Four Keys to Developing a Well-Rounded Growth Mindset from MLK
by Jon Isaacson
With the right blueprint we can develop our lives and our careers into something we can be proud of.
In October of 1967, 6 months before his death by assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. He spoke on the idea that, like any well-constructed building, our lives should be built upon a solid blueprint. MLK asked the students, “What is your life’s blueprint?”
Our personal and professional development goals are often intertwined. Insurance provides many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people and a positive impact in the world. Achieving success cannot be at the expense of building a life or a legacy for ourselves. We often celebrate the life, work, and message of Martin Luther King, Jr, as he demonstrates how they can all merge together to make the world a better place. In this famous speech, Dr. King shared a few keys to building a life of purpose.
Developing a Well-Rounded Growth Mindset Starts with a Sound Blueprint
“Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.” – MLK
Even though this message was shared with junior high students, the wisdom is no less applicable to any age. Those adolescent years are critical in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Our early years lay the foundation for how we will see the world and our role in it. Too many haven’t made solid foundations on a sound blueprint at these transitional stages in their lives and so they are wandering through life without a clear vision. Leadership starts with leading yourself. Leading yourself starts with mapping out a plan, a blueprint for where you want your life to go, how you plan to get there and what steps you will take to move in that direction today.
Our calling is to be people of excellence. The beauty of a blueprint is that it is not the finished product but the plan we will follow in order to build our lives upward. As we move forward in our mission we refer to our blueprint to inspire us to action. When we get lost along the way we can recall our blueprint to remind us of our vision. As obstacles arise we understand that the core principles remain the same but we adapt to new information throughout the process. Martin Luther King, Jr challenged the students, “Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.”
Developing a Well-Rounded Growth Mindset Starts with Knowing your Identity
“Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness.” – MLK
When children are raised at a disadvantage whether that be economically, socially, structurally, spiritually, emotionally, physically or a combination of all of these factors they have more obstacles to overcome. Too often our current situation influences our perspective of who we are as people or what we are capable of. The path to our purpose does not ignore our circumstances, but Martin Luther King, Jr. and other voices of strength call upon people of vision to carry forward. He says to the students, “I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil. I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in — stay in school.”
Purpose requires courage to see past our immediate situation to work through and build for our long-term goals. Vision provides energy in the struggle when the winds have died down and the power is out. Remembering that we have a blueprint calls us back to the clarity of our mission. Understanding our worth as people and our role in the bigger picture reminds us to carry on the good work we have before us regardless of the opposition we face.
Developing a Well-Rounded Growth Mindset Starts with Pursuing Excellence
“Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor.” – MLK
The cult of success causes us to idolize the achievers who are most apparent in movies, business and who have attained affluence. If the vision of your blueprint is to build a purposeful and happy existence then the result of our life’s work is not guaranteed to bring those physical rewards. Dr. King admonished the students, “If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”
Life is progressive. As we learn an industry and build skills we develop ourselves into those who stand out for mastery in their current duties. Being teachable, consistently learning, growing in our abilities and challenging ourselves to take risks all lead towards advancement. Trust is the most valuable commodity for advancing in life and business, and those who can establish and leverage trust can go far.
Developing a Well-Rounded Growth Mindset Starts with Being Useful
“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.” – MLK
Worrying about what we are not will rob us from the opportunities we have in the present. Complaining about what we have not become will not help us to reach for who we are and who we can be. If you fail to build excellence where you are currently you will struggle to build excellence in the future. Excellence is a habit and a muscle that must be exercised. Excellence starts with clarity through outlining a blueprint. Preparing to succeed does not guarantee success. But failing to prepare does set the stage for failure. Your mission, big or small, is important.
Investing in Yourself and Your Career are Key to Crafting Success in Life
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of principles. His life’s work is synonymous with making a difference in the world. With the right blueprint we can develop our lives and our careers into something we can be proud of. Insurance provides many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people and a positive impact in our communities at large. To keep yourself on track remember to clarify your blueprint, value yourself, seek excellence and be the best of whatever you are.
This article appeared in Insurance Nerds.