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Ten Goals For Developing A Growth Mindset – Part 1 – Growing Yourself

Written by: Prof. Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr., Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


This article is an extension of my previous articles, “Becoming A Strategic Hustler™” and “The Adaptive Mindset," respectively. It discusses the “G," "Growth Mindset," in A.G.I.L.E., recalling this acronym is the first quality of “The Agile Leadership Framework” that requires seasoned and aspiring leaders to become flexible. The contents will begin a two-part high-level discussion on developing a “Growth Mindset.”

Tree growing out of human brain, silhouette illustration on growth mindset.

My motto is “Leaders Are Born to Be Made!" Achieving the responsibility and accountability of becoming a great leader requires character, awareness, courage, and communication. Developing these pillars of outstanding leadership start with individual growth and then translates into leaders who can grow others. This article introduces these goals for developing a growth mindset. As you read and learn from this article, keep this phrase in mind as it was coined from one of the lessons learned from my college Hall-of-Fame football coach:

“Leader of one; Leader of many; If you can’t lead one; you can’t lead any.” ‒ Dr. Frank L. Harper, Jr.

Follow me down memory lane as I elaborate on this phrase. My dad gave me my first lesson in having ideas and setting goals—essential to a growth mindset. I will deal with goals in this article and ideas (dreams) in a separate article. But make no mistake: you cannot have far-reaching goals without generating awe-inspiring ideas. It is a process where dreams become a reality starting with writing them down as goals. Back to my dad, his permission was required for me to go anywhere. He would ask me, "Why are you going? What are you going to do when you get there?" Man, talking about being all up in my business; with him, I had none. If I hesitated in my answer or answered, "I don't know," his answer to my request was, “No.” Eventually, maturity gave me the courage to ask why he would say no. He explained, “God has a purpose for you, so you must have a purpose for yourself. That purpose is your goal for going anywhere or doing anything.” After that speech, he would always say, “Shoot for the universe because if you ever miss, you will be among the stars. You serve a big God, which is his purpose for you!" Reflecting on these words, my dad told me to have those awe-inspiring ideas mentioned earlier. Imagine a teenager hearing those words. My dad was a Southern gentleman with a third-grade education. Still, his instilling in me the importance of setting personal goals was my first lesson in developing a growth mindset to becoming a great leader who stands on the pillars of character, awareness, courage, and communication.

Growth Goal Setting

One of my favorite readings is a book titled Glorious Accidents—How Everyday Americans Create Thriving Companies. Michael J. Glauser, Ph.D., is the author whom I had the pleasure of meeting. As he states, accidents happen, and "glorious accidents" are created! I love the book because it shows how everyday Americans used their ideas to create organizations that have succeeded beyond their wildest imaginations. In every instance, I saw street hustling qualities transformed into strategic hustling ones.

The process is only sometimes well planned, but it isn't random either. My takeaway was ten goals to success which I now coin "Ten Growth Goals To Excellence.” Individual growth to become a leader requires achieving the first six (6) goals: understand the terrain, seize the opportunity, find a mentor, radiate zeal, work with tenacity, and give mind-boggling service. This article will address these goals as “Part 1: Growing Yourself.” Once you have become a leader, your role is to develop others. Great leaders accomplish this by achieving the final four (4) goals: build a team, do more with less, notch it upward and onward, and give back to your community. These are topics covered in “Part 2: Growing Others” in a separate article. The more these goals are present in a business and life, the more the practitioner develops. The following presents snippets of information about each. A detailed discussion of each appears in my book, "A.G.I.L.E. L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. with a G.R.I.P.™: A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY JOURNEY: From street Hustler to Strategic Hustler™.”

Growth Goal No.1: Understand the terrain

Objective: Become educated.

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

United Negro College Fund Scholarship program for black students

Growth happens through the process of education, either traditional or non-traditional. Reflecting on Dr. Glauser’s book and my experiences, entrepreneurs must begin their journey by knowing and understanding the industry or terrain. There is a difference between knowing and understanding. Knowing is the expertise and skill acquired through experiential learning and learning from experience. At the same time, understanding, a deeper level of knowing, is a cognitive process requiring an individual to know or realize the intended meaning or cause of something. There are many avenues seasoned or aspiring leaders take to become heavily involved in the industry or marketplace. Most worked for another company in the same industry; some were serious and frequent consumers of the products or services. These experiences not only sharpen their saw but also exposes them to the products, services, mentors, customers, networks, opportunities, sources of distribution, significant players, strengths, and competitors' weaknesses, to name a few. I call this "putting on your armor." This entire process involves knowing and understanding. The fact is that you cannot create a successful enterprise in a vacuum. I have never met an entrepreneur who quit a job, refused to work for someone else and sat around trying to think up something to do. While it may happen, it does not happen very often.

On the contrary, many of these entrepreneurs were extremely successful in their jobs, well-liked by their companies, and highly regarded in the industry. Being in the thick of the action gave them ideas to contemplate and test while still drawing a paycheck. The higher level of knowing ignited a deeper level of understanding, revealing the missing pieces that led to the ideas that led to new enterprises.

Growth Goal No. 2: Seize the opportunity

Objective: Be prepared and open-minded to exploit an opportunity.

Accomplishing this goal requires achieving the first goal. It would be best if you had the appropriate level of education (knowledge and understanding) to recognize an opportunity. Speaking from being an athlete, scholar, professional, parent, university administrator, professor, investor, entrepreneur, and role model, you must prepare yourself for the spotlight when the right opportunity presents itself. Proper preparation educates, equips, encourages, and empowers you to consider seizing an opportunity. It is deciding to seize it where it pays to be open-minded or have an adaptive mindset.

Seizing an opportunity to earn a favorable return on investment (ROI) in international gold futures (IGF) trading may be a great idea. However, further understanding the risks involved, the market fluctuations (volatility), and the number of funds needed to occupy a capital position that mitigates the market fluctuation risks to be profitable may cause you to decide that the opportunity is not for you. Being adaptive is vital. After all, you may move funds from one investment to the IGF investment to obtain that appropriate capital position because you like the risk-reward odds.

Companies who engage in expansion and business transformation initiatives are prepared and adaptive to seize opportunities from digital transformation projects that:

  1. Automate business processes;

  2. Introduce new technology to the business—i.e., artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, Internet of Things, etc.

  3. Improve customer experience;

  4. Drive efficiency and cut costs;

  5. Change the company’s culture.

Growth Goal No. 3: Find a mentor

Objective: Find an individual who earns your trust, respect, and loyalty.

My storied life as a scholar, athlete, professional, parent, and role model happened with the help of great mentors. My youth league football coach taught me leadership. My high school and college football coach taught me that “Hard work… Works!”

I grew up in an area so heavily burdened by crime that the police labeled it a “Red Zone.” Anything you can think of happened during the ordinary course of the day in “my hood.” I am a first-generation high school and college graduate who was the second oldest of 5 children. All my siblings have served jail time—one for 25 years for a murder he did not commit! Their circumstances forced me into being a role model and legal guardian to 7 nieces and nephews—4 girls and three boys. Being a role model earned me the privilege of being the godfather to 6 girls and four boys. I am an Executive Contributor to a world-renowned magazine, Brainz, because of my mentors. My life and career accomplishments were achieved with the help of caring mentors.

I serve as a mentor to many. So while writing this article, the characteristics of a great mentor that will help you in your quest to find a mentor include:

  • S/he should be an excellent active listener.

  • S/he gives constructive feedback.

  • S/he takes a personal interest in their mentee.

  • S/he radiates zeal about their role in your life.

  • S/he respects diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • S/he are the best leaders; thus, they are skilled teachers.

  • S/he demonstrate responsibility for the person they are mentoring.

  • S/he is non-judgmental.

  • S/he has expertise in a specific field.

  • S/he takes pride in their work.

  • S/he is approachable.

  • S/he is transparent, showing their vulnerability.

Growth Goal No. 4: Radiate zeal

Objective: Be an energizer

When I meet or watch an effective leader, the zeal radiates like a bright sunny day. Zeal is contagious, like the human emotional wave at a football game. One section starts, and you have tens of thousands of people engaged before you know it. Zeal draws people to the idea; it attracts members to the team; it entices customers to buy; it enables an average bunch of folks to beat the more talented teams. Zeal is captivating, infectious, and powerful! I have never seen a new venture get off the ground without a hearty dose of zeal.

The key to success is that you must love what you are doing. A love for the product or service is the source of zeal for many leaders. However, the zeal can be for independence, excellence, accomplishment, and success—not the products or services involved. In my case, I never experienced a pounding pulse to go to a foreign country to become one of its most respected contractors and investors. Still, I longed to create an excellent company that could contribute to the well-being of a third-world country. So zeal needs to be there; when it's not, fledgling entrepreneurs will not have the energy to make it up the steep hills. People naturally pessimistic, overly cautious, excessively critical, or unduly obsessed with numbers can never generate the power necessary to make anything new happen.

Growth Goal No.5: Work with tenacity

Objective: Become a Strategic Hustler™.

For 30 years as a football player and coach, I was a two-time youth league football all-star and champion, a two-time 3-year letterman in high school football and track and city champion, a scholarship walk-on to two different college football programs earning two varsity letters, a professional football free agent. I coached youth and high school football—assisting in winning multiple championships. These experiences taught me resiliency and the motto, “Hard work… Works!” Unbeknownst to me, I was being exposed to a new type of “hustler.” This growth was continuously fueled by a 35-plus year professional career in leadership roles directly or indirectly influencing the governing and managing of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions to “RUN”, “GROW”, OR “TRANSFORM” businesses, governments, and international institutions of higher education with combine revenues ($1T+); budgets ($4B+); generating savings and growth ($10B+); while achieving a 90+% success rate.

My teaching voice and writings have reached over 500,000 professionals and executives in over 65 countries across six continents. During this God blessed journey I was earning two doctorate degrees, two master's degrees, and one bachelor's degree, along with scores of globally recognized professional certifications. The “Strategic Hustler™” was born and created to educate, equip, encourage, and empower others to believe, begin, and become the best version of themselves.

To learn more, please revisit my first Brainz article, “Becoming A Strategic Hustler™ ‒ The Agile Leadership Framework.”

Growth Goal No.6: Provide mind-boggling service

Objective: Become an Adaptive Design Thinker.

The key to leading and managing high-performance, results-oriented, and customer-driven teams that consistently deliver value to the customer is:

  1. Deliver results that exceed expectations

  2. Reinvent yourself

  3. Assimilate into the social culture of the organization

These comprise my “trilogy of success." It is a three-pronged attack plan to keep you relevant throughout your career. The first component deals with results. You have to deliver outstanding results and do it consistently. If you want to be taken seriously and gain credibility, you must deliver solutions the end user cares about! If you can't provide it, the conversation ends. The second component deals with improving your competencies and capabilities. That's just managing your portfolio of skills, making sure you're committed to lifelong learning, and adding things to your skill set that allow creating value for the end user. Each year you have to add something to your marketable game. The third part is what I call behaviors. Organizations are social institutions. How do you interact with your boss? How do you interact with your colleagues? Do you make the workplace a better place to work? Do you add to the organization? You will learn more about "reputation" in later articles covering leadership behaviors, intelligent behavior, and respecting diversity.

Becoming an Adaptive Design Thinker, a discipline around human-centered design provides the tools needed in the new century to deliver mind-boggling service.

Back to the earlier phrase

“Leader of one; Leader of many; If you can’t lead one; you can’t lead any.”

Achieving these goals allows you to become the “Leader of one” to “Lead one.” The second article, “Developing a Growth Mindset Part 2: Growing Others, “ discusses the growth goals of becoming a “Leader of many."

Until then, “all the best to continued success.”

Excerpts from the book: A.G.I.L.E. L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. with a G.R.I.P.: A Twenty-First Century Journey from Street Hustler to Strategic Hustler; available on Amazon, Amazon.India, Createspace, and Pakistan Representatives.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Prof. Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr., Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr. is the founder and world champion of agile leadership concepts. He is President ‒ UBTS International Corp having strategic affiliates in over 55 countries, Provost / Associate Professor ‒ Cambridge Corporate University, having branches in over 25 countries, while serving on for-profit and not-for-profit advisory boards. He is an award-winning IT leader and published author who is adept at influencing and teaching strategic transformations across multiple countries, industries, disciplines, and technologies for businesses having global revenues ($1+ Trillion); savings/growth ($10+ Billion); with budgets ($4+ Billion). His favorite motto is, "Leaders Are Born To Be Made."



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