I am about to embark on a four week career development program which is suppose to help me decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. Do I want to switch careers or do I want to rediscover the one I have been involved in for the past 40 years? Hmmm quite a life changing decision.
In reading some of the information sent I was introduced to two mindsets to navigating your career. One was fixed mindset which is the belief that your ability is ingrained. We are born with a level of ability and there is little we can do to changed it. The other is growth mindset which is the belief that your ability can be developed by hard work. We may be born with certain abilities but we are determined to find different ways to expand our world.
I took a test to see which mindset I was and not surprising to me I was overwhelmingly categorized as having a growth mindset. I have to admit I have a tendency to think that I can’t do certain things. I try to talk myself into being satisfied with what is but the voice in my head keeps reminding me that I can do better if I just push a bit harder.
I was in Paris and had an appointment with a photographer to show him my book. I was new to the city and was having a hard time getting my bearings. I couldn’t seem to find the location of the studio and kept walking in the wrong direction. Of course I didn’t speak French and the Plan de Paris was no help what so ever. My fixed mindset told me to give up and go home. But my growth mindset kept telling me that if I went home I would not go back out again. My determination to find the studio pushed me to achieve that goal. It took me another hour but I finally succeeded. The outcome wasn’t earth shattering but knowing that I had achieved even that small goal was everything. I would not let my mind dictate my outcome. I was determined to find my way.
I have taken that determination through my life and I know that is one of the reasons why I have had a good deal of success in my career. Not always wildly successful but enough to know that in facing the setbacks I have gotten better with effort. I have taken risks to step out of my comfort zone and because of it I have seen places and had experiences that have made my life richer.
So why now am I having such a hard time deciding what direction to go in for the rest of my journey? Part of me says to relax and rest on my laurels but that person that was determined to find my way in the vast city of Paris so many years ago is still inside me. It’s maddening at times to have a growth mindset but to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In this year of 2020, there is a lot of things I could blame on Covid 19. It would be so easy to use the excuse when I drop the ball in getting on with life. I have been trying to finish a book I wrote 5 years ago and being home gave me every reason to do just that. I even joined a writer’s community to inspire and quite frankly kick my butt into doing the work.
But here it is the end of the year. I signed up for the community back in February even before Covid had really hit so at the time I didn’t have much free time to devote to the writing and still, I was frozen. I began listening to all the things one must do to get a book published and got cold feet. Started a number of times and then stopped. Even stopped writing this blog which I have been doing for years.
I tried to figure out why I was so stuck . I had shown my rough draft to a couple of people hoping I would get the thumbs up and get moving but they rightfully so explained I had not dug deep enough to make the novel appealing. Why would anyone want to listen to my story of two hundred and fifty pages when it was mostly surface?
Sitting here now this writing is going deeper than I ever have in the book. That writing is more of me telling a story instead of living the story and up until now, I have been too frozen to go to that place. And then there’s covid…
I can’t explain why I checked out during the six months I had off. I had all the time in the world to write and had a large manuscript just waiting to be cleaned up. And still, I didn’t move forward.
In looking back I am realizing I’m not ready to spill my guts aka Hillbilly Elegy (I’m from Cincinnati) and that is my life. That story is what I lived growing up and have not had the strength or desire to face it in such a personal way.
Let’s hope in ringing in the new year I can find solace in knowing I can go deep without even having to worry about it going public. I think it’s time for me to thaw out what’s been tucked away for so long. I hope this covid thing is allowing some to step into some warmth.
I’m not sure many people have heard of Audrey Winthers. She was the editor of British Vogue during WW II. She commissioned Cecil Beaton, the acclaimed photographer and designer, to photograph a model against the ruins of a bombed out church in London.
She made an appearance in the magazine not in some glamorous cafe but in the basement of the magazine’s temporary office, amide shattered glass and peeling walls. She was determined to tell her audience about the food shortages and clothes rationing alongside pictures of country houses.
She believed it was simply not modern to be unaware or uninterested in what is going on all around. She suggested people harvest their own vegetables, stock preserves, and, rather than shop, to “mend and make do” with items already in their wardrobes. Pretty progressive for an editor of a fashion magazine.
She presented the world as it was at a time that was not what people wanted to see or to read about. But she felt it was her mission to inform her audience not only of the beauty of the world but also the reality of war. Quite brave for then and even now.
Recently we celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the women’s right to vote. It was a hard-won battle for 80 years until finally in August of 1920 the law was passed. One of the senators from Tennessee who was to be the deciding vote finally voted yes after a letter from his mother told him to “be a good boy”. She encouraged him to do the right thing and give women the well deserved right they had been fighting for.
In this pandemic, five countries with the least amount of cases of the coronavirus are all lead by women. And now we have an African Asian American woman running for Vice President of the United States.
If there is any time better than to be a rebel and a woman I say the time is now. Bring it on.