Effort not outcome

If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly

Last time, I wrote about Carol Dweck and the fantastic work she’s done on mindsets – most importantly on why having a “growth mindset” is so much better than being held back by a “fixed mindset.

Social media is practically the perfect example of why growth mindsets matter.  So, let’s get down to business, why will adopting the right mindset help you become a better community manager?

First, here are some questions for you.

Are you clever?

Do you mind failing?  Does it scare you?  Do you try to avoid it?

Take a minute to think about those questions.

Now, I’m not here to judge your ability or whether or not you’re clever.  Social media is good, but it’s not good enough (yet) to let me “virtually” assess IQ remotely via a blog post!

I would like to share one of Carol Dweck’s most important messages about failure though.

“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”

Now, that might seem to go against the grain a bit.  After all, I probably wasn’t the only one who grew up hearing their parents say, “if a job’s worth doing… it’s worth doing well”.

That phrase could actually do with getting a facelift.  Really, it’s about doing your best.  If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth giving it your all, your maximum effort.  Taken in that context, I wholeheartedly agree.

What’s interesting is that it often gets distorted so that people don’t set out to do something, or embark on something new, unless they think that they’re pretty likely to succeed.

And in that context, I disagree.  A lot.

Think about anything you’re good at.  The chances are it hasn’t always been that way.  People have to learn, people have to make mistakes.

We all know this, but we all forget it every day too.  What ends up happening is we have an idea for a Twitter campaign or a new community feature and we start worrying about what might happen if it DOESN’T work.  How we might look stupid if it fails.

Good community managers don’t waste time on these fixed mindsets.  They don’t get paralysed by fear about what MIGHT happen.  They just go out there and do it instead.

If you launch an online community and no-one comes, do you know what? You’ve learnt something.

You’ve actually learnt a lot.  And every time you do something you’re getting better and better as a person, as someone with a “growth mindset” who believes in the power to change people, circumstances and… business results.

So actually, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth having a go and doing a really bad job… just so long as you learn along the way and can do a better job next time.

I was really pleased to connect with Garick Chan a few weeks ago.  He’s a community manager out there doing his thing for a business called Nimble (check them out) and he took the time to call me out on a post I’d written about the essential skills of a community manager.

Garick said that what was missing was the whole analysis piece, the role of the community manager to know what’s working and what isn’t and tweak things.  He was right and it’s also those skills which are the nuts and bolts of a growth mindset.

So, what did you answer when I asked if you were clever?

Have you told a child recently that they’re really clever?

If so, you might want to consider scaling back on your praise – or at least making it a bit more directed.

In Dweck’s experiments, kids that are praised for “effort” rather than “outcome” – i.e. how hard they’ve tried rather than whether they’ve succeeded, go on to be keen to try harder and harder tests and puzzles.  Being praised for their effort gives them the confidence to try bigger challenges, because they know that it’s the trying that counts, that failing at one task doesn’t make them a failure.

On the other hand, kids praised for cleverness actually performed worse the next time they did an identical test.  What’s more, they wanted to do easier and easier tasks each time because the more time went on, the more scared they were getting about failure.  They were building a comfort zone and sticking firmly within in.

If you’re a community manager, you’ll know all about comfort zones and busting through them already.  If you employ a community manager, try and praise them for effort.  Help cultivate their growth mindset and who knows where it will take you…

Next time… more on mindsets in corporate cultures but in the meantime if you want to know more about the effect of praise, try this video.

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2 Responses to Effort not outcome

  1. Pingback: Keeping up with the Jones’ | Get Sponge Blog

  2. Pingback: #cmgr Q&A with Garick Chan | Get Sponge Blog

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