“Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”Octavia Butler
When we hire people, when we seek people out to assist in the change we seek to bring about, we often look for talent. Most, if not all, job descriptions are written this way. Skills aka talent and education. Most interviews are based around this too.
And yet, habits, especially learning habits, are what trump them all. And yes, habits cane be both positive and destructive. One of the often overlooked aspects of positive habits is the mindset they require. What Carol Dweck calls the growth mindset. Habits require perseverance and the willingness to be bad at something first. To embrace bad writing, bad gardening, bad managing, bad influencing. To embrace imperfection with open arms AND keep trying knowing you can improve and WILL improve if you keep at it.
So when we hire, perhaps we should ask more questions about habits. Ask to see a body of work showing improvement, not perfection. And perhaps too as we seek to bring about change, we should look for those with the habits and mindsets our project needs. And seek to work with them. People with good habits tend to understand things won’t go perfect the first time, second time, or even the hundredth time. But they will want to see the work improving.
After all, that’s what change is all about.