At the start of your career, attitude is far more important than talent and skills.
In particular, there’s an attitude that’s helpful for thriving during the Praxis program and throughout your life.
We call it, forward tilt. It’s about having a bias for action and excitement for new ideas. The name itself gives a hint on how to best identify if you have this trait.
When confronted with challenges, surprises, or new ideas are you leaning forward ready to tackle them head on?
Praxis is so committed to this attitude that members of our staff wrote a book and recorded a 52-week podcast dedicated to it.
While there is no right way to work through these materials there are certain mental mindsets I see working well with alumni who have thrived in the program, participants I’ve coached, and during my own journey to embody the forward tilt mindset.
I was coaching a participant worrying about moving for their business partner experience.
We took a deeper look at what was bothering them and it came down to an aversion to leaving friends and family.
They’d been through a lot in their hometown building many strong attachments and memories.
When examining a relocation decision, I always offer some version of the following thought experiment based on the reframing technique.
In this example, there’s a potential opportunity in Austin, Texas.
I had them imagine living in their own apartment in Austin making the average salary of a Praxis graduate at a high growth startup.
From here, we talked about if they’d be willing to move from Austin back to their parent’s house and return to the lower wage job that they have now.
They told me they would never make such decision if the situation was reversed.
In reality, it wasn’t about leaving friends and family but a natural flare-up of fearing change.
Our fear response systems have yet to catch up to the modern world where a simple move can expand your opportunities in a drastic way. This system can guide us to self-limiting behavior.
We spent 30 minutes putting together a simple personal finance plan to save up for the move and broke up the logistics of this change into more manageable steps.
With a simple reframe, we identified the true culprit of the anxiety and took some active steps to mitigate it in a short amount of time.
This is a fantastic way to diagnose and explore feelings that prevent you from leaning into new challenges with forward tilt.
Graph looking good vs improvement
Another natural human tendency that can impede forward tilt is a fear of looking dumb and making mistakes.
This toxic fear will prevent asking questions or trying out challenging problems.
Sure, there’s a risk of asking silly questions or making a mistake, I’d argue that this is a necessary risk if you want to be the person who asks the poignant question that solves a complicated problem.
I love this simple graph illustrating this idea in the context of looking cool in social situations.
Here’s how the author described her thought process:
“In blue, I drew the apparent-coolness level that I could achieve if I stuck with the “try to look good” strategy. In brown, I drew the apparent-coolness level I’d have if I instead made mistakes as quickly and loudly as possible — I’d look worse at first, but then I’d learn faster, eventually overtaking the blue line.”
By using this mindset you can reduce the fixation on the immediate response to your questions or activities and see yourself stretched out across time as a person in the process of becoming dependable and interesting.
The wonderful ideas of Carol Dweck inform the next mental mindset.
In her book, Mindset, she talks about two ways people approach practicing new skills.
The fixed mindset and the growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is a perspective that skills are inborn, genetic, and natural.
On the other side of the continuum is the growth mindset where a person believes that through effort, persistence, and mentorship they can improve any skill.
In her book, Dweck finds overwhelming evidence that more you embrace a growth mindset the higher levels of motivation you’ll have to change.
This is applicable to developing the forward tilt mentality.
Instead of focusing on the “natural” level of your optimism, embrace a course of continual learning, become intrigued by any shortcomings or mistakes, and learn to love effort.
I suggest checking out Mindset for even more wisdom on the growth mindset. You can also check out her fascinating Ted Talk by clicking here.
Another way to look at the forward tilt mindset is that it’s an excitement to put ideas into action. That’s why I’m synthesizing a few different theories into a mindset I call applied curiosity.
It’s clear that the best opportunities available now require an ability to get comfortable in an uncertain and shifting landscape.
It is so crucial to fight back against a natural tendency to slip into routine and comfortable methods of problem-solving.
Often, the best strategy is looking for new approaches to existing problems instead of continuing to solve them in suboptimal ways.
For example, let’s say you’re terrified of public speaking but know you want to improve your forward tilt and take more chances.
You’ve noticed that by eating 2 gallons of ice cream before and after the event you can cope with the stress, but now you’re running out of loose fitting clothes.
Instead of running to the grocery store to stock up you could do research on improving your confidence in public speaking.
Maybe you find Isaac Morehouse’s excellent and free public speaking course and it helps you decrease prespeech ice cream consumption.
It’s so easy to fixate on the methods of problem-solving that we know well, but in an environment where things change fast, habits can become a major weakness.
What I try to do is get process oriented for my day to day tasks. Then, I schedule in time to find out how to make these processes redundant, automated, or more efficient.
Often in these scheduled sessions, I fail to find an automated or better process than the one I’m doing but instead stumble across better strategies or new information that I’d never thought about.
By embracing these 4 mindsets you can navigate the nebulous and exciting journey of practicing and improving forward tilt.
Keep them in mind and download the free forward tilt ebook.