Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a little bit helpless and a little bit unsure? That’s good.
Yes. It is good. Guess what? You don’t have the answers to all of your problems and when you are able to embrace an awareness of that fact, and let it sit for a while, you are creating the causes for creativity to be born.
When I am faced with a problem, my first response is to solve it. Give me that quick fix so I can attach the bandaid, wipe my hands clean and move on. My mother is infamous for preempting her response with “Here’s what you need to do…” and it drives me insane. Most likely because I see a little bit of that in myself, and because I wish she could just listen and let things be. There is a theory that states when people come to you with a problem, it is helpful to that person if you simply listen and let them know that you understand their feelings. In a TED talk and a new online course, Brene Brown shares that having empathy means being strong enough to just be with someone where they are. No judgment, no sharing advice or “how to”, just an ability to be in that space, whatever it may be, with another for a while. The unsettling, ambiguous and often helpless emotion you may experience is HUMAN.
So, wait, how is this connected to a Growth Mindset?
In Creative Confidence, Tom and David Kelley claim that a fundamental prerequisite for developing creative confidence is the belief that our capabilities for innovation are not set in stone, not fixed. They suggest that as “analytical thinkers, an unresolved issue hanging in the air is uncomfortable.” And in those situations, is it the uncomfortable feeling that drives us to search for and offer the quick fix. Creative thinkers who exercise a Growth Mindset recognize that there are many possible solutions and have the courage to utilize an open mind, thinking big and wide first. This helps them to become aware of a number of possibilities before settling on a single idea. People who have a growth mindset are comfortable to wade in the pool of uncertainty. They are willing to just be where they are for a while.
So, the next time you are faced with a situation that brings up these unsettling emotions that make you feel helpless or unsure, try to pause and notice what you are feeling. Know that these emotions are human. Get pumped for this new opportunity, a challenge to swim in the unknown. Think of it simply as an experiment to see where it will take you. Reflect on the experience. And then tell someone about it.