the-trenches leadership, diversity and inclusion, and career management through mentoring, public speaking engagements, and other offerings.” Understanding the evolution of diversity enables professionals to engage the marketplace and leaders to navigate the workforce with success. Chapter 31 provides Seven Questions for Self-Reflection which should be referenced on a regular basis as well as a guide to Recovering from Honest Mistakes which again includes a personal story from Amy. Network Beyond Bias reminds us to recognize the value to ourselves and others by engaging diversity. In writing this book, Amy has provided a roadmap to personal and professional development through the rewarding subject of workplace inclusion.
Resources for professionals wanting to learn more about diversity and inclusion
1. Review our interview with Amy C. Waninger
2. Invest in a copy of Network Beyond Bias
3. Connect with Amy on social media
4. Follow the Lead At Any Level Blog
To cultivate and maintain a healthy growth mindset, one must continue to listen if success is going to be achieved.
Coach John Wooden, widely respected as one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history thought it was essential that leaders continue to listen and learn. On the paradox of success and listening as a leader, Coach Wooden remarks, “One of the reasons it’s extremely difficult to stay at the top is because once you get there, it is so easy to stop listening and learning.”
We will discuss the dangers of a false sense of accomplishment, how to build real success and the essential nature of listening to developing a growth mindset as a business leader.
A false sense of accomplishment is a growth killer
Many entrepreneurs feel successful but they do not have any hard evidence to support their confidence. Like going to the dentist, they fear collecting financial data and allowing those numbers to tell them the truth. For most business leaders, if they have money to burn then they are successful. Keeping up with the Joneses is the common metric but it is not a true valuation of growth or achievement. Those cultivating a growth mindset understand the value of truth, regardless of how harsh it may be.
Looking successful is not the same as being successful
Achieving a level of success typically creates two extremes, either the extreme of comfort that will quickly lead to business death in the modern economy. The other extreme success can create is the insatiable desire for more at the sacrifice of everything else. Comfort entices us like a warm blanket and then smothers us as we give in to its deception. Businesses are dropping like flies, even large names that our posterity will never remember like Blockbuster . There is no room for comfort in the growth mindset.
Your prior success cannot be your metric for growth
Blockbuster used to be an industry leader and thought to be untouchable, now the only store remaining is in beautiful Bend, Oregon. Not only does their business no longer exist but neither does their industry. Companies like Netflix and Redbox have to be aware that the rate of decline is exponentially faster than it was for Blockbuster. If these new companies do not continue to listen and adapt they will be out of business quicker than Blockbuster’s three decades. A growth mindset will not allow us to rest in our former glory.
How do those developing a growth mindset keep listening a priority?
The growth mindset starts with what comes in through your ears. Growth is a discipline that must be cultivated by allowing the right information to infiltrate your mind as well as educate your perspective. Proverbs says, "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance." If you want to develop a growth mindset as a person in a position of leadership (PIAPOL) then you need to receive good information regardless of where it originates from.
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