As an immigrant, and child of immigrants, my life has been spent watching my parents figure things out. Then, as an adult, having to figure many things out for myself that my parents never experienced. The life of an immigrant is a journey of constantly running into new obstacles that need to be understood and then overcome. Many of the obstacles are increasingly challenging because we lack sufficient context, experience, or simply haven’t figured out where to find the solution. Immigrants often lack the social support systems that many others can easily turn to. When someone chooses to uproot their life along with their family in the search of opportunity, they are entering into a bargain. In return for a chance, much of their life might just prove to be a series of things that they don’t know yet, but will be required to figure out.
The mindset of an immigrant can’t be “I don’t know English.” The mindset is “I don’t know English yet.” "We aren't living in a neighborhood with good schools yet." "We haven't found a way to balance our heritage with trying to assimilate into our new community yet." "This doesn't feel like home yet." Every challenge is appended with yet, because immigrants inherently recognize the deal they have opted into.
I think about how the yet mindset applies to all of us, not just immigrants. In today’s world, to stay competitive and current, learning and growth don’t just end the day you graduate from school. Personal development is a never ending journey. We are all required to be forever students now. This idea is most apparent to me when connecting with operators who are building companies. They are often doing things for the first time. A CEO’s job demands constant evolution, the learning curve is steep, and the journey along that curve is often lonely. The earlier in the journey that a leader can adopt the yet mindset the better it is for them and for their company. By simply framing your challenges as things you haven’t overcome yet, they no longer seem like ambiguous insurmountable mountains. Instead, you can begin to focus on the incremental steps that will make up your climb to the other side.
When we evaluate operators to partner with, I'm always trying to understand if they have a yet mindset. Are they intimidated or invigorated by the challenge of doing things for the first time? Does not knowing how to do something lead them towards action or inaction? Are they quick to acknowledge when they need to ask for help and leverage others around them, or do they turn inwards and shut down? None of us are perfect at this, but there are certainly people who are more inclined to meet new challenges head on, not just because it is the best option, but because it is the only option.
Problem solving, managing one’s own psychology, and continuous learning are critical skills for all of us to develop. I’m always looking to learn more and do better, both for myself and for the teams in our portfolio. I’d love to hear from any of you on ways that you dive into learning about new topics and overcoming challenges. Please feel free to reach out, even if we don’t know each other...yet.