Einstein was a retard as a child. Tolstoy was considered nothing special. The great mathematician Pascal was homeschooled and forbidden to study math until the age of 15.
What does this have to do with me and my startup? You ask. Everything! Let me explain. There are two mindsets that people have in this world. The fixed mindset and the flexible mindset.
A person that has a fixed mindset believes that the qualities that they are born with are the qualities that they will die with. That they cannot change their qualities, cannot change their minds, and can’t really “grow”. You will hear the following from them: “Why go to that training, I already know everything”, “There’s no need for me to review where I am, since people don’t change”, “I can’t start a company, I wasn’t accepted into Harvard”, “I’m not a people person, I work better with systems” or “We need the entire system built, all marketing printed and 100 people hired before we can even launch private Alpha.”
Somebody with a flexible mindset believes that where they are at is only the beginning. That everybody had to start somewhere and that there’s a lot of room for development, improvement and growth. They believe that IQ, personality, and everything else about them can be changed, bettered or improved by training, studying, experience, and other ways. They like to get started with anything and build on it, improve it, get feedback and change it. They like to “throw something up and see what happens”. For them acting as a CEO, marketing director, programmer and toilet cleaner at their new company is “A OK”.
Imagine that when people were born all of their qualities came in a box. The fixed mindset people would have two inch steel cased box that could never be opened and changed, but they could “pimp out” on the outside. The flexible mindset people would say “What box?” and quickly start to evaluate what they have now and start to hack something better out of it.
One big area where the fixed mindset differs from the flexible mindset is with dealing with setbacks and failure. The fixed mindset people think that if they take on a task and they fail, that their entire lives are failures, that the end of the world is near and they would put themselves down and draw up negative generalities about themselves. The flexible mindset people would see a setback as a very temporary thing, they figure out what went wrong, how to fix it and how to improve on it and use it a stepping stone to something bigger.
Fixed mindset people would never start a company unless they were sure to be a success (they would buy a proven system like McDonalds). It is something that would go against their core believes to start something that is not a guaranteed.
People that want to start up companies or lead a startup type of life tend to be people that have the flexible mindset. They know that it will not always be smooth sailing; that they will have stop, go back and regroup and launch again, but to them this is fun. Sometimes (like Flickr) they scrap their initial idea entirely and adapt something new, other times the end product ends up looking 10% like what it was first initially envisioned by the founders.
Summary: As Einstein and others are examples, nobody can forecast the potential of anybody else. It would be benefitial to understand what mindset you have and be able to recognize the mindsets of others. This way you can continue as you are or change, at least it’ll be a concious decision.
Oh, and Noah has a flexible mind. What is your type?