Growth Mindset for Artists and Creatives
It’s 2020. The new year has begun. Perhaps you are wide-eyed and bushy tailed, excited to start the new year off right. You are taking time to set some artistic, professional and personal goals. You dream big and expect big results out of all your planning and strategizing.
But just a few short weeks into the new year your deadliest enemy has already started to rear their ugly head. Perfectionism walks in your door.
You’ve tried to kill this interloper for years. But each time you put your career in gear, there is perfectionism to hit the brakes. And hit the brakes they do. With doubt. Second guessing. Shame. Blame. Judgement. Oh the judging. Just what every artist likes… judgement. Right? Not.
Well, if you are like me, someone who strives to excel in their work and wants to work hard. You may have confused striving to do your best with actually being a perfectionist.
Perfectionism is a creativity and business killer.
The author and researcher Brene Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection writes:
“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
I don’t know about you, but I hate the feelings of blame, judgement and shame. That pit in your stomach or yuck feeling all day (when you screwed something up) is worth avoiding. But at what cost?
I need my creativity. I LOVE my creativity. I need it for my art and my work. I need it for my relationships and my pleasure. I don’t want to lose my creativity or block it by shame. And by the way, I truly, really, deeply KNOW, I am not perfect by any measure. Not even close. At all.
Your imperfection is a gift, and part of what makes you unique. Accept your imperfections, and your healing begins.
The Antidote Part 1: You Are Loved
So what’s the antidote? How can we overcome or kill perfectionism? How do we rescue our plans? Save the very creativity that drives us?
One of the most powerful antidotes I will share with you today is a growth mindset. Before you adopt and practice a growth mindset, you first have to believe the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the REAL starting point.
We are fallen… Sinful… Unworthy… But we are also loved beyond measure…beyond our finite imaginations… by the God of the Universe. The most wonderful, spectacular God of the Universe. He loved us and wanted us so deeply, he gave his son Jesus to pay the price for our sins so we would be reconciled with Him.
That my friends is a literal THANK GOD.
Even though I make mistakes, I am still wanted. By the most important being in the universe. God.
This is the REAL beginning of a growth mindset because I begin the journey in a very real, honest and true place. Exactly where I am.
I am fallen—- but wanted.
I screw up— but I am deeply loved.
And that love from God will NEVER be taken away.
My value isn’t tied to performance, my love is not bound to how well I do things. I have value and love given to me freely, not based at all in what I do.
Starting here is profoundly freeing. And if I stay grounded in these truths of scripture my freedom to create is boundless.
God has given us gifts and talents to honor Him and we need to grow those gifts and talents through risk taking. We will make mistakes, but those mistakes don’t define us. Instead, We use those mistakes to adapt our growth strategies and we iterate. We try new things. We risk again.
The Antidote Part 2: Embracing a Growth Mindset
So after I set my mind and heart on the truths of the gospel, I begin my transformation into a growth mindset. Now maybe you’ve heard the term growth mindset before. The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck and popularized in her 2007 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Dweck’s work centers on the distinction between “fixed” and “growth” mindsets.
According to Dweck, “In a fixed 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.”
Alternatively, Dweck writes: “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”.
So this means people(in our case –Creatives, Artists) who embrace growth mindsets—the belief that they can learn more or become smarter if they work hard and persevere—may learn more, learn it more quickly, and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve their learning and skills.
The great news about this is—-We aren’t stuck. We aren’t defined by our failings. We are not doomed if we make mistakes. Failures and mistakes are opportunities to learn.
Dweck’s ideas on growth mindset are actually not new. God has always called us to a growth mindset. Think about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. It was the servants who did something with what they were given that were rewarded not the perfectionist who did nothing with his talents.
So what does this mean to perfectionism? It dies. It loses its power over us.
I really love this because we know how much we need the freedom to fail. As a matter of fact, I have a whole class I teach on how to deal with failure in my upcoming Catalyst Program launching next week. Learning to fail well, fail often and fail fast are important ideas to understand and utilize, not just in your creative endeavors but in your business too.
So as 2020 begins let’s remember the truth about ourselves. We’re loved regardless of our performance. Let’s be learners. Let’s be tryers. Let’s be the risk-takers God designed us to be. Let’s flourish in our careers and unleash our creativity in 2020!
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Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.