This post is an exerpt from my new book, The Craftsman Creative Manifesto. You can get a copy for yourself using the link at the bottom of the page.
When I was a kid, as the oldest of four, the only thing I really wanted was to be the best at everything. I blame half of it on the oldest-child syndrome…
No matter what I did, whether I was the “best” or not, it seemed like my parents would always say “you’re so good at this! You’re a natural! You’re so gifted!”
Later, I would hear them talk about me to others with similar enthusiasm. I began to believe that there were things that I was just naturally, inherently good at. As good as it felt at the time to have such positive reinforcement from my parents, it also meant, by default, that there were also things that I wasn’t good at.
The consequences of this mindset – often referred to as a “fixed” mindset – didn’t show up in my life until a little later in my early teens. I would have a desire to try something, like try out for the baseball team, but then I would look at how good the other kids were, make a quick assessment, and judge myself as not naturally good enough. So I would quit.
I didn’t see these as “bad” consequences. It was just life as I knew it.
Other things, however, I’d try for the first time, like volleyball, and as soon as the coach or the other players recognized what I thought was my “natural talent”, I’d devote all of my efforts into becoming the best. I was the captain of the varsity volleyball team in my junior year of school, despite never playing the sport before.
Then, I got to college. I came in on a saxophone scholarship and was expecting to walk right into the first chair in the jazz band. Reality hit me, and hard.
I wasn’t nearly good enough to be the lead player. I didn’t even make the top band. There were easily a dozen other sax players that were better than me, more naturally better than me, I thought.
A few years later I stopped playing the saxophone.
Throughout college, I quit a lot of things because, I thought, others were just more naturally gifted, and so, therefore, I had no business even trying.
In my mid-twenties when I had started my own business. I was fresh out of school and was trying to make a living, but was failing spectacularly. For the first time in my whole life, I made a different choice. What if I just tried really hard? Could I actually become “the best” at something that I wasn’t “naturally” good at?
I grew that business into a now 12+ year career in film and television, where I am now no longer just a sound guy, but also a writer and a producer, currently working on an Emmy-nominated TV show.
For the first time, I realized that the worldview I was raised with was a limiting one. I was taught that I could only do what I was naturally good at – at least that’s the lesson I took from it.
Reality is much different:
We are in complete control of our destinies – our happiness, our careers, our work, our mindset.
We can literally do anything we set our mind to. THAT is the difference found in what is often referred to as the “growth” mindset.
As we go forward pursuing our dreams and our goals, it is absolutely imperative that we learn and cultivate a growth mindset, a firm belief that we are capable of learning, doing, becoming anything we want.
It takes work, it takes overcoming our fears, it takes literally changing the connections in our brains. But it’s the truth: we can do it. In order to succeed, we must do it.
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