It was the summer of 2004, and I was at Seattle, working as Strategy Officer at Nordstrom. I was young, ambitious and good at what I did. I understood the importance of teamwork and hard work, but at the time, I was like a teenager who intellectually understood the importance of exercise and good health but would find it hard to appreciate the wisdom of those words in her current stage of life.
During the early days of my career, my management style evolved around intelligence and smartness. I would judge my performance and that of others by that yardstick. But over the past few years of building an organisation from scratch and scaling it up to the size it is today, I have unlearnt many management principles. Most important, I now view my team through a very different lens. For me, individual smartness and intelligence are no longer the hallmarks of success. Instead, I have started valuing grit and mindset as fundamentally more critical to individual and organisational success. Running a start-up, or doing any other job for that matter, requires extended periods of commitment and hard work. One is pitched against the best of the breed and every day has to be won. Intelligence and smartness can only take you so far; what wins the war is the sheer grit of not letting it go, the fact that you are there every day, especially on those days when every part of your body and mind is screaming "I can't do this anymore." The one who picks herself up and is determined to grow is the one who wins in the long run.
Today, when I am hiring people or evaluating performance, I give grit and mindset much more weight than anything else. In the end, if a person wants to work in an organisation, work for something bigger or even be an entrepreneur, there is only one thing that counts, and that is passion. Even while hiring, it is easy to tell if there is any real passion or motivation, and if there is, you have found your ideal candidate. We all need to be that ideal candidate and have the passion for whatever it is we are working for.
And that is the greatest lesson for me. Be passionate, have a flexible yet growth-oriented and development-focussed mindset and the grit to hold on. Everything else will fall into place.
By Radhika Aggarwal, CBO and Co-founder, ShopClues