The PERL of growth behaviours
Ian Dyason . 29 Jan 2021
To the techies reading this, I am not referring to the programming language that ultimately became Raku. Instead, PERL (as opposed to the beautiful pearls in the picture above) refers to the four key behaviours that help to develop the growth mindset in us, and collectively, in organisations. PERL refers to Purpose, Effort, Resilience and Learning.
The bad news, therefore, for anyone who wants to be successful, is that it takes effort; the good news is that EVERYONE can be a success.
In her book, Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success, Dr Angela Duckworth details her research as she uncovered the secrets to success in any endeavour. While competence is important, she says this cannot come without passion for the subject. It does not matter if you are into pottery or gymnastics, if you only know how to do something, you will not be nearly as good as one who is passionate about doing it. That passion, according to Duckworth, will drive effort, continuously doing and learning and perfecting. No one is born perfect; we have to work hard to get there, if ever at all. Hence, effort counts for a lot to make it to success. And finally, resilience, that all-important character of picking ourselves up when we fall. Since we are not born perfect, we must strive to becoming one, especially when we fall - and we will. The ability to pick ourselves up when we fall, and get back on the horse and try again, is paramount in our efforts to becoming successful. The bad news, therefore, for anyone who wants to be successful, is that it takes effort; the good news is that EVERYONE can be a success.
Following on from Duckworth's work, and layering it with our 5DGM, we have the PERL behaviours for creating sustained growth in our lives. The following paragraphs will expound each of these ideas more.
It is not as though you are dispassionate one moment, and passionate the next. It actually starts by you deciding to be passionate!
Recall your first (or current) love. Recall the time you met. Recall the excitement you felt. Recall the almost-irrational compulsion to spend each and every waking moment with him/her. Recall the insatiable desire to find out everything about the person. Well, that's passion. Passion drives us to uncover more and more about the subject matter with persistent, child-like wonder (anyone who's ever had a child can attest to such behaviour!). It drives us to work past "normal working hours" not because we have to, but because we want to. Passion sustains us when the chips are down, pushing us to the next high. And the next. Passion will make even the most dull activity exciting.
The interesting thing about passion is that it does not hit you like a bolt of lightning. It is not as though you are dispassionate one moment, and passionate the next. It actually starts by you deciding to be passionate! This decision is fuelled in part by the known and, a lot more, by the unknown. As you can tell, I am passionate about the growth mindset; what constitutes that mindset, how we can measure that in people, how we can develop that, and how we can apply that. But this passion did not come when I was first introduced to it. In fact, it was simply a means to an end for me; an element in our organic growth programme for organisations. However, the more I interacted with it, the greater the curiosity; and the more questions I had about it, the more it pulled me into the universe of the mindset until, finally, I had to create an assessment tool for it. I could easily have ignored the questions, the curiosity, and focused on my other work. But I chose not to. I decided that I would want to devote all my spare time to uncovering the depths of this fascinating topic, and this has sustained my 9-year dalliance with the subject. And I am convinced that this is just the beginning!
So, if passion is a decision, how can we decide to be passionate, and how can we manifest that decision? Here are some ways:
Be deeply interested in your focus area.
Uncover everything about it - no matter how small!
Never be satisfied by what you know (or think you know); dig deeper
Own the outcomes of your inquisitiveness
Take pride in progress, not success
Pivot, yes! Give up, NO!
Passion will out; there is no hiding it. And that is the manifestation. There is also no faking it; either you have it or you don't. And when you do, you inspire those around you.
"I don't fear the man who practiced 10,000 kicks. But I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times."
Next, effort. The thing about passion is that it will drive effort. Effort is not just trying to do something, it is continuously doing something and continuously getting better. The journey of the thousand miles starts with the first step, and the next, and the next. Stepping into the first step may not be difficult, may not require a lot of effort. However, maintaining those steps for the first mile, the next, the 100th mile, the next 100th mile, takes a lot of effort and determination. Hence, when we speak of effort here, we are speaking of determined effort - the continuous application of one's energies to get better at something. According to research, to master something, a person needs to devote 10,000 hours to practice. Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist, once said, "I don't fear the man who practiced 10,000 kicks. But I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times." Hence, when we speak of effort, we speak of the determination to put in the time, the energy, the commitment, the intellect, onto one thing. To build growth behaviours, therefore, requires us to be consistent in applying ourselves to the task at hand, time and time again; all the while getting better. It really doesn't matter what the focus is; so long as you dive into it, constantly applying yourself, constantly correcting every nuance of error, constantly getting better.