Learning to Fail

Failure feels like a gut wrenching, stomach curdling, humiliating experience. We want to crawl under a stone and not re-emerge until everyone has forgotten our very existence. We feel it acutely, it rings a death knoll on our self-esteem, knocks another chip off our crumbling confidence.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

And yet, within it lies a kernel of hope. Because if we can bring ourselves to look closely at the failure, to dig deeply, and unravel its layers we will find something that we can learn from. And in that learning we build something better, create something new, move forward again at a higher level. Those who become very successful are even able to say that they are grateful for their failures. It made them stronger, more resilient, more creative, more adaptable, more persistent. Failure helps us grow.

 “Success consists of going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm” Winston Churchill

The sooner you can start failing the better; get used to it early on, learn to learn from it. Before long you stop even thinking of it as failure or disappointment and you start to see it as another adaptation phase, a readjustment, a retuning, a pit-stop for a wheel change.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

I met a woman at a drinks party who told me she was seeing a psychotherapist; she was terribly depressed after a major life event but her recovery had been knocked back by something that had happened to her recently that had shaken her to her core. She told me that for the first time in her life she had failed, at something that she had always been brilliant at. I raised my champagne glass “Congratulations!” She looked at me aghast. I continued “I bet you have lived your life in terror of that happening?” “I wasn’t allowed to fail.” she replied. “So, now you know that when you failed, the world didn’t explode and you didn’t die, that must be a relief?” “But I musn’t fail.” “It happens to us all at some point.” “Not me.” “Even you.” “Actually I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I just thought I’d nail it. It was just the next thing to do in my career. I hadn’t realized I wanted it so much.” “Where does that leave you now?” “I’m going to take a bit of time out. Then focus on it properly, give myself another chance.” In the space of a few minutes her perception of her failure had turned on its head. She was still disappointed but less angry with herself. She learned that she had taken success for granted and she realized she could learn from her failure. I could see she had taken a little step towards recovery.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery”Samuel Smiles, The Lives Of George And Robert Stephenson

And you can’t learn from other people’s failures to avoid the pitfalls. There are many books promising the Ultimate Steps to Success, what to do and what not to do. But in truth, we have to make our own mistakes, trip over our own tails and fall flat on our faces, in order to work out how to pick ourselves up, shift our approach and try again. The Lean Start Up Principle works on this idea. You try something, see how it works, how it is received, find out the problems, fix them, make adjustments, build up a little more, get feedback, adjust, push forward, assess, fine-tune, grow etc. It is a never-ending process. There is no Nirvana moment that you reach where you lie back and bask in the glory of success. Life and business alike are organic processes that need the world to respond and interact with them. The world is constantly changing and cantankerous, and so its responses to you, change too. What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow. You have to be creative, receptive, adaptable. When something stops working, or something new is criticized or worse, ignored, don’t see this failure as disaster but merely as feedback to point to what you need to do next. Failure calls for thought, observation, consideration, analysis and then reinvigorated energy and action.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

When a relationship fails, there is the time for sorrow and then comes the time to pick up the pieces and start over. Unless you want a repeat failure in the next relationship you know you have to look back a little, learn a lot, and put on a new coat of determination and resolve to not make the same mistakes again. It is the same in all areas of our lives; it is our ability to honestly appraise ourselves, that keeps us humans moving forward in an upwardly direction. To be continuously evolving in a positive way we must reflect on the outcomes of our decisions and act with discipline to correct our errors.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

One of the measures of entrepreneurial success is when a business is still around after four years. Here are some facts on startups:

25 percent fail in the first year.

36 percent have failed after the second year.

44 percent have failed after the third year.

Even with blood, sweat and tears, they still fail. And this is NORMAL. It is what happens. You may not have the Dragon’s Den brigade shouting you out with a big Thumbs Down but you know when the proverbial s*** has hit the fan. All hell has broken loose, you’re standing on the edge of the abyss but you can’t just brush it off and say well, that’s my life over, I may as well go jump into my grave now. You have to get back in the ring; you have to reboot. If you believe in Evolution, then you’ll know why we are no longer apes. We have evolved because we got banjaxed enough times for our brains to decide they’d had enough, and that it’s time for a change. Incremental shifts, over long periods of time, but sure enough eventually most of us are able to walk tall, not have to shave our entire bodies and have developed more delicate knuckles. We can also make decisions on what it is good for us and what isn’t, and act accordingly. Ditch the glue-sniffing and practice the piano more. For example.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Of course there are ways to minimize the impact of failure and to turn it into a useful and creative thinking tool. It is important to understand your strengths, loves, skills and to acknowledge your weaknesses. Get help from people who are good at the things that you aren’t. Regularly appraise where you’re at, measure it against what you know, learn up on what you don’t know, recognize early when you need to make adjustments, keep looking, observing, analyzing and acting on feedback and your own intuition. Lay out your assumptions against what you have accomplished and lessons learned. Constantly incorporate what you have learned into your decisions and actions. Accept failure, learn from it and move on. Some of the best things rise Phoenix-like from the ashes of seeming disaster.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Need help bouncing back from failure? Work with a Creative Thinking Coach and learn how to build on failure to create a life well lived. Email me on Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my daily inspirational Picture Posts on Twitter: @createlab Instagram: create_lab Facebook: Lou Hamilton

Photo-quote by Lou Hamilton

Photo-quote by Lou Hamilton

Motivational Mondays: I am not Creative

“I’m not creative” is a defensive strike, stated loudly by those wishing to dissociate themselves from Strange Artistic Types. Fear not, opening up to your sleeping creativity will not immediately have you spraying anonymous politico-art statements on the side of bridges or get you suspended from a gallery ceiling while people throw paper balls at you. Here is a fact. To think creatively you do not have to be an Artist.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Yes Artists have finely tuned their creative thinking skills, which they use in the pursuit of Art. But you too can get your creativity out from under the dustcovers of primary school, which was the last time most of us were encouraged to use it, spritz it with a good dose of WD40 and get cracking on directing it in any way you want. But to do that lets first understand what it is, how we can improve it and then how to put it to good use.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

By nature humans are creative. We are curious, we challenge, we play with ideas, we experiment, we investigate, we invent, we innovate, we imagine, we change, we conceptualise, we solve problems. That is how humanity has developed. And the ability to use it is one the most critical life skills we can develop. We have a monopoly on it. No animal or supercomputer can compare to our capability to think creatively. And if you are choosing a career or business, find one that has infinite capacity to expand on your creativity. Creative Thinking can’t be outsourced to China. Developing it will keep you constantly in demand. It differentiates you from those who are bound by logical, traditional, linear thinking and systemized, number crunching, rule-laden productivity. Build your creative muscle and it will give you the edge. Be the one to generate ideas and procedures, notice how elements can be improved and implemented to make the whole more efficient, more enticing, more in demand.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

David and Tom Kelly of the innovative global design company IDEO, responsible for Apple’s first mouse and Proctor & Gamble’s stand-up toothpaste dispenser, have written a book called Creative Confidence. In it they tell the story of a guy called Doug Deitz who helps lead design and development of high-tech medical imaging systems for GE Healthcare, an $18 billion division of one of the largest companies in the world. His multimillion-dollar CT Scanners peer painlessly inside the human body in ways that would have been considered extraordinary not that long ago.

A few years back, Doug completed a project on a CT scanning machine that he had spent two and a half years working on. When he got the opportunity to see it installed in a hospital’s scanning department, he jumped at the chance. Standing next to his new machine, Doug talked with the technician who was operating it that day. He told her that the CT scanner had been submitted for an International Design Excellence Award—the “Oscars of design”—and asked her how she liked its new features.

Doug was patting himself on the back for a job well done, his question somewhat rhetorical. What happened next certainly wasn’t what he was expecting. The technician asked him to leave, so that her patient could have her scan. He walked out into the corridor and saw the frail girl walking towards him, gripping her parents’ hands, visibly frightened, her parents no less anxious; all in anticipation of her having to climb inside Doug’s machine. As the family passed by, Doug saw the girl was crying.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

In all his self-congratulation Doug had never considered what it was actually like for a child to lie down on the sliding base and be maneuvered into the claustrophic, cylindrical tomb, having to be completely still and alone whilst bombarded by unfamiliar mechanical sounds. In fact most children had to be sedated in order to lie still long enough for the equipment to do its job. It had never once dawned on him that using his ground-breaking machine was so utterly terrifying. The incident shook him to the core. Rather than an elegant, sleek piece of technology, worthy of accolades and admiration, his innovation was the source of anguish and misery.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Doug consulted with his friends and colleagues, wracking his brains for a solution. Someone suggested he attend a week-long executive creative education workshop that would test and challenge his perceptions. He was introduced to the idea of human-centred approach to design and innovation. Instead of thinking about the function and aesthetics of his machine, he thought about the child who was to use it. It re-invigorated his creative confidence. He experimented and played with the concepts that arose around the child’s experience, building on a cross-pollination of ideas with the others in the group. He learned to look outside of his usual frame of reference.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Back home his creative instincts took hold as he talked to child life specialists and paediatric experts and he studied children at play, absorbing what engaged, inspired and excited them. What he came up with completely transformed the children’s experience. He created his ‘Adventure Series’, turning the CT scanning machines into an adventure, decorating them as spaceships or pirate ships, with the staff in character leading the child in the starring role, onto their voyage. The amount children needing to sedated during the scanning process was dramatically reduced.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

With a spin of creative thought he learned to design not from his ego but from the perspective of the child. He boosted his creative mindset and challenged himself to push beyond the status quo. When we do this we build our creative confidence and we are able to increase the span of our vision. We can have a greater positive impact on the world around us in our lives and at work as we approach problems with our children, our partners, colleagues, and clients, with empathy and intuition.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Creative thinking opens us up to a whole realm of opportunities. Look at The Internet, Space-travel, the Wheel. Wherever we turn we come across the results of someone’s creativity. We are surrounded by potential waiting for us to grab hold of it and turn it into something life-enhancing. The more we look, observe and question the more we can make the most of our lives and our businesses. How can we make money while we sleep, how can we eat more healthily on a budget, how can we stay youthful looking without injecting rat poison into our skin, how can we help our children to develop their ideas and become independent confident young people, how can we avoid getting miserable in the winter, how can we find our passion and purpose, how can can we get more fun out of a longstanding relationship, how can we revamp our wardrobe, how can we grow our business without working ourselves to an early grave?

Photo-hailu by Lou Hamilton

Photo-haiku by Lou Hamilton

By asking questions we can instigate and manifest positive change. Using our creative thinking skills we develop a more active and less passive role in our own lives. We implement, cope with and adapt to change. By building our creative muscle we will trust our intuition, act on our instincts and be in the driver’s seat on a journey of opportunity, growth, fulfillment and transformation.

Photo by Lou Hamilton

Photo by Lou Hamilton

So next time you are stuck, ask yourself, how else can I think about this? Write down the problem and brainstorm all other possibilities, keep asking why and how, challenge your first responses, talk to other people, research other approaches, don’t accept a solution until it takes you to where you want to be. Understand it is a process of questioning, challenging and transforming, all in the pursuit of something better.

If you want to feel good, work well and build a better life, invest in a Creative Thinking coach who will work with you to develop your creative thinking skills. Email me on Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my daily Picture Posts on Twitter: @createlab.co.uk Instagram: create_lab Facebook: Lou Hamilton

Motivational Mondays: Impossibly Positive?

Self-help, self-improvement, personal development, all lumped under the Think Positive banner, come in for a lot of stick. Positivity is blasted for not being possible for those who live in the real world…

air-time to good thoughts

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

 

…the world where people are broke, un or underemployed, penalised, victimised, ostracised, bullied and marginalised. Where real people suffer from depression, disease, discrimination and demoralisation. How can they possibly be positive when the cards are stacked so heavily against them? The truth is, those who do try to make a positive difference in their lives, have often also similarly struggled at some point. Usually they have tried absolutely everything else and nothing has worked. Then, they happen across a different way of thinking which includes developing a positive mental attitude.

do it differently

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to most people. It is hard work and takes practice and creativity. It is not a sticking plaster or cure all, but it makes the difference between “my life is ***” and “how do I make my life better?” Positivity is simply a platform for creative thinking to get to work; another tool in our survival toolbox.

who is your wise person

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

I once heard a Buddhist man give a talk. (Buddhism is an ancient proponent for positive thinking) He had suffered all his life with severe depression. He knew the depths his mind could spiral down to. After studying positive psychology and Buddhist philosophy he started to work on his mindset. He said that he learned to throw up a big mental STOP in his head the split second he started to motor down the road to negativity. He knew he couldn’t afford the price of even one moment of unhelpful thinking. He would get up, do something physical, distract himself in any way possible just to stop the internal negative chatter.  For the first time ever, he felt that he was the one in control and not his thoughts. He could never be complacent though. The toads of mental torture were ready to jump in at any moment; and he had to continuously work to keep them at bay. But practice makes perfect and he says most of the time he’s the boss.

scare away your bogey-men

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Positivity is not some mealy-mouthed approach of the already eternally optimistic minded. Far from it. Choosing to flip thinking from despair to self-determined direction comes from necessity.  It is sucked up by people who are not going to take the shit lying down and it takes a superhuman effort to consistently and patiently overturn the rocks thrown at them.

persistence is a long road

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Conversely, I’ve heard people say that a lack of positivity is to blame for not overcoming bad situations, for losing the battle against depression. I don’t believe that. For some people life has it’s own agenda and no amount of positive thinking is going to change it. (That way lies psychiatry and medication). Still, we can attempt to stay on top of it while we can. Channel 4 news recently interviewed a mother dying of cancer. She said that she wanted to make the most of her last days. She was devastated to be leaving her children behind but she wanted to enjoy what little time she had left with them. In the face of tragedy she found the courage to look for whatever comfort she could find. Being positive was a last gift to herself and her family.

make a sad person happy

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

THE SCIENCE

The supporters of the Science of Positive Psychology aren’t invested in just trying to help treat people who have mental health issues or coping with intensely traumatic life and death situations. They believe (and this is coaching territory) in helping everybody with ‘normal’ lives to build an optimistic outlook that makes the most of what they have. They believe that people have the right and the ability to be happier and more fulfilled. Positive Psychology is just as concerned with human strength as human weakness. It is just as interested in building strength as repairing damage. According to Martin Seligman co-founder of Positive Psychology, it is just as much determined to build happiness as relieve misery. It is not enough to help people be not angry, not sad, not jealous, not depressed. That just gets them from minus to zero. What is required is to get people to a PLUS state. And this is where we get into the full meaning of Positive functioning which includes pleasure, engagement and meaning.

the successful take risks

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

The scientists can now measure our levels of happiness. Their definition of authentic “Happiness” is broken down into three areas:

The Pleasant life: being in possession of as many superficially positive emotions and pleasures as you can and learning the skills that amplify and stretch those eg savouring the moment with mindfulness. The main drawback of this is you get used to it quickly and it takes more to reach the same level of satisfaction. You are always chasing the next fun thing. (Therein lies the path to addiction)

The Good Life: a life of engagement in work, parenting, love, leisure. These people are very good at getting themselves into the state of flow because they do what they love and they surround themselves with positively engaged people. In a state of Flow, time stops, they are unaware of its passing. They don’t feel anything, they are in intense concentration. To obtain this know what your 5 highest strengths are, recraft your work, love, play to use these strengths as much as you possibly can. 

The Meaningful Life: knowing what your strengths are and using them in the service of something bigger than you. The act of philanthropic pursuit arouses a longterm sense of positivity and well-being. The challenge in 21st century is to use technology, entertainment and design  as drivers not just to increase people’s pleasure zones but to help them engage with and contribute to the world at large. People tested for all three lives came out top in happiness, satisfaction & fulfilment, when they felt they live a meaningful life.

make music in any way

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

So when life looks bleak identify your main strengths and values, apply them in a way that will fully engage you, and learn to build your positive mindset through creating a meaningful life, full of purpose. If you need help doing this, invest in a Creative Thinking Coach. Email me to find out more: Lou@createlab.co.uk

For daily, inspirational Picture Posts follow me on Twitter @createlab.co.uk Instagram create_lab and Facebook Lou Hamilton

IMG_7031

Photo-quote by Lou Hamilton

Motivational Mondays: Hope you like jamming too

Life is one long Improvisation. We plan stuff, then other stuff crops up and we have to think on our feet; as Bob Marley sang “We’re jamming, hope you like jamming too”… 

drawing by Lou Hamilton

drawing by Lou Hamilton

David Nicholls writes in his book US “A great deal of stress is placed on the importance of humour in the modern relationship. Everything will be all right, we are led to believe, as long as you can make each other laugh, rendering a successful marriage as, in effect, fifty years of improv.”

drawing by Lou Hamilton

drawing by Lou Hamilton

But there is a difference between fire-fighting through our days and improvising. To live an improvised life is to live in the moment, acutely atuned to one’s surroundings, to other people, listening, observing and responding spontaneously without preparation or pre-meditation. It makes everything feel alive, vivid and pin-sharp. There is no sluggishness or panic in this approach, it is quick, responsive and exciting. An improvised life is full of colour and laughter.

Look beyond the frame

drawing by Lou Hamilton

I went to a show once called Showstoppers where the performers have a bunch of props and costumes and the audience shouts out suggestions for a title, characters, story and the team improvises a full length musical, stopping every so often for updated plot points thrown in from the audience. It’s an extraordinary and unique way to produce a show; we are on the edge of our seats because we don’t have the faintest idea what will happen next and neither do the performers.

The ability to improvise requires letting go of feeling self-conscious, of your known responses, of what’s right. It uses gut instinct and the ability to act on intuition. It requires you to trust yourself and your abilities. Generally we learn to live in a very prescribed way, it feels safe on the well-worn path. We dampen down the voices that cry out to try something different, from fear of risk or of appearing foolish. Or heaven forbid, from making mistakes. We tread carefully and we reduce the expanse of what life could be.

drawing by Lou Hamilton

drawing by Lou Hamilton

I learned to play the piano by reading sheet music. I could play Rachmaninov but not without the score in front of me. I was schooled in playing what I could read. I had no sense of music coming from within. I was a musical typist I was later told by a musical improv teacher. Harsh but true. I couldn’t jam on the keys for toffee. I couldn’t let go. The piece of paper with black notes in front of me kept me safe. There would be no toppling off what I knew. Then I met a friend who improvises on the piano to silent films, on stage, in public. The horror. I asked how she could do such a thing without drowning in terror. She said simply, she parks her ego before she sits at the keyboard, watches the film and responds to it. She allows the music to flow out of her.

I thought it was a good recipe that could be applied to other areas of my life. I wanted to be a better film director, to be able to work with actors, using their language. So I braced myself and enrolled in an improvisation class for directors with Showstoppers performer Sean McCann. How excruciatingly uptight we all were to start with, our egos smarting with humiliation at the very thought of playing the fool. But slowly Sean punctured our self-conscious poses with exercises and games, thrusting us out of ourselves, until we could carouse around the room like kids on a sugar-high. We were unburdened and limitless. We listened acutely, we responded to the moment; the other person being paramount in our attention. We were generous, we didn’t block each other, our imaginations were set free, we played and experimented. We laughed, cried and howled to the moon. We performed and our movements, reactions, exploits and intentions felt true, real and natural, because they were. We had learned to tap into the core of ourselves and to trust it.

turn confusion on its head

According to Clayton D. Drinko PhD “Scientists at Johns Hopkins University, for instance, have put jazz improvisers into MRI machines and had them play little keyboards. Then they had the musicians play four different things: a memorized scale, an improvised scale, a memorized song, and an improvised song. The brain scans showed that, even when improvising simple scales, the jazz musicians’ brains were affected differently when improvising than when playing a memorized score. The dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex decreased in activity. This region of the brain has been linked with self-censorship. It’s the little voice that tells you, “No, I wouldn’t say that if I were you.” The part of the brain called the medial pre-frontal cortex increased in activity, and this region has been linked to creativity, self-expression, and intuition. They then stuck rappers into MRI machines in a different study and had similar results. Improvisation, whether with musical notes or words, changes the way the brain works.”

 

drawing by Lou Hamilton

drawing by Lou Hamilton

So how do we free ourselves up in everyday life? The art is to get outside of our heads, stop dwelling on the past, stop anticipating the future, focus on the moment, put your full attention on the other person and listen. Don’t block them with ‘No buts’ but encourage with “Yes and…” Roll with it, see where it takes you. Suddenly the world will come into sharp focus, you will notice details that blurred before, you will feel more energetic and enthusiastic. You will be less self-centred and self-censored. The more you do it, the easier it will become. Life will feel more fun and spontaneous and your relationships will improve because what are a few face-plants between friends?

Maybe it’s no coincidence that Improvisation, is made of the word IMPROVE.

Want to learn to enjoy life a bit more? Hook yourself up with a Creative Thinking Coach and have someone who will guide, support and encourage you along the way. Email me on Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow me for daily Picture Posts on twitter: @createlab Instagram: create_lab Facebook: Lou Hamilton

IMG_7004

Motivational Mondays: 10,000 hours to Mastery

There’s not an artist, musician or sportsperson who doesn’t understand the 10,000 hour rule. No matter how inherently talented they are, they know that to get better they have to keep practicing. Regularly, every day, forever.

be intrepid

illustration by Lou Hamilton

The same is true for the rest of us. Part of life-satisfaction comes from finding what we enjoy doing and then pushing ourselves, a little past our comfort zone, to keep trying to do it better. Sometimes that includes the mundane, it often feels hard and always requires grit. Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It’s going hammer and tongs for about ten years with focused effort to get even close to Mastery. Of course we never reach absolute Mastery or perfection, but it is the seductive allure that keeps us going.

spring into action

illustration by Lou Hamilton

Carol Dweck, psychology professor at Stanford University says “Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it. It would be an impoverished existence if you were not willing to value things and commit yourself to working toward them”

many ways forward

illustration by Lou Hamilton

Some people think Mastery is only for the talented. But Mastery is a choice, a mindset, a determination. The old Entity theory believed that intelligence or talent is hard-wired with a finite supply handed out only to the lucky ones, the rest of us left scrabbling for the remaining crumbs. However, the shiny new Incremental Theory has much more interesting things to say on the subject. It works on the belief that the mind is a muscle and needs constant work to gradually pump it up. We build intelligence, skill and talent. Musicians know this to be fact. No matter what bright little stars they were at five, they are not going to be walking the boards towards the grand piano at Carnegie Hall until they have worked their fingers to the bone to improve their game.

together we achieve great things

illustration by Lou Hamilton

Your ‘thing’ may not be to tinkle the keys of the Moonlight Sonata, but as long as your starting point is something that you could enjoy doing a lot, for a long period of time, then you can work towards Mastery and life-satisfaction. Choose something that will give you the opportunity to grow and develop ad infinitum. You will never regret it. The process of stretching that mastery mindset muscle, is powerfully life enhancing. It doesn’t require Gongs, Trophies, Oscars or Big Bucks to bring a sense of achievement. It delivers that on its own. As Dweck says “the goal is to learn” not to prove you’re smart.

there's a time to be still

illustration by Lou Hamilton

In her book the ‘Power of Yet’ Dweck describes her extensive work with children on the subject of Gifted or Learned Ability. She devised studies with two groups of students. One who believed themselves to be naturally gifted and another who were not burdened with this label. The tasks set were for children much older than the kids in either group, so essentially beyond the ability of any of the children selected. Dweck found that when the Naturally Gifted discovered they couldn’t do the tasks, they blamed the game and gave up. The other group, the Willing Learners, didn’t blame anything or anyone. They knuckled down, enjoyed the challenge and kept persevering through the difficulties, trying different approaches until they had achieved an end result. They weren’t hampered by a belief in their own in-built ability, they simply knew they didn’t know and set about learning how.

leaders know when to follow

illustration by Lou Hamilton

How liberating to set out into the world as explorers and Willing Learners, with a mindset open to expansion, buzzing with curiosity and commitment. Imagine how schools could help young people develop this way of thinking if education was not about getting an A* in French but about building up an ability to speak the language over many years, with exposure, encouragement, engagement and exploration. Take out the Ego of End results and put in the perseverance of ongoing process. My daughter struggled in her Spanish A level but instead of worrying about what result comes back to her on a piece of paper in August she is making plans to go to South America, volunteer to work with young children and improve her Spanish language that way. She has a learning approach to mastery, certainly not an entrenched gridlocked belief in her own static hard-wired ability. Improving her Spanish will become part of her life because it will be useful and enjoyable in an elastic and expansive experience of exploring the world.

learn to bounce back

illustration by Lou Hamilton

Everyone has the ability to move mountains, it’s just done one clod of earth at a time.

If you want to learn more about mastering something in your life why not work with a Creative Thinking Coach. Email me on Lou@createlab.co.uk

For inspirational daily Picture Posts and illustrations follow me on Twitter @createlab or Instagram create_lab or Facebook Lou Hamilton

what's your peace-point

illustration by Lou Hamilton