Becoming a student again
When I took a short break from writing last year, I knew that if I was going to come back to it and take it seriously, I needed to change my mindset.
I had to see myself as a beginner again because… well, I was a beginner. I knew I was, but my ego got in the way, which was my fault completely. I couldn’t carry on being half-and-half with writing. If I wanted to be successful with it, I had to be all in.
So, once I accepted that I must start from zero, I felt happier to commit to what it took for me to get better at ‘the thing’ (writing, in this case). I was slowly but certainly ready to improve continuously over trying to “win” so quickly.
I started surrounding myself with things that would make me a better writer. I swapped music for podcasts, mind-numbing YouTube videos for books and blogs. I focused less on gossip and news and more on ideas and people provided value. The writing wasn’t all I needed to improve; it was the entire concept of being who I wanted to be.
The podcasts gave me more ideas to write about. The books and blogs taught me new writing styles. Slowly, I started to absorb it. Slowly, my thought process was clearer. I sounded more like me. I started becoming the writer I wanted to be.
Over time as we succeed in our field, it can be easier to lose touch with our beginner’s mindset. It still happens to me to an extent—but I learned to remind myself to stay open-minded and return to a beginner’s way of thinking, every time I feel myself drifting out of touch. It’s to protect myself, because as the adage goes: “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.”
When you get to the point of success, where people come to you asking how to do the same thing, or you begin to feel like you already know what there is to learn, it’s very easy to feel like you have all the answers in life.
That’s why I made a point in last week’s newsletter to let your pride and ego take hits sometimes. You can use it to zone yourself back into focus so you don’t go off-track and lose sight of the bigger picture.
At one point, I struggled to form my writing style, so I did what beginners and great writers do, and what most people don’t expect: I stole from other people’s writing.
I would read something and think, “Wow, this is beautifully written, succinct, and exactly how I want to sound. So how can I be a beginner here and learn from this?” I would take the style and copy it like how a baby copies their parent’s behaviours.
Then, I would feel for resistance. That feeling that makes you say, “Hold on, this isn’t what I would say or how I would say it.” And my true voice would come alive.
Doing this helped me encase the beginner’s mindset. Because I’m getting the work through these wonderful teachers, I’m able to create myself this way.
We’re all beginners with what we do, even as we get more knowledge, experience or success.
Knowledge is a dangerous asset as it prevents you from getting any better. Success is about being a lifelong learner beyond the point where the end goal doesn’t really matter—not near as much as removing ego, pride and fear.
None of us really know what we’re doing. We’re truly making everything up as we go along—which is the most beautiful part of learning.
And so, don’t think of failure as starting over. Think of it as beginning again.
What I’ve Learned This Week
Rest Is Also Furthering Yourself
People who work too much tend to have things less figured out than those who work hard on a few valuable things. I’ve found that many people undermine rest. Today, we’re taught to be “always on”, working or busy and having as much as possible going on at once. After all, it looks more impressive, right? Not really. Rest allows you to soak in what you learn and get stronger next time you tackle your goals. If you make no time to do that, how do you expect to improve?
What’s on My Mind
2 simple ideas:
Progress is progress.
Target ideas, not people.
“Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.”
— W.E.B Du Bois
“People often associate constant tiredness and pain with getting old. You know, as a part of “normal adult life”. Few people ever think to relate the problem to a quality of life issue, and even fewer will do anything about it.”
“To work well and live a good life, we must become comfortable with is the axiom that many people in this world are much more talented than us. People who are sexier. Smarter. Faster. Stronger. More likeable, more charming, better-connected and, frankly, luckier than we are.”
Favourite Things This Week
A Question For You
What habits contribute the most to your happiness, and what could you drop?
I hope you enjoyed this, see you again next week.