On the second day of my job as an engineering co-op with United Airlines in 1992, I attended the 40th anniversary celebration of an employee whom I will call Dan. Dan had been a mechanic at the airline specializing in engine maintenance. He was a quick learner and shortly after he started, he mastered the piston engine that was on many airliners of the era. And over the years he reinvented himself and mastered the turboprop, the turbofan and the turbojet engines. I bet if United Airlines ever bought a plane with a scramjet – this mechanic would have reinvented himself again as the best scramjet repairer in the business. Forty years hence he was going strong and was happily looking forward to working on the massive new engines that were then slated to come out for Boeing 777 in a few years.
I have always wondered why certain people don’t get fazed by changing technology and platforms, while others having mastered something, hug it dearly and never want to let go. While Dan reskilled and reinvented himself many times over, many of us struggle to adapt to changes. We all know people that have had a hard time parting with their servers and moving to the cloud, and others who can’t seem to get the rhythm of agile programming and cling to the known and perhaps safe waterfall approach.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, in his book Hit Refresh, talks about organizations that value and promote a fixed and rigid mindset. Each employee must prove to everyone that that he or she knows it all and is the smartest person in the room. In such environments, it is understandable that mastery of a technology, or methodology or software package can be the pathway to corporate success.
In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Professor Carol Dweck posits that our brains are quite malleable and can easily shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset with the right type of organizational support. An organization that supports and recognizes that taking on new challenges will at times be a struggle; and that is not a reflection of low-ability but a part of growing and learning.
We at XtremeLabs believe that there is an emerging economy based on the growth mindset and on learning – we like to call it the Learn It All Economy. Learning and growth will not be in phases (2-year vocational training or 4-year high education) but will be constant and throughout our career and beyond. In the learning economy, we will shift from the know it all mindset to the growth focused learn it all mindset.
We are building and delivering innovative products and services that power the learn it all economy. Our hands-on labs offering today gives hundreds of thousands of learners around the world the ability to gain new skills through real world interaction with technology and provides instant feedback on how their learning is progressing. So, whether you are a person striving to gain new skills in Baku or Bali, Valetta or Valencia, our labs platform is a safe place to struggle, learn and master!
Written by: Ahmar Abbas, CEO of XtremeLabs LLC