Mind Our Mindsets … Move the World

The economy. Gas prices. Housing. Credit crisis. Healthcare. Education. War. Terrorism.

Yes. We face significant problems.

Albert Einstein once stated that,

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”

An adaptation of this comment produced as a bumper sticker subtly personalized and criticized some of those in modern society with this question:

“Can the problems we face be solved by the same minds that created them?”

Einstein’s comment is the more tactful; the bumper sticker is more pointed. Both direct the needs for solution to the quality and depth of thinking.

The answers?

Mastering Mindsets

Since almost all thinking is conditioned by various predispositions and diverse subjective factors, it may be useful to also think about “mindsets” rather than just minds, or thinking processes. While knowledge, skill, intelligence and other mind-oriented attributes are key assets and requirements toward all success, the true “masterminds” may be those who also master their mindsets.

The positive, optimistic attitudes are key hallmarks of the “can do, will do” mindset that is essential to, and absolutely necessary for, all high achievement in every endeavor or pursuit. Such mindsets not only help to gain achievement, but they also help to enlarge and imagine new possibilities and opportunities.

It’s a Force—Good and Bad

Mindsets are more than just an attribute—they’re also an energizing and directing force. But, depending on the bent of one’s mindset, it can also be a demoralizing and limiting factor. So powerful is mindset that it might be said that mindsets move minds. Perhaps without overstating this point, it might even be said that mindsets manage minds.

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. In her seminal book, “Mindsets: The New Psychology of Success,” she identifies two basic types of mindsets.

People with a fixed mindset (those who believe their intelligence is fixed) prefer to do things that will make them look smart and that will shore up their image instead of things that can stretch them and help them increase their skills. This is true even when they might badly need those new skills.

People with a growth mindset (those who believe their abilities can be cultivated) are highly eager to learn, even if it means that they will make mistakes and expose their deficiencies.

A “Growth Mindset is a critical element of success—in life or business.

“Learning is not compulsory … neither is survival.”  – W. Edwards Deming

Learn. Learn. Learn.

But in your learning, be precise.

Precision Mindsets

As we travel in any modern airliner, we may suspect, but not sensibly realize, that we may be often, if not perhaps always, slightly off course. But, the navigation systems in calculus-like ways are regularly adjusting the course, in minute steps, as frequently as is needed to have the airplane travel and land almost precisely as intended safely at its destination. But the aircraft does not land with perfect precision. Rather, it lands as precisely as is necessary. This idea that providing solutions, or systems that operate to the degree of perfection that is necessary, is an important one to consider.

But, however difficult it may be to measure and monitor all of these effects, still the requirement for the varying degrees of precision and perfection demanded from the products and services offered can usually be quite accurately determined. In some cases, with which many of us are very familiar, such as the quality and reliability of the mission-critical software that Cincom offers, we realize that the degree of perfection necessary is very high indeed.

Pursuit of Perfection

This need for virtual perfection in our software development, testing, quality assurance and other software-perfecting processes is all the more challenging when one considers the great variety of usage environments, and the almost unlimited interactions of user transactions and application processes. In many ways, living and life are just like the perfection of software. We can never test, and thus quality assure, for every one of the virtually infinite number of possibilities or variables. One can never be certain, nor in complete control of all that may happen.

Still, no matter how complex the problems our software must solve, and how infinitely variable their needs may be, customers want virtually perfect reliability and accuracy. Life too is similar. No matter how unpredictable or challenging the times and the uncertainties may be, we are called upon to cope and respond in the many ways that produce the best possible outcomes for all involved—whether directly or indirectly.

Our Mindset

Whatever job one may have, product one may create or service one may deliver, our mindset should be the “pursuit of perfection—that can lead to a perfect customer experience in business—and in life, lead to a fulfilling and meaningful existence.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

No software system, or any product or service, can ever be considered to be absolutely perfect. So we tend to pursue such perfection in incremental steps that enable us to deliver systems that are as precise as they need to be, remember:

No product is perfect.

No service is perfect.

No business is perfect.

No person is perfect.

But all can pursue, with a determined and focused mindset, perfection, and by doing so, everyone will be the better for it.

One thing is certain. Along the way, mistakes will be made. Yes. Absolutely. But that’s ok.

“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” – Tallulah Bankhead

Make our mistakes—sooner. Learn from them and improve.

But We Still Face Significant Problems

Yes, we do.

The economy. Gas prices. Housing. Credit crisis. Healthcare. Education. War. Terrorism.

What are we waiting for? Problems can’t be fixed by the thinking that created them. But new thinking, imagination, guts, innovations and bold, brave ideas can.

“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Only engage, and the mind grows heated.

Begin it, and the work will be completed.

Begin it now.” – Gothe

Mastery of the world, its problems, its difficulties, begins with mastery of each one’s own self.

Mind our Mindsets.

Now let’s go forward together to move the world, to become the better place it can and should be for all of us.


Flickr photo # 1 courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/acbo/2073367106/sizes/m/

About the Author

Thomas M. Nies is the founder and CEO of Cincom Systems, Inc. The longest actively serving CEO in the computer industry, Nies was recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 as "the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit of American business." In 1992, British Prime Minister Edward Heath honored Nies for Cincom's role in bringing the software industry to England. In 1995, he was profiled by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the "pioneers of the software industry," alongside other industry giants such as Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Larry Ellison (Oracle). In 2004, Ernst & Young inducted Nies into its Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame. In 2005, along with the CEO of Adobe, Nies won the International Stevie Award for Best Executive in the International Business Awards—"the business world's own Oscars," according to the New York Post. In 2005, Nies also received the University of Cincinnati Lifetime Achievement award and in 2006, was named as one of the Top Ten IT Visionaries by START-IT magazine. In 2008, Tom and Cincom were featured in a Harvard Business School Study. Email Tom Nies: Tnies@cincom.com

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