The Rollercoaster Ride of Achievement

Aug 23, 2012 | Career Development

Does your professional life sometimes feel like a non-stop roller coaster ride of ups and downs, highs and lows, exhilaration and irritation?  If so, chances are you’re probably on the right track. More than likely, it means you’re trying to accomplish something by pursuing your goals and dreams.  But as nice as accomplishing something sounds to the casual observer, consistent accomplishments throughout your career require a lot of work and unfailing effort. They also require one key element: the innovation mindset.

What is the innovation mindset?

In her book Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck identified two widespread mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.  I refer to these mindsets as the status quo (fixed) mindset and the innovation (growth) mindset.

Some hallmarks of the status quo mindset include beliefs that your intelligence is static, your qualities are carved in stone, and it creates an urgency for you to prove yourself over and over. The status quo mindset leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, get defensive and give up easily when obstacles appear, ignore useful negative feedback, and feel threatened by the success of others. The status quo mindset can stall out achievement.

The innovation mindset, however, believes the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development.  Intelligence can be developed which leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges. This mindset helps you persist in the face of obstacles, leverage effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.  As a result, those who embrace the innovation mindset reach higher levels of achievement.

But even those who choose the innovation mindset can become disheartened and discouraged as they attack their career plans if they aren’t prepared for the journey that lies ahead of them.  That’s where understanding what the innovation mindset curve looks like can prepare you for the journey and keep you on track even when you just want to stop and get off the roller coaster altogether.

What is the innovation mindset curve?

My favorite way to illustrate this is Docherty’s Innovation Mindset Model, developed by Mike Docherty.  In his model, Mr. Docherty identifies five innovation mindset stages: dreaming, doubting, quitting or persevering, transforming, and championing.

Image used with permission.

If you place these curves back to back to back one right after the other, you can see how the innovation mindset may begin to feel like that roller coaster ride I mentioned at the start.


But what we need to recognize is a lot of the BIG inventions – or in our case, career achievements – don’t come all at once.  They are the result of numerous smaller inventions or innovations that add to others in order to become the BIG invention we may recognize as innovation.  For example:  Thomas Edison didn’t invent a working incandescent electric light bulb on his very first try.  In fact, it took five separate inventions combined together before his innovation came to life! (Innovative Like Edison by Michael J. Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott)  And each one of those smaller inventions had to go through the trial and error process of the innovation cycle before it was “ready” to advance to the next stage and be used with other innovations to create the BIG innovation of the day – a light bulb that actually worked!  The innovation process takes some perseverance at times.  The bigger your idea or goal is, the more time, energy, testing, tweaking, and perseverance it will likely take to accomplish it and the more times you will have to make your way through the innovation mindset curve to attain the desired results you set out to achieve.

As I look back on my own career, I have had experiences that I did not welcome or fully appreciate at the time.  In some cases, they did not even seem to fit in with what I was working toward accomplishing. Other times, I wholeheartedly dove into the process of working my way through the innovation mindset curve because I really wanted what was on the other side. But in all cases, both the unwanted and wanted experiences have collectively stacked up to enable and empower me to do things in my career I NEVER DREAMED possible even 10 years ago…let alone 15 or 20 years ago. That’s the power choosing the innovation mindset can have in your career, too.

Just over two years ago now, I embarked upon one of the biggest innovations of my career yet – writing a book.  Inspired by my passion for this profession and the potential it holds for every administrative professional and my ongoing quest to “live without regrets”, I embraced the innovation mindset and dove in.  It was a non-stop roller coaster ride from the start. Each phase of the process had its own unique innovation mindset curves to navigate. Even when I thought I was almost done, there were still a few unexpected valleys to work my way through.  But the transformation in my own thinking and the renewed approach to my career development as a result of my most recent journey into innovation has been priceless. I never thought I would ever want to write another book after navigating some of the early curves involved in writing my first book. Now I’ve begun to outline not just one but two more book concepts.  I wasn’t sure I’d ever reach the championing phase of writing my book, but now I’m finally there.  Let me just say that the view and the feeling from the top of the innovation mindset curve have made the daily struggles and the see-sawing moments of exhilaration and irritation of writing and finishing this book worth it.

I certainly did not navigate this innovative roller coaster ride alone. Innovation requires collaboration.  Throughout my career, I have surrounded myself with an innovation lab full of advisors, supporters, and collaborators who have help me keep my eyes on the goal, inspire new approaches to challenges that surface, and ultimately helped make my book better as a result. I am beyond thankful for each of them.

I have no idea exactly what lies ahead for me, but I know what my career goals are and how I plan to attack them.  I also know that each new opportunity – anticipated or not – that presents itself is a building block in the ongoing innovation of my administrative career. I’m much more calm and relaxed about the prospects with the innovation mindset guiding my path…and I just might be enjoying the rollercoaster ride a bit more now as a result.   So it will be for you. Embrace the innovation mindset. Commit to continually reinventing and renewing yourself. And you WILL experience the power of innovation in your administrative career.

© 2012 Julie Perrine International, LLC

The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career is available at and on  Also available for Kindle.


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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at

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