Not long ago a study was released explaining kids are negatively affected when we tell them they’re good at something. It sounds crazy, I know, but the article said if we say to our kids they’re good musicians or good athletes, they feel an enormous amount of pressure to live up to the expectations we’ve unknowingly set. The study found kids are much better off if we say great job scoring that goal or you sounded really good in practice today. The difference, the study suggested, is we’re praising what a kid did rather than praising his or her identity based on select criteria. In other words, when we say you’re a good musician what the kid hears is you only matter if you’re a good musician and you should fear losing that status but when we say you sounded great in practice today what the kid hears is you sounded great in practice today, nothing more and nothing less. Their identity has nothing to do with whether they’re a good musician or not.
A few times each year, it happens. I go into a funk. I’ve learned from experience it only lasts a few days but it’s ugly when it happens. What it looks like is this: I don’t want to work because nothing really matters anyway. We all die in the end.
Of course, my normal brain would never get tripped by such a silly thought. Of course the work we do matters. And all that we say and do matter, too. If one thing matters, everything matters I suppose.
My friend Pete recently let me in on a paradigm shift I found helpful. He was talking about a friend of his who, for some reason, was taking up a bit too much of his mental space. He was beginning to feel responsible for a friend’s bad decisions. Another friend of Pete’s said that Pete needed to be responsible TO his friend, not FOR his friend.
Pete explained this meant he was responsible to be kind to […]
We read books for different reasons. Sometimes it’s to learn a craft or for a perspective on current events, but the books most people read aren’t approached with a specific ambition at all. What we want most is to not feel alone, to allow somebody to rummage inside our minds and souls and point out all the ways we are alike. And to write this sort of book, you only need to know your own story.
I have a confession. I’m given to self pity. I hate it and I don’t want it in my life anymore. It’s costing me. In the past month or so I’ve been studying Richard Nixon. We just passed the 40th anniversary of his impeachment and resignation, so interviews and articles have been floating around the internet. Nixon lived in a bit of an ethical fog. But in my opinion his ethics problems weren’t his primary flaw. His primary flaw was he felt sorry for himself.
When it’s time to write, my mind quickly finds a reason not to sit down and face the terror of the blank page. Normally, these distractions come in the form of odds and ends I convince myself must be taken care of before I sit down to do my work.
I feel it like a sickness. I’m tired. I’m irritable. I have trouble focusing and I get confused about priorities. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be working on. My head feels like a junk drawer. What’s the problem? The problem is I’m an introvert taking on an extrovert’s life. It’s my own fault. […]
When you are criticized, you are going to want to create in retaliation, but don’t. As a creator, you are a person that feeds consumers, and you mustn’t feed consumers anger. Yes, there are reasons to be angry, good reasons, but don’t let anger evolve into the act of creating.
Awhile back, I was in LA with a friend and he took me to his favorite taco shop. We were sitting there eating when I realized I’d actually been to the bike shop across the street, nearly five years before. I laughed as I told him I spent about a couple hundred dollars on stuff I didn’t need in that very shop.
Just last week I was scheduled to give a keynote presentation to a group of officers from a multi-billion dollar corporation. My job was to explain how story worked in screenplays and then explain how major corporations were using Hollywood plot structures in their marketing campaigns.
This is a talk I’ve given more than few times and it always goes well. But one part of the talk was bugging me.
I’ve a friend who is a bit dramatic. Well, not a friend, exactly, but somebody I have to deal with. I won’t get into it. Ever since I met this person their default mode has been drama.
If I don’t do something about that noise, my car was going to break down…If I don’t call this person right away I’ll lose this great opportunity…If I don’t leave my faucet running my pipes will freeze…and on and on.