Are success and failure really opposites?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called “What is failure? What is success?

As I went to publish the post, I searched for a graphic to go with it, and I was so struck by how the graphics I found showed success and failure as opposites — two things moving away from each other.

Here you can see what I mean:

failure & success

Or this version:

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Pretty much the same thing, right?

Here’s another one:

Success And Failure Photo

The problem I have with these graphics is that they defy logic. I guess we’re supposed to assume that at a key crossroads in our lives we have to make the “right” decision in order to succeed. If we don’t make that “right” decision, we’ll fail. And sure, I suppose there are some truly right and wrong answers, but particularly when it comes to something like “success”, which can have so many different relative definitions, how can there always be one clear answer?

As I discussed in my earlier article, Thomas Edison made endless numbers of attempts to perfect his lightbulb. Were those attempts “failures”? Sure, I suppose in some sense they are. But didn’t those “failures” ultimately lead him to success?

And doesn’t make these graphics inherently flawed?

When you think about it, showing success and failure existing in opposite spaces is a perfect example of a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth” mindset, like Carol Dweck writes about in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.*

Dweck says that a fixed mindset is a belief that “your qualities are fixed in stone” and creates “an urgency to prove yourself over and over.” This kind of thinking leads us to believe that we only have a certain amount of talent, intelligence or character and there’s nothing we can do to improve it — save possibly making the “right” choices.

This ties right into this black or white thinking of success and failure existing only as opposites.

The growth mindset on the other hand, is “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” This means that “a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”

If we adopt more of a growth mindset about success, it seems to me, we want a graphic that looks something more like this:

pathtosuccess

Or even like this:

pathtosuccess2

Your turn

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the blog.

Warmly,

 Jenna

You may also be interested in:

 

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When to look for a mentor — or not

The other day I spoke to prospective client.

She said, “I just don’t know how you can help me. I mean, I already know what I have to do, I just have to do it, right?”

The answer, on some level, is “Yes, of course.”

On the other hand, the beauty of having a coach or a mentor is that you have someone with you to help you through the tricky rough spots, to hold your hand when you lose your way, and to offer a fresh perspective when you can’t see the forest for the trees.

There are many different kinds of support like this out in the world, and the key is knowing WHEN you don’t need help and when you do.

How to decide if you’re not ready for mentoring right now, or maybe it’s time to move on

You might not be ready for mentoring right now, if:

  • You are having trouble listening to your own voice. Sometimes, and this is true for many seekers, we take in so much information, training, and guidance from other people that we lose sight of our own knowing. This is a good time NOT to work with a mentor, but rather the time to take a break, turn inward for a while, and tune into your own voice. The exception to this would be working with a coach or mentor who specializes in helping you access your own inner wisdom, guidance, and intuition rather than directing you with their own.
  • Your mentor has only one right way of doing things and/or isn’t teaching you to “fish” for yourself. Ideally you’ll want to have a mentoring relationship where your mentor is truly imparting the knowledge that will help you fly on your own, someday soon. If you’re working with someone who is just doing the heavy-lifting for you, you won’t get as much out of the relationship as you deserve.
  • It’s not in your budget or it’s not the right program. It is important to invest wisely in mentoring. I’ve seen far too many people invest ridiculous amounts of money in high-end coaching programs that sound good on paper but aren’t specific to their concerns, only to end up in debt and none the wiser for their experience (with the exception of a lesson in more judicious spending). Choose your mentors wisely, and make sure you’re investing in training and support that gets you to the specific outcomes you’re looking for.

How to decide if you’re ready for mentoring right now

You may be ready for a mentoring relationship now, if:

  • Even though you know what to do, you’re still not taking action. It’s one thing to know, it’s another thing to do. When all of your self-sabotaging gremlins rear their ugly heads and trip you up, do you know how to get around them? Do you persevere and get it done? Or do you call it a day? Having a mentor can make the difference between thinking and taking action. And THAT is where the rubber meets the road. In a recent post, I mentioned that I use multiple sources of accountability and mentoring in my life. Believe it or not, I’m not that good about following through on things unless I have significant motivation to do so. I use my mentors, like my screenwriting mentor and my business consultants, to keep me on track with much of my work.
  • You’re ready to stand in equal partnership with your mentor. You’ll want to work with someone who isn’t necessarily “above” you, though they may have more knowledge that you do in a particular area. I’ve learned the hard way to be exceedingly careful about putting anyone on a pedestal. Instead, I look for people to work with that I have the clarity of a peer-based relationship with. When I work with clients, I like to see us standing side-by-side, partnering to address the work at hand together, bringing all our expertise to bear.
  • You lose your way frequently. On the other hand, the beauty of having a mentor is that you have someone to hold the bigger picture for you, even when you lose your way. If you’re at all sensitive, as are many of my readers, you’ll be more likely to flounder when the boat gets rocked. Having a mentor who will remember of all your talents and abilities — especially when you can’t — is a powerful source of comfort and sustenance when the going gets rough.
  • You want to move faster than you can on your own. Having a mentor definitely has advantages when it comes to moving more quickly. In addition having accountability to keep you in swifter action, it’s incalculably faster and more effective to have someone to trouble-shoot, plan, and brainstorm with you than you can usually do on your own, particular if those aforementioned gremlins are throwing their unhelpful comments into the mix. 
  • You want the expertise and knowledge a mentor can offer. I choose to work with mentors who have a particular knowledge and expertise that I lack. Whether it’s writing a sales page or structuring my screenplay, I choose to hire folks I know I can both learn from and can help me do the work. I don’t want theory — I want practice. This is why I’ve always aimed to strike a balance between discussing the work and doing the work with my clients. I walk them through quieting their inner critics, writing proposals, working through detailed project timelines, and designing their writing schedules. Homework will only get you somewhere if you actually do it. Having someone to do the work with you? That’s where you know you’ll get the benefit for sure.
  • You want help applying that expertise to your specific circumstances. So often, we sign up for classes and programs but get lost in the anonymity of groups. When you want help with application of content specific to you, having someone that can focus with you on a precise project can make all the difference when it comes to translating from esoteric idea-land into practical get-it-done land. Which is where I love to live — in that bridge between worlds.

Your turn

I always love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> Creative Productivity Next Steps. If you enjoyed my Creative Productivity TeleClass Series and you’re wondering about the next steps to put what you learned into practice, stay tuned for an announcement about a free information call with me coming soon. I’ll walk you through identifying your next steps and fill you in about details about how I can support you along the way through my 1:1 mentoring programs. Make sure you’re on my mailing list and watch your inbox for details coming soon.

~> Next Writer’s Circle Session. Register by February 21st for the next session of my Writer’s Circle (starts February 25th). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects: http://JustDoTheWriting.com. We’re running four groups of fantastic writers right now and it’s a ton of fun. Come join us!

 

What I'm Up To

~> Daily. Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries. Working now on Mini Movie Seven!

~> Reading The Rescue (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 3).* Watching Downton Abbey* (Season 3). Started up again on Michio Kaku’s The Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel.*

 

Thanks for reading.

 

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Take action on what you know

As creatives, one of the skills we have to master is finding our way to the finish line, even when it feels like muddling our way through the dark.

Sometimes we know where we want to go, but we don’t know how to get there.

And when this happens, many people end up doing nothing. They don’t take action because they don’t have all the information yet, or they aren’t clear on the whole picture.

And yet from my perspective, this is one of the biggest mistakes we can make.

So often creative wait for inspiration, not realizing that if they put pen or paintbrush to page, pick up the guitar, or open their mouths to speak or sing, just trusting the act of creation is enough to get things going.

Because strange though it may seem, inching just one part of a project or idea forward can be enough to catalyze the entire system into action.

For instance, let’s say you have a beginning to a story, and you have an idea of the ending, but you aren’t quite sure how to get there yet — what happens in the middle? Well, you can start brainstorming structural ideas and plot devices. But what do you already know, and how you can nudge that forward?

Maybe you have a pretty good idea of your characters, so what if you spent some time fleshing them out? Or maybe you can visualize the ending clearly — what if you started writing there?

Yes, it’s true that some of that work might be for “nothing.” But really, truly, is any work ever lost? Isn’t it the process and the learning that comes through that work independently valuable, regardless of its lifespan?

In another example, let’s say you want to redecorate your living room, but you don’t know where to start. And yet you DO have your eye on a particular couch you just love. Rather than waiting to solve the entire design problem, what if you got the couch you love and build the rest of the redecoration project around it?

I suppose the risk is there that you’ll have purchased a couch you love but you can’t find a single thing that will look good with it, but I doubt it.

The paralysis of inaction can become painful procrastination in short order. What do you already know about where you are that you can take action on?

Do it.

Remember the quote from Goethe, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

Your turn

You know I always love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> Creative Productivity Next Steps. If you enjoyed my Creative Productivity TeleClass Series and you’re wondering about the next steps to put what you learned into practice, stay tuned for an announcement about a free information call with me coming soon. I’ll walk you through identifying your next steps and fill you in about details about how I can support you along the way through my 1:1 mentoring programs. Make sure you’re on my mailing list and watch your inbox for details coming soon.

~> Next Writer’s Circle Session. Register by February 21st for the next session of my Writer’s Circle (starts February 25th). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects: http://JustDoTheWriting.com. We’re running four groups of fantastic writers right now and it’s a ton of fun. Come join us!

 

What I'm Up To

~> Daily. Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries.* Working now on Mini Movie Seven!

~> Reading The Rescue (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 3).* Watching Downton Abbey* (Season 3). Wanting to get back to Michio Kaku’s The Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel.*

 

Thanks for reading.

 

* Affiliate link

 

 

 

Does passion follow action?

In the world of coaching, particularly in career and entrepreneurial coaching, much emphasis is put on the question of what you are passionate about.

It’s a direct result of the “do what you love and the money will follow” paradigm.

I’ve written before (here and here) about why I think this is the wrong question to be focused on.

So many of us are so deeply out of touch with ourselves that we feel passionless, and quite frankly, being asked to name what we are passionate about can create a heightened sense of despair and confusion.

I’ve also submitted to you that you must rather find the things you believe in beyond reason, the dreams that make you cry when you merely contemplate making them real, the visions that humble you with their enormity when you consider the possibility that YOU might be capable of creating them.

When you still don’t know?

What do you do when you STILL don’t know what that thing is?

You listen.

You listen to the voice of your soul. You listen for those little whispers and nudges that tell you exactly what you are supposed to be doing. And then you do it.

Mind you, those nudges won’t be loud. But they will be consistent. You just have to pay attention. Then take action.

Case in point

I have wanted to write for years. Years! And I’ve been “writing,” because I’ve been blogging, writing articles, and creating programs for the last 10 years (oh, hey! I just realized that August was my 10th year in business, I’ll have to come up with a way to celebrate). But I haven’t been writing on the level that I’ve truly wanted to — longer, deeper writing projects.

Finally, I started taking that voice seriously. I realized that I didn’t need to close my business to write, I didn’t need to become suddenly independently wealthy, and I didn’t need someone to wave their magic wand and give me permission to write. I just needed to do it.

In fact, when this came to head for me was when I had been repeatedly asking my Essential Self for guidance. “What do I need to do? What’s in my highest and best interest? What will make me happy?” I was asking, over and over again. The message came back, clearly. She said, “Write like your life depends on it.”

It STILL took me a while to get it. To understand that I didn’t need to radically change my life (see above) in order to “be able” to write. I just had to do it.

Then came the passion

Miraculously, once I began writing, I discovered a shocking, all-consuming fierce passion for it I did not know I had.

In fact, despite the days when writing feels impossibly difficult, no fun at all, and my inner critic is raging at me like a blue meanie on steroids, I still absolutely adore it.

The weirdest part of all of this is that the passion did not kick in, not truly, until I was well into writing regularly — truly DOING IT — day in and day out.

It’s led me to believe that passion follows action, not the other way around.

But I add this caveat: The action must be inspired — it must come from the voice of your soul.

Your turn

Tell me what you think in the comments. You know I love to hear from you. If you’d like some tips about HOW to listen to the voice of your soul, check out this article here.

Warmly,

Jenna

 

 

 

 

With Creativity Comes Confidence: A Lesson from a Sci Fi Genius

In working with my Artist’s Way Accountability & Support Group today, I was reminded of a novel I read recently called Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi.

The book is a fun, lighthearted romp about a film agent who ends up being the P.R. guy for a group of ugly aliens wanting to be accepted by the earthlings despite their extremely off-putting appearance and odor. A highly entertaining read and clever story, to say the least.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Beyond the unusual plot line, what particularly endeared me to the book was that it was Scalzi’s very first novel and one he wrote as a “practice” novel just so he could say that he had done it (and to impress his classmates at his 10 year high school reunion :) ).

Here’s what he has to say about it on his website (where, by the way, you can read the whole novel):

“In sitting down to write the novel, I decided to make it easy on myself. I decided first that I wasn’t going to try to write something near and dear to my heart, just a fun story. That way, if I screwed it up (which was a real possibility), it wasn’t like I was screwing up the One Story That Mattered To Me. I decided also that the goal of writing the novel was the actual writing of it — not the selling of it, which is usually the goal of a novelist. I didn’t want to worry about whether it was good enough to sell; I just wanted to have the experience of writing a story over the length of a novel, and see what I thought about it. Not every writer is a novelist; I wanted to see if I was.

“Making these two decisions freed me from a lot of the usual angst and pain that comes from writing a first novel. This was in all respects a ‘practice’ novel — a setting for me to play with the form to see what worked, and what didn’t, and what I’d need to do to make the next novel worth selling.”

The genius of this was that it freed him from the zeitgeist of perfectionism (a trap many of us, including me, know only too well) and allowed him to loosen up, have some fun, and get into action with Doing The Writing.

He made some attempts at selling it, but wasn’t able to, so he ended up posting it online for donations from people if they liked it on a kind of “shareware” basis. (Love that!) He was later invited to do a limited edition hardcover release of the book in 2005 and then in paperback in 2008.

Build Your Confidence

Magically, he says, “…between the writing of this novel and the publication of [my second novel], five other books slipped out of my brain, due in some measure to my confidence that I could write book-length works, be they fiction or non-fiction.”

Love that, too.

Isn’t it fascinating how simply Doing The Writing (or Doing The Work) helps us to build the confidence we think we need “before” we can do it “for real.” This clever guy found a way to do both at once.

(On a similar note, funny how this often comes up for entrepreneurs, coaches, and artists around having enough “credibility” to do what we want to do. So often I hear people talking about getting “certified” first, taking one more training,  getting the “right” website designed, or crafting the “right” progam. I make those mistakes too — my coach just busted me on this very thing this very morning, hello!)

So.

There is nothing like finding small ways to get started to help build your confidence around new skills.

For instance, I took a screenwriting class last summer and then signed myself up for a short screenplay writing competition to put my skills to the test. And my first script came in 3rd place in my group! My two subsequent scripts did not “score” in quite the same way, but simply the act of creating all of them gave me a sense of confidence and comfort around putting the pieces together to make a plausible script.

Since I have never written any fiction before this, I was so pleased with gaining the sense of, “Oh, yes, I can do this!” Even if I have more to learn (there’s always more), I’m off to a good start.

Reminds me of what a numerologist told me about my Life Lesson once upon a time, “With creativity comes confidence.”

~~~~~

How does this inspire you?

I’d love to have you share your comments on the blog.

~~~~~

What’s Jenna Up To?

~> April 20, 2011. Speaking at the Thriving Practice Workshop Series in Berkeley, California on creating a web presence and using social media to reach clients.

~>April 23, 2011. Next broadcast of my Radio Lightworker radio show “Dreamification” on “Visioning and Moving Ahead With Your Dreams Even in the Face of Fear.” Details. Listen from anywhere in the world to this Internet radio show.

~> April 26th, 2011. My Artist’s Way Accountability & Support Group continues. Details.

Big Dream Actioneering Report #2: Baby Steps

And we’re back. And it’s Saturday again, not Friday. Hmmm. Oh yeah, my son’s preschool was closed yesterday so it wasn’t a work day. Seems like there are always wrinkles in my schemes and plans.

So here’s my second official report. I ultimately want to do these with video reports, but I have to admit that make up on Saturday afternoon is not a high priority, LOL.

Challenges

Again with the cold. I have a lovely new cold to layer on top of my last one. Whimper, moan. It’s not that bad, but it’s definitely adding a layer of je ne sais quoi to the whole thing. Apparently having a little kid in their first year of public daycare = continuous colds. My girlfriend said that during her son’s first year of school they pretty much had colds the whole time. At least I can say that I don’t feel that bad, just a little less motivated than usual.

And again with the public communication. Seems like every time I’m about to settle down and write I remember an email I haven’t sent out yet. Hmm. Something’s got to change.

So in the end, I am still not yet getting to my full, dreamed of time each week for the Big Writing project.

Progress

Okay, the good news is that despite the lack of extensive sit down and write time I still managed to work through enough of the holes in my storyline and start writing a proper story treatment. That felt great! And I know I can keep going with it. Right now, as soon as I finish this post. (Seriously.)

Second, I also feel good about doing just a little bit of work on the screenplay even when I couldn’t do the full hour I want to do. I just read in Hugh MacLeod’s nifty new book, Evil Plans, “Like a very talented pianist once told me when I was a boy, it’s better to practice a musical instrument for five minutes a day than to practice for two hours once a week.” And Miriam essentially told me the same thing too, so even if I can’t do the full monty, I’m at least making progress and I know I’m keeping the dream in motion.

~~~~~

What about you? What did you accomplish with your Big Dream this week? Join me with your challenges and celebrations in the comments below.

~~~~~

In the spirit of Havi Brooks’ “Comment Zen,” I have this request:

Since I am exploring how to be more transparent, raw, vulnerable, and in my full, messy delicious creative energy in my posts, here’s what I would love to hear:

  • How YOU are taking action on YOUR big dream <— This is my favorite!
  • How you personally are doing whatever I’m writing about for yourself.
  • How my writing sparks something for you.
  • About your own stories, ideas, musings, and wonderings.

And I would love to skip:

  • You feeling like you need to take care of me, give me useful suggestions, or other well-meaning but unsolicited advice.

Thank you!

~~~~~

p.s. The Artist’s Way Accountability & Support Group is forming! It starts March 1. We need 16 people to make it a go, so if you’re interested sign up NOW. Plus the people who commit this weekend (by Monday) will save a bit on the fee because it helps us know we can go ahead with it. Send a blank email here and you’ll get instant details right in your email in box or you can email my assistant Jamie here with your questions and we’ll get them answered for you.

p.p.s. If you missed my free call Friday before last on “Finding Your ‘Big Thing’,” you can check out the recording here. And it’s not too late to get in on my Claim Your Calling course. Details here.

~~~~~