When I was teaching elementary school I learned about psychologist Carol Dweck and her research into the power of mindset. She shows how success in school and work can be influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset (those that believe that their abilities and intelligence won’t change) are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset (those that believe that they have the power to improve their abilities and intelligence through hard work and practice).
Dweck talks about the power of “not yet” in her Ted presentation The Power of Believing You Can Improve. When children are confronted with a challenge that is slightly too difficult for them they may respond positively to the situation by saying, “I love a challenge!” These children didn’t run from error, but instead engaged with it. Other students had a negative reaction and felt like they had failed. While some children viewed the challenge in terms of not being smart enough to solve it right now, others looked at it as having just not solved it yet. In order to move from a negative fixed mindset of the “now” to a more positive growth mindset of the “not yet” children need to focus on believing they can improve.
Educators understand how important it is to foster a growth mindset in their students. Similarly, having a growth mindset as a writer can help you overcome literary rejections quickly and foster higher levels of achievement. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks and challenges. Accepting rejection and moving on are part of every writer’s life. Dweck suggests that success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She says, “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”
Mindsetonline states, “In a fixes mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort. They’re wrong.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”
There are some good resources available to help you identify and develop your mindset. Mindsetonline offers a simple test to identify a fixed or growth mindset. Forbes presents strategies to help fine-tune your mindset. In The Power of Yet: Do You Believe You Can Improve? Sam Thomas Davies suggests three steps to help moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Open Colleges explains Dweck’s research in detail and offers a list of 25 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset.
Reframing your thoughts surrounding negative responses from the “now” to the “not yet” will help you conquer rejection and reach your literary goals.