Today, on #IrishWritersWed, author Colleen Coleman takes us all on a journey of personal growth.
Colleen is very much in favour of attaining what is known as ‘The Growth Mindset’. This process assists in enabling us to face challenges with a more positive approach, thus empowering us all in our daily lives.
Here Colleen explores this approach, explaining how a ‘mindset resuffle‘ has been of great benefit in her productivity as a writer and for her overall well-being….
Nurturing A Growth Mindset
by Colleen Coleman
With a growth mindset, your work is clear. You keep chiselling away. Your flaws and obstacles are just a to-do list of ways to improve.’
Vision, desire, risk, skill and hard graft, that’s all it takes,. Add persistent rejections and revisions and reviews, and what do you get? Personal and professional success.
Why is it, then, that some creatives who are passionate about their craft and have opportunities to refine their skills tend to shut their eyes, turn their backs and run for cover?
I can tell you exactly why, as I have been there myself.
Years of entering competitions- only to hear nothing back. Years of full exposure to feedback from online forums and writing groups left me in despair as I’d just focus on the negative. The burn of reading rejections from agencies made me feel like I wanted to give up. The thing I loved most in the world, writing, just lead to on-going criticism and flaw-finding. My heart was sunk. My spirit drained. What was the point? Almost everything was wrong and nothing felt good enough.
And then I had my aha! moment.
Not everything was wrong. Some things were alright and some things were even pretty good. I wasn’t where I wanted to be.. just yet. But everything I was learning brought me closer. I was on my way.
A chance article I read on growth mindset completely changed the way I approached my journey.
No more dead-ends, only cross-roads.
No more set-backs, only reflection points.
No more striving for perfection, but celebrating progress.
The impact this shift in my thinking had on me can’t be over-estimated. It empowered me to face my worst fears of failure, to sift through the feedback, the emails, the comments and criticisms and ask myself, what can I learn from this? What can I take that is constructive? What is here that can improve my work and help me to refine it?
This is the point where my journey changed.
Because once I stopped dwelling on the negative and started engaging with the process, my work got better. My confidence grew. My ambition fortified. Credible advice, guidance and comment were no longer my kryptonite, they became my fuel. Within months, I submitted again and this time, there was good news in my inbox.
The power of a growth mindset isn’t just useful for writing. It has touched every part of my life, from learning to drive as a late-bloomer to getting on the scales at a slimming club. I now focus on the process, celebrate the progress; take what I need to move forward.
I started reading and researching more. This stuff is interesting, and moreover, it works. A leader in this field, Dr.Carol Dweck identifies two basic mindsets: growth and fixed.
The Growth Mindset
People with a growth mindset recognize that knowledge and skills arise from effort – they view intelligence and talent as products of work. They realize that our creative powers aren’t genetically preset because the neurons in our brains can continually make fresh connections.
Growth mindset individuals tend to:
1. Enjoy challenges
2. Be undaunted, even motivated by setbacks
3. Seek advice and criticism
4. Regard errors as instructive
5. Bounce back from disappointments
6. Draw inspiration from the successes of others
The Fixed Mindset
Individuals who harbour a fixed mindset believe, often unconsciously, that one’s ability reflects their innate talent. They might see themselves and others as either smart or stupid rather than acknowledging that skilfulness and intelligence are grown.
Dr. Dweck observes that fixed mindset individuals tend to:
1. Shy away from challenges
2. Become easily frustrated
3. Seek praise rather than advice
4. Perceive errors as personal failures
5. Give up after being disappointed
6. Feel diminished by others’ successes
Keeping the faith
Given the anti-creative force of the fixed mindset, I try to foster the growth mindset every time I have a big challenge ahead; a major re-write, a bout of writers’ block, a tricky edit. I want to affirm to myself and others that everyone us has the potential to enjoy lifelong creative development.
For instance, if I catch myself staring at the screen and using fixed mindset language – perhaps telling myself that ‘ I can’t meet this deadline’ – I take it as a cue for a “mindset re-shuffle.”
I take a moment to reflect on the relationship between effort and attainment, drawing on models of renowned high-achievers who embraced the journey, and I find myself renewed. And more efficient. And more productive. And more excited.
And I truly hope that’s what shines through my stories.
Colleen Coleman is an Irish-Canadian novelist. She is the winner of the much-coveted Novelicious Undiscovered People’s Choice Award launched to find the next ‘chick-lit star’.
She spent over ten years working as a teacher of English and Philosophy before finally taking a deep breath, scrunching her eyes shut, putting her pen to paper and vowing not to lift it again until she wrote the words The End. As a result, her first novel was born.
Colleen lives between London, Ireland and Cyprus with her very patient husband and very chatty twin daughters. Don’t Stop Me Now, her first book was released in March 2017 and reached bestseller status world-wide. . I’m Still Standing was released in September 2017 to great acclaim and is set to be another smash hit.
Two new books for 2018 in the pipeline.