The wisdom of taxi drivers


I have spent a considerable amount of time travelling for work lately. I try to make the best of even the longest most complicated journey and when I was travelling in the South West of England recently, I was fortunate to have a really great chat with a taxi driver. After the usual pleasantries, we quickly got onto the important subject of remaining positive in adversity which was a welcome surprise!

He was telling me about the wars between local taxi firms which were threatening business and creating an unpleasant atmosphere of competition. My driver told me about a guy he’s admired from his school days, a man who despite building up his beloved taxi cab business over 12 years, lost it all within a few short months when he made a few poor business decisions. What my driver admired about this man was his unfailing ability to dust himself off and get on with life, re-building his business and making a new (and different) success of himself.

I thought this was a perfect example of ‘Growth Mindset’ which had been my training topic that very day. So I asked him what made this much admired colleague so positive despite his losses. My driver was succinct in his response; ‘determination and belief’…and he believes this guy has had these qualities since school days. He’s also managed his climb back to success without compromising relationships and remaining respected and respectful of others.

It’s worth remembering that even if we haven’t always possessed growth mindset qualities, happily, we can become less static and more malleable in our thinking and performance. We can kick-off new habits that, little by little, create our own successes through minute changes in our plastic brain.

Here are some ways to develop a growth mindset:

1. Positive emotions – Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology researcher focusing in the field of positive psychology, talks about ‘broadening and building’ our experience of positive emotions. Her research demonstrates that this has numerous benefits to our wellbeing. check out Barbara’s 2 minute tips here.

2. Curiosity –Carol Dweck, the foremost scientist in how we develop a growth mindset, emphasises the continuing need in life to remain open and curious of new experiences and learning opportunities

3. Being comfortable to make mistakes – Professor Dweck also speaks of accepting that we may not have the level of experience or expertise in a subject yet, and only by trying things out, and making mistakes along the way, can we truly develop and embed learning

Please share your stories of people who’ve inspired you with their growth mindset, I’d love to hear them.