Utkarsh Narang, Founder, IgnitedNeurons

Utkarsh is a Learning Consultant, Executive Coach, Facilitator and Content Creator based in Melbourne, Australia. Over his 16-year career, from being a physiotherapist and that too a good one, to filming and editing 400 hours of content for a Columbia Business School professor, to scaling a startup and leading sales to now helping individuals and teams outperform themselves, he has learned to make fear his ally in living a courageous life. He has a passion for understanding human behaviour and using his diverse experience in building programs for organisations across the globe.


Have you ever seen an infinity symbol?

I have always been fascinated by this symbol. It shows to me that anything is possible. The human intellect and wisdom know no bounds. It also represents our lives. On one side is the personal and the other side the professional, and at the centre is where we stand.

I love to extract parallels within my personal and professional lives.

When my younger son was growing up, during his first year on this planet, he would fall while learning to walk. He would get up and try again. He would fall again. One time, he hurt his head. It was painful to see that happen. At that moment, did a part of me wanted him to stop learning this skill of walking? Absolutely not. We still wanted him to walk, so we allowed him to try again.

And one day, one fine day, he was walking!

This, in its simplest understanding, is the Growth Mindset. When we are growing up or are seeing our children grow up, we motivate them to learn new skills despite the challenges. Never do we tell them to give up on a skill or be so harsh as to criticise them into giving up.

As a seasoned executive with over two decades of experience navigating the ever-evolving business world, I’ve realised that the key to organisational success lies in our ability to learn. In today’s fast-paced global economy, where disruption is the new norm, embracing a growth mindset has become more critical than ever before.

Understanding the Growth Mindset

Early in my career, I was introduced to the concept of the growth mindset through the groundbreaking work of psychologist Professor Carol Dweck. Her research on the psychology of success struck a chord with me, as I recognised the fundamental difference between individuals with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.

Individuals with a fixed mindset believe their abilities and intelligence are set in stone. In contrast, those with a growth mindset see them as malleable and capable of being developed through deliberate action, feedback, dedication and hard work. This simple yet profound distinction has significant implications for how we approach challenges, setbacks, and opportunities for growth.

The Importance of a Growth Mindset in Organisational Growth

Throughout my squiggly career (a story for another day!), I witnessed the power of a growth mindset in driving individual and organisational success. I am a trained physical therapist (with a Masters’ in Orthopedic Physical Therapy) but that is not a career I practice. I have self-learned my way through video production, operations, sales and now as a coach and learning consultant.

Google is a company that has consistently ranked among the most innovative and sought-after employers in the world. Google’s success can be attributed, in part, to its commitment to fostering a culture of continuous learning and experimentation. Employees are encouraged to take risks, learn from failures, and collaborate across teams to drive innovation. This growth mindset has enabled Google to stay ahead of the curve in an industry known for its rapid pace of change.

Studies have consistently shown that companies that embrace a growth mindset are better equipped to navigate challenging times and emerge stronger. One compelling study by Caniëls, Semeijn, and Renders (2018) found that a growth mindset enhances workplace engagement and employee productivity. This aligns with my own experience, where I’ve seen how a growth mindset fosters a culture of continuous learning, collaboration, and innovation.

Another inspiring example is Amazon, a company that has revolutionised the retail industry through its relentless focus on customer obsession and innovation. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has been a vocal advocate of the growth mindset, emphasising the importance of embracing failure as a necessary step towards success.

“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate,” Bezos once said. “If you’ve got a business model where you’re only happy when you’re right, you’re not going to experiment enough.”

Challenges in Promoting a Growth Mindset

While the benefits of a growth mindset are clear, promoting and maintaining such a mindset within an organisation can be challenging. As a leader, I’ve faced my fair share of obstacles in creating a culture that values learning, experimentation, and continuous improvement.

  1. Overcoming Fear of Failure – It is one of the biggest challenges in promoting a growth mindset. In many organisations, failure is seen as a taboo, something to be avoided at all costs. However, as Bezos pointed out, embracing failure is a necessary part of the innovation process. Leaders must create an environment where employees feel safe to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
  2. Consistent Application – Another challenge is ensuring that the growth mindset is consistently applied across all levels of the organisation. It’s not enough for leaders to espouse the virtues of a growth mindset; they must also walk the talk and model the behaviours they want to see in their teams.
  3. Resistance to Change – In many organisations, the norm is considered sacrosanct and any change can lead to a reaction from the employees owning to a resistance to change.

Reflecting on my career and the lessons I’ve learned, I’m convinced that embracing a growth mindset is the key to unlocking the power of adaptability and innovation in the ever-changing business landscape. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, experimentation, and collaboration, organisations can position themselves for long-term success and prosperity.

Actions You Can Take

Beyond the challenges, the Return on Investment (ROI) of embracing a growth mindset is multifold. Here are five actions you can start to take today that will help you and your organisation embrace growth –

  1. Schedule time to learn – The way you brush your teeth, find time to sleep, look at social media – you have to find time to learn. Learn for the joy that it brings.
  2. Embrace feedback as a gift – The only way to learn, improve and grow is by receiving feedback. Encourage feedback for yourself and also for your teams within the organisation.
  3. Celebrate the effort and your progress – There are times when learning will not lead to an immediate outcome. What is important is to celebrate the effort and the progress you have made.
  4. Emphasise the process – When you set a process you follow, the chances of outcome increase. Make sure that you enjoy the process and stick to it.
  5. Encourage innovation and experimentation – in your personal life and for your people and organisation, encourage the experimental mindset and people to innovate and take risks.

As you navigate the challenges and opportunities of today’s business world, I encourage you to embrace a growth mindset. Believe in your ability to grow, learn, and adapt. Surround yourself with people who share your passion for learning and innovation. And never stop experimenting, taking risks, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

After all, as Dweck so eloquently put it, “the growth mindset is the compass that points you toward growth and prosperity.” Let’s embrace that compass and chart a course towards a future filled with endless possibilities.

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