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GYWD #21: How the Growth Mindset Can Unlock Your Writing Potential

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In this episode…

Are great writers born or made? Is your productivity level something fixed, or can you become a more productive person over time? If you haven’t written a book by age 30, will you ever? Do rejections mean you’re a failure?

In this podcast we take another look at the writer’s mindset. Our focus today is the importance of a growth mindset. Research shows that adopting a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset, plays a huge role in how people live their lives. Thanks to its impact on learning, challenge seeking, and motivation, adopting a growth mindset leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction, as well as to greater achievement.

In this episode I start by sharing a personal lesson about growth that took me over twenty years to talk about in public. Then I outline the differences between growth and fixed mindsets, talk about why the growth mindset is so crucial for writers, and walk through five strategies for growing your growth mindset.


Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Jennifer Smith, “Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: How What You Think Affects What You Achieve,”

Ashley Cullins, “Fixed Mindset Vs. Growth Mindset Examples,”

Weekly Writing Routine Workshop (Jan 20, 2022)
30 Day Writing Habit Builder Challenge (Jan 24, 2022)

Trevor’s Coach-Led Weekly Writing Group
Follow me on Twitter

The 12 Week Year for Writers

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Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter and I’ll send you Chapter 1 of The 12 Week Year for Writers, a free reader’s guide, and more.


Trevor Thrall 0:00
Welcome to the Get your writing done Podcast. I’m Trevor Thrall, author of the 12 week year for writers. If you enjoy today’s episode, please submit a review wherever you get your podcasts that really helps. And for weekly updates on the podcast and other writing resources, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get your writing done calm. are great writers born or made? Is your productivity level something fixed? Or can you become a more productive writer over time? If you haven’t written a book by age 30? Will you ever? Do rejections mean your failure? In this podcast we take another look at the writers mindset. Our focus today is the importance of a growth mindset. Research shows that adopting a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset plays a huge role in how people live their lives. Thanks to its impact on learning, challenge seeking and motivation. Adopting a growth mindset leads to greater happiness, life satisfaction, as well as greater achievement. In this episode, I start by sharing a personal lesson about growth that took me over 20 years to talk about in public. Then I outline the differences between growth and fixed mindsets. Talk about why the growth mindset is so crucial for writers talk about some of the fixed mindset traps out there for writers and then I’ll walk through five strategies for growing your growth mindset.

Okay, I’m going to start with a story that I didn’t tell anyone outside my immediate family for at least a couple decades after it happened. And the reasons pretty simple, I was ashamed of it. I was ashamed of what happened. I thought it reflected very poorly on me. And my personhood, and I didn’t want anyone to know about it. So what exactly was this? Well, so as you know, if you’d listen to the podcast, I went to graduate school to get a PhD in political science at MIT, very highly rated department for political science to stay the sort of thing I studied. And as I’ve shared in previous podcast, I spent the first couple years while I was taking classes with, you know, varying degrees of intense imposter syndrome, was a little bit younger than most of the people there hadn’t worked in the real world, or especially in any of the sort of government agencies that many of my comrades had. So I felt behind the eight ball, it took me a long time to feel like I really belonged. Well, the way grad school in political science works, you spent a couple years taking classes, and then you take what they call a comprehensive exams. And these are two day long eight hour exams, where you sit and write three monster essay answers to very broad questions that are meant to test your depth of knowledge, your breadth of knowledge, analytical thinking, in your two major subfields of political science that you’ve chosen. And so you know, the big challenge with these exams is that they never tell you what’s going to be on them exactly. Your ability to find out was on previous exams was usually kind of limited because back in my day, they have a handy data set have these to give you they were, they were torn about whether to give students these things, they they kind of liked all the mystique around these exams. And they didn’t publish a rubric, they would never tell you exactly what they were looking for, or what anyone did wrong, or needed to do right to pass them. And the reading list for these exams was numbered in the hundreds of articles and books. It wasn’t just what you’d studied in class, he went well beyond that. So as you can imagine, these exams provoke a lot of stress, anxiety, panic, even among grad students, and their their purpose is in part to do that to press you to study as hard as possible to become a master of your, of your domain. And then when you pass the exams, you’re allowed to write a dissertation. So So when, when I was nearing the end of my second year of courses, me and several other classmates banded together in a study group and started studying and, and all that good stuff. And, and then, and the plan was to take the exam the following fall, and the only little twist in my plan was that I, instead of spending the summer studying, and then coming back and taking the exam in late August, when everyone else in my little group was planning to do it. I went back to Michigan to get married, and I spent the summer not studying quite so much as I had been. Not none, but not as much. You know, I was by the pool with my wife and we were, you know, reading our vows and planning, you know, what to pack for dinner at the wedding and all that sort of stuff. Got married in July, and then travel back to Massachusetts for the school. semester, I didn’t take the exam immediately in August, but I took it like a month and a half later, something like that.

And so, so you take the written exam, and then a week later, you have to do a oral exam to follow that up. And they can ask you questions, and so on. And then they tell if you pass or fail. And so they’ll tell you anything about the written exam to you to get to the oral exam. And I walked into the oral exam, nervous as you can imagine, I mean, I was afraid of all these professors on a good day, you know, much less than exam day, terrified. But I thought I did fine on the exam. So I waltz in there going, okay, look, you know, round two, and I get in, and I immediately know something’s wrong. I there, the air in the room did not feel right. And I got that sinking feeling you get where you know, something’s about to go very, very wrong. And from the immediate get go, I think the very first sentence that I think my advisor, who was on the exam committee said was up, this was not the exam we were hoping to see. And I knew right then that I was in big trouble. And we proceeded to have, I don’t know, an hour of awkward, unpleasant conversation. And, and at the end of it, they failed me. And, oh, my God, I was crushed. I was crushed, I was terrified. One other thing I didn’t tell you about these exams is if you, you get one chance to do them over. And if you fail again, they kick you out of the program. And sometimes they kick out of the program, if you did bad enough the first time. No, they didn’t do that. But I was, you know, I was thunderstruck, I was crushed. I was shocked. And yet that was not was not not a great feeling. And even worse, just to put a point on it, as I was walking back from where the exam was to my office, all of my comrades

some of whom had just taken the exam and passed it a couple months before some who were taking it in the following spring. And still studying, all came out smiling and laughing to see me in high fives me somebody like literally got a high five in the air and looks at my face. And their hand just sort of, you know, lingers there in the air, as they realized I’m not about the high five, and my face must have looked like I just somebody just died or something like that. And they’re like, Oh, my God, what happened? I was like I failed. And I can tell you there that that scene is emblazoned still in my memory because it was so painful to fail. And then I have to tell everyone I failed right away was brutal. And so let me just walk you through where I was mentally at that point. Right. My first self defense mechanism here was that I had been, I had been ambushed. Now you got to remember who I am back at this stage of my life, right? I’m a person who’s always been good at school, I aced most tests. I am usually one of the you know better students in any classroom. I’m at a great Department of Political Science, right? I’m thinking I’m all that and a bag of chips. And now I’ve just been had the rug pulled out from under me. And so I’m in ego defense mode, I am looking for any way to spin this that doesn’t involve me being not as smart as I think I am. And so I made all sorts of excuses. For myself, ah, they, I was the only person taking the exam as it turned out at that moment. And so I thought they did a crappy job just whipping off an exam, because the questions didn’t, didn’t fit the normal questions. And they asked about stuff that, you know, I had no business knowing because it was never any my classes or, you know, all these I told myself all these stories, and then I said all well, you know, I was gone for the summer. So you know, I, it doesn’t count or, you know, this, that and the other thing. And so, at first I sort of denied that I had failed, in a sense, right? We need to do over because because that was baloney. My second thought was, I’m a failure, that that sense of imposter syndrome. I was feeling that was real. I was I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I worried that I just wasn’t smart enough. Is it just proof? And you know, it was grim. Right, it was grim. I did not have a way of looking at this. That was positive in any any way, shape, or form. And, and as I’ve discussed in a previous podcast, the only thing that sort of saved me at this point was that I I was so desperate to get a PhD. And in part, I was also desperate to prove that I wasn’t the person that that exam said I was. So I was sort of I needed revenge on that initial exam because it said I wasn’t smart. I wanted to show that I was smart. So I went back. I think I failed on a Thursday I went to my advisors office first thing Monday morning and said, What do I have to do to pass this thing? And he gave me some some tips. And so I spent the next semester I took two classes with one of the guys who’s on the exam committee and I think he was mad cuz I’ve never taken a class with him before. So I got to do that took two classes with him. I spent every minute I wasn’t in class reading and writing practice answers. For the kinds of questions that were on the exam, I scooped up every question I could find I wrote answers to every question. I put in a lot of work in my panic, not to get kicked out of the program. And the result was I took the exam five months later, and I crushed it, I it was all smiles. I walked in the oral exam. And I can tell that was the opposite of the first time everyone was leaning back in their chair. There was a relaxed attitude, and everything was smiles. And I think we chatted for only 15 minutes. I said, get out. Here we go read a dissertation. And that’s what we had been hoping for. And, you know, to say I was relieved is probably the bestest understatement you can imagine. But what’s really interesting to me is that I didn’t fully grasp the real lesson that I had learned until much later. Because as I said, I didn’t tell anyone who wasn’t there at the time, or who wasn’t my immediate family. I didn’t tell them this story. I didn’t, I didn’t tell anyone else this for at least 20 years, maybe 25.

And that’s because I didn’t realize what the real lesson of this story was. I thought the lesson was, I’m not as smart as other people who got a PhD. I was not a good student, I was I was lacking was the story that I told myself for a long time about that situation. But over time, as I sort of learned more about myself, I learned more about psychology, many other things. What I realized is that the most important lesson that I should have taken from that was that growth was possible. What I really learned was that I could go from not passing a test, that was a very hard test, to passing a test, that was a very hard test. What I didn’t do the first time was realize that failure Wasn’t a sign that I wasn’t smart. Instead, what it was, was a sign that I hadn’t done the preparation I needed to do. And when I put in the preparation, I passed, I passed very well. And so in the long run, and this is so ironic, to me, that the things that are, were the source of my greatest professional and personal shame, have wound up being my best stories, the greatest gifts I can now give to my graduate students are these stories about my failures, because nowadays, I realize that the the gift I can give is the point out that if you have a growth mindset, and you fail your exams, you don’t have to look at them as a personal, you know, a recall am it’s not a judgment on your intelligence, it’s not a judgement of your personhood, your value as a person. It’s merely a point in time estimate of, of the the test that you wrote, right? The or maybe the, your current ability to write answers to those specific questions. But but when you adopt the growth mindset, you realize that not only is that not anything more than that, but but it’s also data for you. And it’s an opportunity for you to figure out, what didn’t you do, that you could have done to get a different result. And, and when I look back at what I did, after I failed it, it was an it was exactly what a growth mindset sort of would suggest you to do. Now, the funny thing is, I didn’t get there that way back then I got there through panic and, and sort of a desire to prove myself as opposed to a growth mindset where I was actually focused on the learning part, I was too panicked at the time. But now what I see is that the biggest lesson I actually got from that, and this is something that, that buoyed me in future situations was, I am a person who can fail at something, and then eventually succeed. And that is a priceless, priceless lesson. And everyone can do this, not just me. This is what a growth mindset will give you a growth mindset will tell you that you can use failure, setbacks, frustrations, as data and information that you can learn from and eventually do a better job do whatever it is you want to achieve, you can eventually achieve so so this is my kind of horror story turned, like one of the most important stories about who I think I now am, that I have, and again, one of the things that I now tell people as often as I can, because I think it’s so important, and frankly, because of the shame and embarrassment that we feel about these kinds of things. These are very uncommon stories to hear because, frankly, a lot of people just aren’t willing to share them. So, so I share that to tee up our discussion of The growth mindset. And the growth mindset is a brainchild of, of Carol Dweck, a researcher. And she is she has spawned just a tremendous sort of field subfield of research on on the importance of mindset to all kinds of behaviors, especially school, and business and athletics, just all manner of things. And she defines the growth mindset as the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. And I just think what a powerful statement about the world and about yourself that is, and, and when she says basic qualities, she’s talking about intelligence, she’s talking about athletic capability, she’s talking about musical ability, she’s talking about artistic ability, she’s talking about how good you are, as a writer, how good you are at math, all sorts of things that many of us think, are givens. And in fact, the opposite of a growth mindset, of course, is a fixed mindset.

a mindset that leads people to believe that their basic qualities are essentially fixed, and cannot be improved over time. And so, you know, if you are trying to get a handle on this, a quick, a quick quiz might be might be useful. So I’ll read a couple of statements. And then you’ll tell me which ones, you know, you resonate with more closely. Alright, so here’s the first couple. First one is your writing ability is something very basic about you, that you can’t change much. And the second is, you can learn new things, but you can’t really change how good a writer you are. Those are the first two. And so, you know, noodle on those for many, how do those feel to you, and then, and then let’s, let’s have a couple others. The first is, no matter how good a writer you are, you can always improve quite a bit. And the next would be, you can substantially change how good a writer you are. And if we want to sort of combine productivity, as I often do with our discussion about writing, you can just substitute the word productivity in there for running. And you might believe that your productivity is something very basic about you that you can’t change much, or that your productivity that you can learn things, but you can’t really change how productive you are. On the other hand, you might believe that no matter how productive you are, you can always improve quite a bit. Or that you can substantially change how productive you are. Right and pretty clearly, you know, just based on the quick definition we’ve had, you can already sense that the the first couple of statements, in each case were were fixed mindset statements, that that your writing ability, something fixed about you, you just have a natural talent for writing, or you don’t, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Similarly, you’re either one of those efficient, productive people, or you’re not, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s a fixed mindset. The growth mindset, on the opposite side suggests that, you know, those things are not fixed, they are changeable. And that you can improve them over the time, through your own efforts through getting help from others to strategic, you know, winkling and wrangling. And so that is a, you know, just the most basic of differences. Now, you know, as I mentioned, Carol Dweck has found that, you know, the which of these mindsets, a person has really shaped a lot of their approach to doing all kinds of tasks in life. And so and so just to flesh out a little bit more people who adopt a growth mindset are much more likely to embrace lifelong learning to believe that they can become smarter and more capable, better at writing, and so on. They’re much more likely to put in effort and practice in order to learn and get better at things. They’re much more likely to believe that that kind of effort will in fact lead to mastery over time. They’re much more likely to see failures, as temporary setbacks and as a source of information and potential constructive criticism for getting better at things. People who adopt the growth mindset are also much more likely to embrace challenges, because they’re not afraid of failure. Instead, they’re they’re looking forward to growing and learning. They’re also more likely to see other people’s success as a source of inspiration, rather than as a threat. And so those are all really, I mean, if you think about those are all pretty darn healthy attitudes. to have, if you’re someone who wants to learn new things, to grow, to improve as a writer, and to and to achieve things that you’ve not yet done, right. On the other hand, research shows that people with a fixed mindset tend to, you know, of course, believe that their intelligence and their capabilities, their talents are static things that are sort of, you’re either good at, or you’re not good at. And especially in things where you’re, you’re good at it. It’s ironic, but takes mine set, people often avoid new challenges, because they’re worried about being exposed as a failure, or as not as smart as they think they are want others to think they are. So you know, for example, in my case of taking these exams, right, it would have been possible for me to want to avoid taking that exam at all, in case of failure, because I was, you know, in that era, I had a fixed mindset about my intelligence. And I believe that that test was a sign of how smart I was or not. And so, you know, if I hadn’t been cocky and young, I might have just avoided that thing altogether.

Fixed Mindset also leads people to avoid and and or ignore feedback that you get from other people, because you don’t, you don’t want criticism, you’re trying to defend your ego against any suggestion that you’re not as good at things as you think you are. And so feedback is dangerous. Likewise, you’re likelier to feel threatened by other people’s success, because you see it as a statement about your lack of success, you’re certainly more likely to hide flaws. So others won’t judge you witness my waiting 20 or more years before being willing to talk about my failure in public, because I was worried about getting judged by other people. And then I think one of the most insidious traps that the fixed mindset can lead us into is that because you think talent is the main or sole sort of input into your output, that your abilities as a writer are fixed, or your ability as a, you know, football player, or fixed or a musician that you don’t see effort and practice as worthwhile, or as worthwhile as People with a growth mindset, because you don’t really see yourself as improvable because you are what you are, right? And so, and, you know, I’m sort of thinking about the movie 21 Trump’s Jump Street right there, this guy’s go back to pretend to be high school students. And this one guy bullies, one of the kids go there, look at him, he’s trying, right? If you try and are judged is not hitting the line, right? This is can be really embarrassing for people. And so that’s, that’s a fixed mindset is when you’re afraid of getting called out as having tried and failed, right? That that’s a that’s a sign that you have a fixed mindset, and viewing feedback as personal criticism, right? When you’re unable to learn from feedback, because it just gets you so riled up. That’s a sign of a fixed mindset as as well. And so, in general, people with a fixed mindset are much more likely to give up earlier when frustration hits, because they start getting worried about what it says about them personally, that they’re having trouble getting something done, Oh, I must not be good at this. I’m gonna quit before anyone finds out that I was even trying. Right. So. So that’s kind of the growth versus fixed mindset. And, you know, the importance of, of the growth mindset is, is so vast, it’s hard to kind of encapsulate in a single podcast, but you know, just just a quick tally of the things that research shows, you know, first of all, people who have growth mindset just tend to be happier and more satisfied with life and their own activities, then people with a fixed mindset, I think, you know, maybe it’s connected to the sort of gratitude mindset, in a sense, but, but the growth mindset appears to link or drive people to be happier with things because they don’t define I think, everything they’re doing as a do or die moment. It’s all about getting better. It’s all about learning. It’s all about growing, right? When when you have a growth mindset, it’s the journey, not the destination, right? To borrow an overused phrase. But it’s also true that people with a growth mindset tend to be more productive, because in general, as you can tell from the just the preceding conversation, people the growth mindset are okay, taking on new challenges, because they’re not worried about failures as much. Let me no one wants to have setbacks and frustrations. But People with a growth mindset are like yeah, that’s part of the game of learning and growing and I’m not gonna let that stop me from continuing to press forward. Whereas people with a fixed mindset get so worried about being judged and about the what failure or frustrations and setbacks say about them personally as a person, or as a writer, or whatever, that they’re not willing to put themselves out there. And so they, they hold back. And so obviously, that’s not going to be great for productivity or for, you know, new achievements and so on. So when when researchers sort of catalog the mindsets of people who are super high achieving in various fields, it’s it’s really no surprise that almost all of them have a growth mindset.

Not all but but most. And also very interesting, I think, is that people with a growth mindset tend to have healthier relationships with other people, because they’re not worried about other people as as threats, right, other people’s success aren’t, aren’t threatening to them. And also because, you know, they can accept feedback and concern constructively as opposed to taking it personally and getting defensive, and so on. And so I think have an easier time collaborating, being parts of communities and groups and so on, which itself, as I’ve talked about before, can help you become a productive happy person. So I think it’s, it’s over determined how important growth is, for us as writers. And I think, you know, just again, to put a point on it, none of us today is the writer that we eventually want to be. And the only way to get to where you’re going is to grow, like by definition. And people with a fixed mindset are going to have a lot harder time growing and getting to where they’re trying to be if they have to be so concerned all the time about their self image, their own self, ego, sort of defense, and so on, if they have to, if they have to always get it by talent and getting it right the first time, as opposed to being willing to make mistakes and grow and learn from others. It’s a boy, that’s just a lot harder way to grow. So, you know, for me, since I think, you know, one of the things that it’s a universal among writers is that all writers look out and see other writers and go, Man, I wish I wrote dialogue like that person, man, their world building is so incredible, man, they’re, you know, whatever it might be. We see whatever genre we’re in whether we write fiction, nonfiction, academic, pulp, manga, doesn’t matter. There are people out there that you would kill to write like, right, or who are so productive that you wish you were half as productive as them whatever it might be, all of us know that there’s another level we might unlock. And to unlock, it means growing. And so a growth mindset is just a fundamental part of the writers mindset, in my opinion. So now, that if you could just snap your fingers and have a growth mindset, then it’ll be over. And we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And the problem is that, you know, nobody is all growth mindset, or all fixed mindset. We all have things where we are growth minded, and things where we’re less growth minded, more fixed. And, you know, like, for me, for example, I’m pretty growth oriented about writing, I’m pretty growth oriented about like, my athletic capability, like I can juggle, like, I’ve always been, you know, kind of proud I can juggle. And I’m not great juggler, like I, you know, learned how to juggle three balls pretty quick. That’s good. I don’t know how to, I know what to do to juggle four, I’m not good at it. But you know, I have a growth mindset, I think I could juggle four, and five, even in some number of months. If I just practiced at it, I have a growth mindset. On the other hand, I’m not as growth oriented around my artistic capability. I’m a doodler. I love doodling in the margins, but I cannot draw a face to save my life. I cannot draw realistic, you know, scenery, landscapes. Terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. And I want to say I believe that I could do a lot better, I’m sure I could never I have trouble believing at the same level. So my point is, as a writer, right, you’re going to face some areas where it’s harder to get rid of that fixed mindset, voice, and others. So I just wanted to read through a few, a few, you know, cut examples of where you might be running into some some of those fixed mindset, you know, narratives. And just just because I think none of us can really escape all of these, I’d be surprised if any of you listening can’t relate to any of these. So just for example, like, you know, my writing group didn’t didn’t like my new chapter they had criticisms about, about my new chapter. So now I feel like my book sucks. Or I see this all the time in writing Twitter, you know, I can’t get any editors to request my manuscript. I’m feeling like I can’t write I’ll never publish a book. People who are thinking about writing, you’ll sometimes hear people say, I can’t write a book I want to but I’m, I’m afraid to because it might suck or it might never get published. Or you hear people say,

interesting version of the fixed mindset is thank you You’re so good at something, you don’t need to work on it anymore. Like, I’m great at writing dialogue, I don’t need to work on my dialogue. It’s all you know. And so you’re not hearing anyone telling you, there might be improvements that you might be able to make with your dialogue. Or have you ever seen someone in the groups, right or a in the group, or the department gets a great book contract, and you immediately see or see read with jealousy. Because that means you’re a loser, or you’re a failure, because you don’t have a book contract. Maybe you have wanted to branch out and start writing in a different genre, but you have held yourself back, because you’re worried that you might not be any good at it. And your effort might be, quote, unquote, a failure. Perhaps you’ve looked at a famous writer and said, Well, you know, that person just got born talented. So I’m never gonna be that good. I don’t have that talent. Right. All of these narratives are, I think, pretty common out there. And they are, they are things that are purely, purely mindset orientations, they are not real observations, right? They are constructs in your head, that are keeping you keeping us from growing, keeping us from healthy approaches to our writing. So So what are the strategies we can use to fight back? Glad you asked. So let’s pick Strategies for Growing your growth mindset. Right now, the very first strategy, I think, is, you know, it, I think it’s a freebie in a sense, because just having listened to the podcast to this point, you now know that there is such a thing as a growth mindset, compared to a fixed mindset. And just knowing that is just recognizing that you have a choice that you can change your mindset, and that you have a choice, just knowing there’s such a thing as a growth mindset, frankly, is it unlocks the door to me. So the first strategy is just just to note that there are two ways that you might be thinking about something. And that if you find yourself thinking about things from a fixed mindset perspective, that there’s a choice, there’s another way to view it, right? And that you can choose to see things a different way. So that’s step one. Now, if it was that easy, we’d be done, we’re not done. So step one, step two, and this is where the work comes in, is that you need to fight that fixed mindset voice in your head, and learn to reframe the narrative. So let me read a few examples from the book where these are also pretty common situations we find ourselves in. And I’m going to sort of read the fixed mindset, sort of response that you might have, versus a growth mindset response that you might have. So let’s imagine that you have a new idea, but you’re having trouble getting started or acting on this new idea for a writing project. And a fixed mindset narrative in your head might be saying, I don’t know what to do, it’s never gonna happen. I better just forget about it. Whereas a growth mindset response might be, I’m not sure what to do next. But I’m going to just find a way to take the first couple of small steps to get things started. And I’ll figure it out from there. Maybe you’ve been having trouble getting your writing done to a schedule, a fixed mindset response, you look at this and say, I’m just terrible with schedules, I just can’t get things done on time. I don’t know what to do. A growth mindset response, on the other hand would be Well, I haven’t done that well, so far with deadlines, but I can learn to plan better to get things done on time. We all deal with negative reviews and responses rejections as as authors, a fixed mindset response to a negative review or rejection. My work is no good. I’m not good enough to get published, I should probably give up on this project. I shouldn’t I just can’t be a writer. A growth mindset response to negative reviews and rejection. On the other hand, my work needs to improve. I can learn from negative reviews from rejections. So that next time, my work has a better chance at publication, but about tackling a new challenge, maybe you’re thinking about writing a book for the first time, a fixed mindset response might be, I’m worried about rejection and worried about feeling unworthy, looking like a failure. So I’m going to stick with what I know. A growth mindset, on the other hand, would say, I’m gonna go for it because stretching to reach new goals is one of the best ways to grow and learn new things. So learning to reframe those fixed mindset voices through the growth mindset,

lens is the right once you’ve said, Hey, okay, I’ve got a choice. Here’s the message I’m hearing. You need to then think about how that should look from a growth mindset. I’m gonna I’ll put links to Carol Dweck book and a couple other nice articles. So you can get some more examples of how to reframe those narratives in your head. And this is not a once in, you’re done sort of thing. Okay, I’ve had that rejection conversation with myself once. I never have to worry about that again. Nope. Probably not true. If that’s one of your triggers, if that’s one of your landmines is rejections trigger a lot of that feeling for you, which is a pretty, pretty common thing, in my experience for people to have, you’re going to need to remind yourself of your growth, you know, mindset mantra every time you get a rejection, right? I mean, this just doesn’t, some of these things aren’t easy, right? I mean, nothing feels good about it, right? Having a growth mindset doesn’t mean it becomes easy to get rejected, or easy to get criticized. That that doesn’t, that’s not what it means it means you can learn from it, it means you don’t let it stop you. It doesn’t mean it feels great, right? So you’re going to still need to work at this. And the goal isn’t to ever necessarily, totally silence the fixed mindset. But what you’re trying to do is change it from being the knee jerk first response, and the one that dominates your actions moving forward. And you’re trying to substitute the growth mindset as the foundation for your strategies and your plans. So you’re, but you’re always gonna be doing that work. Now, it will get easier over time. Right? And and the next couple of strategies play into how to do that. So first strategy to recognize that you can change your mindset, you have a choice between the fixed on the growth. Second is fight back against that fixed mindset voice, those narratives. The third is resolve to learn as slowly as you need to write now, one of the things that is tough as a writer is, when you’re struggling with something, you’re writing a book for the first time writing a dissertation for the first time, whatever it might be. There are growing pains podcasting, for the first time I’m starting a newsletter doesn’t matter what it is, you’re gonna stink at it at first, right? I mean, it’s pretty easy to think of this. I think a good analogy is like learning a language. Right? No matter how talented you are, for languages, you don’t you don’t speak fluent French a day after you start? Nope. Right? You? Are you going to ever learn to be fluent without making mistakes? No. Right? So resolve to learn French, or writing or podcasting or whatever it might be as slowly as you need to, to learn it, right? It’s not always going to be fast. It there’s gonna be frustrations, there’s it’s gonna feel crappy and slow. And you might just, you know, feel really bad about yourself, because you’re not good at it yet. But just remember that everyone feels like that at first, right? Everyone, no one starts doing new things, and feels great about how it’s going right away.

Right? Just because it first you want to because you know where you want to be. And you know where you are now and just doesn’t feel good, right? But just remember, that’s how everyone feels right? And resolve to just allow it to be crappy, for as long as it needs to be crappy, before it starts getting better. Tell yourself, it’s gonna suck at first. But eventually, you’re going to get there and you won’t feel like that forever, right. And if you even just improve 1% a day, 1% a week, right? Eventually, you’re gonna get out of the basement and you’re gonna be, you’re gonna be living on the first floor, you can be living on the second floor sooner than you realize, right? And it’ll go a lot easier if you just resolve to learn as slowly as you need to just be able to sit with that. No strategy for is going to help you do that. And the strategy for is to celebrate and honor your mistakes, and the messiness of growth and learning. Right? I want you to get hyped for your first mistake for your first rejection for your first failure. Does that sound weird? I don’t think it should sound weird. In fact, I wish that every kid was raised like this, right? Instead of Let me see your homework. Did you get it? All right. Instead of you had to write a paper, you got 100% gold star. I want to see the failures. I want to see the drafts that that stunk. I want to see, I want to hear the French where you accidentally instead of saying how do you do you said you know, I hate your mother. Right? Those things are the reality. Right? And I wish every kid got raised in school and by their parents like this. And why? Because instead of and I can tell you this as a kid who was always getting good grades and got the gold stars. It’s it’s you’re walking a tightrope. Yes, it feels great when people pat you on the back for getting 100%. But what happens when you get a 90%? What happens if you forgot for me to get a 60% or 50%? All of a sudden, it’s like the world has flipped upside down and you have no value. Right? No one’s honoring the learning. They’re just honoring the pretty outcome. But none of us achieves a pretty outcome without hard work without frustrations without failures. And if we would only make it okay, and we would honor that process. We would free everyone up, especially kids, we would free everyone up to make whatever mistakes they need to make to learn at whatever pace they need to learn to get where they going. That’s, that’s what it’s all about, man. So, tell yourself, you’re gonna write down your first three mistakes and share them on Twitter, share them on Insta share on Facebook, let other people exalt with you in the messiness of your new learning. Right? Those are the gonna be the funny stories that you can tell later, those are gonna be the gifts you can give others as a social relief, when when they can learn from what’s usually hidden, right? Because people don’t usually tell these stories. So, so honor your mistakes. joke about it, let the universe conspired to help you when you acknowledge that it’s hard, right? And eventually, you know, you’re not gonna make those mistakes anymore. But honor them while you while you are. And then the last of the strategies is to challenge yourself. Right? If we don’t challenge ourselves, we’re never going to grow, we need to grow. We need to, we need to challenge ourselves, to build new muscles, to build new capabilities, new abilities, to scale, new heights, whatever it is. And so you need to set stretch goals for yourselves. You need to push yourself to do things you don’t know how to do right now. And and so to do that, you’re going to need to bring those four first strategies with you, recognizing that there are two mindsets and that you can choose fighting back against the fixed mindset voice, resolving to learn as slowly as necessary, honoring, celebrating your mistakes and the messiness of growth. Those are the key tools that will allow you to take on new challenges without worrying that they’re gonna break you without worrying that they’re gonna define you if you fail or have setbacks. Those are the things they’re gonna let you cobble your way towards. The next great thing that you’re going to write, and you are you’re going to write great things, but it’s not going to come without struggle and hard work, and practice and do overs and rejections and criticisms. It’s going to come with all those things, but that’s okay. Right? It’s all about the growth.

Alright, so that’s a lot to chew on. So, take a week and chew on that and until we see each other next time, happy writing

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