Learning or Experimenting? Mindset Matters

I am working on bringing Hiring Geeks That Fit to print. I’ve hired a book designer, and we are in the last stages of the book. We thought we were “all set,” so much so, that I bought a print proof from Amazon/CreateSpace, and was so excited when it arrived. I thought I might find a few things, but I thought we were mostly done.

Ha! I did not like the spacing between the lines, the leading. This is something I should have caught at the beginning. I didn’t like the headers. Should have caught this at the beginning also. Yes, I caught the three or four other things I expected to catch.

The problem was not the problems. Those are all fixable. The problem was my reaction. I was upset, mostly at myself. I dragged around, thinking, “This book is never going to get done. What was I thinking, that I could self-publish a print book?”

Those of you who are familiar with Carol Dweck’s work recognize this as the fixed mindset. (See Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.) I have more info on my Books page.

I received the book at 7 pm, which is when UPS delivers packages to my house. I slept on it, and then sent my book designer email at 7 am the next morning, explaining my concerns. I also took responsibility for not catching the problems earlier. My designer is on the west coast, so I don’t know what she felt when she read the email, but her response was terrific.

“No problem,” she responded. “Once you decide what leading and headers you like, we can go back to proofing. The one problem is that we’ll have to pay for indexing again.”

To me, this is a small price to pay for a professional book. The book reflects me. I want it to be as perfect as it can be.

Contrast that mindset with something I did three days later. I was spousing at Mark’s convention. We had a ladies outing to make a kippah out of beads, the skullcaps we wear at services.

I enjoy beading, but I’ve only done it once or twice. I knew two of the twelve people, so I was going to meet new people. I was sure that the environment would be challenging to my deafness, but what the heck.

Did you notice the difference in mindset? For the beading, I had a growth mindset. I was determined to learn something. I didn’t finish the yarmulke (no one did), but I had a great time, and I got to make some new friends.

Satir Change ModelWhen you learn something, you go through the change model. For the book, I was thrown into chaos. The foreign element was that the book didn’t look the way I expected it to. I had no transforming idea about how to make it look the way I wanted. I had no control over the manuscript. My book designer has the manuscript, so she has all the control. I barely have the right words to say, which is why I’m taking a class in book design.

For the yarmulke-making, I went through the chaos part into the transforming idea of “I’ll get to learn something.” Even when my first attempt broke and I had to start over, I learned to not make my beads so tight. I didn’t learn that I was a bad-beader. I learned I was a novice-beader and I have more to learn.

I’m an experienced writer. I’m learning how to publish books as an independent author. That’s a big difference. I need to expect to start over a few times.

It’s funny. The growth mindset is part of my pecha kucha for Agile 2013, for my Agile Suitcase. Why didn’t I have it for myself for my book? Because I’m human.

I was tired. I’d had a few other disappointments that day. My back hurt. It was the last thing in a long day. Should I have opened the package or waited until the morning when I was fresh? Maybe I should have waited. At least I waited to send email. I’ve learned that much.

When you, like me, learn something new, try to keep your growth mindset. It won’t be easy all the time. You’ll discover some occasions that you will feel as if you have nowhere to go but down. That’s when you realize you’re in the fixed mindset.

Recognize the fixed mindset. When I’m there, I say, “What one step can I take?” Take one small step. Get some feedback. Take another small step. Get more feedback.

For me, it was sending email to my book designer explaining what I liked and didn’t like. I also sent email with the three problems in the book. Yes, there actually were three issues in the book. That’s why we have proofs. To find those problems and fix them.

My designer reassured me that everything could be fixed. Now, less than a week later, I have a pdf with everything the way I want. All the goofs are fixed. The headers and the leading look right, at least in the pdf. And me? I’m back to the growth mindset for the book.

As for my beading project, well, that will have to wait for me to finish. I still have work to complete first. But I’m not worried. At some point, I will finish it. I have the directions. And, I think I can learn enough about beading to finish. I know who I can ask.

When you learn, or experiment, make sure your mindset works with you, not against you. The fixed mindset takes you down, every time. The growth mindset makes you light.

How do you feel today? Heavy or light? Maybe it’s your mindset.

5 thoughts on “Learning or Experimenting? Mindset Matters

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