Richard Branson, the billionaire CEO of Virgin Group, has it made. He has a net worth of roughly $5 billion and presides over more than 400 companies operating under the Virgin umbrella. Branson has also been knighted at Buckingham Palace and has plans to start sending paying customers to space. Needless to say, he’s a wildly interesting (and incredibly rich) guy.
Like other members of the billionaire club, his success has earned him a following. People are always keeping tabs on what Bill Gates or Warren Buffett are up to, in an effort to mirror them and capitalize for themselves. But like them, Richard Branson is seemingly from a different planet than most of us. It’s hard to say just what exactly the “X-factor” is, but if it were as simple as copying what other people did, we’d all have piles of money.
Fortunately, guys like Buffett and Branson are willing to share some insights into their thinking and processes. Buffett may tell us his tricks to investing, or which books to read, for example. Branson, on the other hand, is willing to talk more about his mindset. That is, the method of thinking that helped him achieve such wild success.
In a recent blog post on the Virgin site, Branson laid it all out: “We all need growth mindsets,” he wrote.
Richard Branson: It’s all about mindset
What the hell is a “growth mindset”, and how do you get one? As Branson explains, it’s a fairly simple concept. “This means being willing to learn, being happy to make mistakes, being eager to experiment,” he wrote.
“Far too many young people are taught to think with fixed mindsets: concentrating on exams, worrying about failing, wonderfully multi-shaped talents fretting about fitting into square holes,” Branson said. He then brought up the definition of growth mindset as put forth by his family’s organization, Big Change.
Quoting Big Change, Branson wrote the following:
A growth mindset isn’t simply a positive mindset. This isn’t just about being happy. It is about a fundamental belief that you can grow, learn and change for the better – through failure and success alike. This mindset motivates you to try, to reflect, to get back up, to ask for help and to learn. Ultimately changed minds is what brings about a big change.
So, there you have it. Branson attributes much of his success to his ability to adopt this way of thinking. It’s an ability to evolve and adapt as you go. To take on tasks that may end in failure, but not fearing that failure — everything is a lesson. Using those lessons, you can approach challenges from a different angle.
Think like a billionaire
Branson’s growth mindset has propelled him to the upper echelons of society. And you can see how others have used that growth mindset to achieve great things as well — even if they don’t identify it specifically. We can look at some of the world’s most powerful and businesses as examples.
Take Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has grown from a mere social media network to so much more. These days, it’s a (reluctant, perhaps) news platform. It’s a marketplace. The company has grown well beyond anything its founders probably envisioned. The reason it continues to do so is because the company’s leadership has abandoned a rigid mindset. It tries new things and learns from failures.
You can say the same about Apple, or Google. All of these companies were founded and run by people who are now billionaires. Think about the billionaires or super successful people out there. A list that includes the aforementioned Buffett, Gates, and Zuckerberg. But also Jeff Bezos, Phil Knight, and Paul Allen. All of them had to have a growth mindset to make it.
Do you think everything Nike’s put out has been a hit? Or that Amazon became a massive worldwide company by following a straight trajectory?
By adopting a different way of thinking, like the one that Branson lays out, we can become more agile. We can treat mistakes as lessons. And if we play our cards right, shorten our trip to the top substantially.