It is what it is.
That’s a statement Jerry Seinfeld says he hates. It means nothing and suggests that there’s no solution or option to make things better. It’s also what Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset” in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
People with a fixed mindset constantly reinforce their belief that intelligence is static like a computer with a limited capability – like an old Commodore 64. They need to prove over and over that they are the smartest person in the room…even when they’re not. This means they tend to avoid challenges perceived as greater than they can handle. They give up early when they hit obstacles and see extra effort as futile or potentially leading to failure and embarrassment. In the process, they reject, push back, or ignore useful negative feedback that could help. They choose not to learn, to improve, to grow. It is what it is.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is malleable, a work in progress, always getting stronger. They love to learn. They see challenges as opportunities, obstacles as temporary inconveniences and efforts as the way to mastery. They use feedback and criticism to make positive changes. They expect good things to happen and for them, they usually do.
It’s unlikely that you are firmly in one camp or the other, but if you imagine a continuum, you are somewhere on it leaning one way or the other. What does that mean for how you deal with succession or selling your business?
You could think: “My business is what it is. It’s worth what it’s worth. There’s only one way to sell my business. I can’t change it. My employees will never change. If I try, they’ll just push back or laugh at me.”
Or you could think: “My business is on the cusp of a big breakthrough – we have plans for growth and are implementing them. Today it’s only worth X but if I work at it, I could double or triple the value over the next few years. With the right help I could identify half a dozen ways to sell this business. I can make a real impact on the outcome of transitioning my business. If I position this right, I can convince my employees to get behind a big push…”
Which mindset do you feel would likely have the greater chance of success? The good news is that Dweck says you can choose your mindset. It’s not locked in. Choose wisely.