09/08/2016 12:51 EDT | Updated 09/08/2016 12:51 EDT

Mum Was Right All Along: Just Try Your Best


My mother has always been a pint-sized ball of optimistic energy, something that served her well in her career as a nurse and as a mother of four. You can imagine how busy her days were, particularly when she was at home taking care of the four of us, all younger than age six, without the help of nannies or cleaning services.

Mum was never too busy, though, when we needed her encouragement. With her optimistic outlook, she always made us feel like we could do or be anything.

Whatever it was we were trying to do as we grew up -- a math test, a soccer game, a school play -- my mother helped us to see the art of the possible. No matter what the challenge, mum would always say, "Your father and I are proud of you no matter the outcome, as long as you just try your best." With these simple words, Mum liberated us from the fear of failure, enabling us to reach our goals. What a gift!

I didn't realize it back then, but I've come to see that "just try your best" is actually a powerful concept in today's business world. In fact, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has built a career helping business leaders understand the power of a growth mindset. In her research, Dweck found that a person with a growth mindset -- where he or she believes their potential is unlimited -- is more likely to achieve success than someone with a fixed mindset.

As business leaders, we need to help to foster a growth mindset culture within our organizations to build success. We can do that through a three-step process.

Optimism in the face of failure, and the perseverance to try again, are the hallmarks of success.

First, we need to focus on our people: find out what motivates them and find out what they want to achieve in their careers. We can do this by spending time with them and listening -- really listening -- to their hopes and dreams and asking them lots of questions. Ideally, we should help them record their career aspirations in a professional development plan.

The second step is to find opportunities for our people to stretch themselves. Simply attending some seminar or course won't help them get to the next level -- they need the trials and tribulations of on-the-job experiences. Many of these experiences will feel like baptism by fire, but anyone who has been through them will, in time, see that they were the most valuable. As a leader, you need to think innovatively about finding those stretch opportunities, which can be cross-functional or even in another geography.

The last step is to celebrate mistakes. Many organizations forget this or feel that they can't support mistakes, but that is short sighted. We all need to embrace our mistakes, dissect them, and learn from them to make ourselves even better than we were before. But remember, tear apart the mistake, not the person. It's alright to fail -- it's not alright to not try your best. Optimism in the face of failure, and the perseverance to try again, are the hallmarks of success.

Now that I am a mother, I find myself reaching back to what my mum taught me, especially when I'm coaching my daughter's soccer team. If you have ever watched six-year-olds play soccer, you'll know it's a bit like a flash mob chasing a ball around the field. During one half-time pep talk, I was struggling to motivate the girls, who are too young to really play positions or understand game strategy. As the whistle blew to start the second half, I remembered the best recipe for soccer success and told them "Girls, no matter what -- just keep kicking, just keep running, and just keep trying your best."

Kelly Brown is Chief People, Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer at MolsonCoors.

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