Natural Born Communicators?

Delighted to have a guest blogger here today, and one that you’ll likely be seeing more  frequently since she’s Decker’s Executive Vice President, and also happens to be my daughter-in-law. Welcome Kelly Decker.

We’re huge fans of Made To Stick – the home run business best seller by Chip and Dan Heath – partly  because it aligns so beautifully with our own SHARP Principles. So, we LOVE the fact that they’ve got a monthly column in Fast Company.

In the name of sticky ideas, they open the July issue with the following analogy,

Bobby Fischer was playing chess at age 6. Mozart wrote his first symphony at 8. Could it be that Jack Welch was firing direct reports at 9?”

Citing Stanford professor Carol Dweck’s recent book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, they note that it’s not the classic nature vs. nurture issue. Rather, it’s the way you think about this conundrum – whether you’ve got a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. If you’re fixed, you’re just that – you side with nature, and are more reactive than proactive, believing you’re limited because, “that’s just the way it is.” On the other hand, with a growth mind set, you don’t care whether it’s nature or nurture. You’ve got that fantastic forward lean for continuous improvement that we love about great leaders – you’re one who makes it happen (and works hard at it), rather than watches it happen.

So congratulations if you’ve got yourself a team or company chock full of naturally growth-minded individuals. For the rest (and likely majority) of us, here’s the silver lining and the key to Dweck’s research (also see Guy Kawasaki’s post from earlier this year): we might just be able to change other’s mindsets.

Dweck’s research team was able to significantly improve the math grades of a group of junior high students by teaching them growth-minded concepts like “your brain is a muscle that can be developed.” With a small amount of training these kids shifted from a fixed mindset that said “I’m no good at math” to one that said, “I can do it.” – and they did.

That’s precisely our business and how we begin our core programs – our primary objective is to shift our participants’ mindset from thinking, “I stink at public speaking” to “I can talk to any size group at any time.”

Now what?

  1. Know that you’re better than you are. Seeing is believing – record yourself on video, watch it and get feedback!
  2. Don’t beat yourself up. Those with a fixed mindset reinforce the fact that they think they stink by telling themselves, and are less likely to take on future challenges.
  3. Stretch yourself. Get uncomfortable. If you’re feeling out-of-sorts as you try something new, that’s a good thing – it means you’re changing those old, not-so-effective habits into new, more impactful ones. Bert always says, “Each time you ask more of yourself than you think you are able to give and then manage to give it…that’s when you grow.”
  4. Practice! Fellow growth-minder Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm Computing, says, “Whatever the difference between brilliant and average brains, we are all creative. And through practice and study we can enhance our skills and talents.”

You CAN speak confidently in front of others – the first step is knowing it’s a learned skill. Then, it takes conscious effort to practice those new skills – but when you do, you’ll get the job, close the deal, get the budget passed, and lead with excellence.

3 comments on “Natural Born Communicators?

  1. Read the Last Paragraph

    Gifted presenters are born! There is no way that I will be as good as she is.I must admit during quiet times those thoughts have gone through my head. The trick is to squash them like a bug.

  2. Read the Last Paragraph

    Gifted presenters are born! There is no way that I will be as good as she is.I must admit during quiet times those thoughts have gone through my head. The trick is to squash them like a bug. Kelly Decker,

  3. Thanks for posting this. I found Carol Dweck’s research fascinating when I first read about it, but have not yet read her book. It’s another great concept to apply to public speaking coaching and training.
    It’s a shame that so many “fixed” mindsets are then reinforced by bad teachers and misled parents.