Are you happy when you’re right or when you’re wrong?

Carol Dweck says we have two mindsets: fixed and growth. In the fixed mindset we’re happy when we’re right, when we know something. In the growth mindset we’re happy when we’re learning. In order to learn we have to not know. In order to learn that we do not know, we have to be wrong.

Fixed mindset people are less happy and successful than people with the growth mindset. Do you want to be happy and successful or would you prefer not to be? It starts with the answer to this question: are you happy when you’re right or when you’re wrong?

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The endless no

katie-moum-394599-unsplashLiving a life of passion means saying no, no, no, no, no. Endless ‘no’s.

All in the service of serving yourself that thin slice of the pie that is what you were born to do well meeting what you love – one ‘yes’, your passion.

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Only pick what you love


We have millions of options. According to folklore, you can “be whoever you want to be.” But only a few of those options will speak to us.

Others may tell us how good we are at something. But that doesn’t mean it’s a passion. It just means it’s a talent.

Don’t just pick what you’re good at. Don’t just pick what you like.

Pick the place where your talent and your excitement meet. Pick your passion. Life is too short to waste. Only pick what you love.

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What’s even better than direct experience?


Direct experience is how we learn. If we don’t do it, we don’t learn it.

Even better? Repeated direct experience, including pauses. When we pause, we learn from our direct experience how to do what we do better by seeing our failures clearly (with kindness).

Then we try it again and again and again. Play and persistence together help each other out to help us grow.

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Two words that help you grow


In a world of distraction, where focus is an endangered species, two words help: direct experience.

We can also support that by thinking about the concept of what we want to focus on, of feeling excited about it, anticipating it. That helps.

But the only way to actually get better at something is to do it. We can watch YouTube videos on how to cook the perfect omelette, but until we actually break some eggs we don’t get to eat.

Direct experience is how we learn.

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An independence break sparks passion

For Independence Day I went to Lake Sheomet. It’s what I wanted to do.

Why is that important? Like previous years, I took the name of this summer holiday at face value. I put away the commitments, To Do lists, business needs, everything. From start to finish, I kept out anything tugging at me, any ‘shoulds’. July 4 was devoted to doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was a day of listening internally, of asking the question to a more native version of myself, “what do you want to do now?” And, “do you no longer want to do this now or keep going?”

And like other past Independence Days, this process was not easy. It’s fascinating to see how much of daily life is boxed in with commitments, external and internal. And also interesting to see that some more civilized part of the self get a little concerned, or momentary panic at not actually knowing what is wanted. We get so used to being told what to do by the brain’s taskmaster that it’s not easy to switch to listening.

And like other years, it was richly rewarding. Sitting under the pines and hemlocks, eating breakfast, reading, generating ideas, swimming, paddleboarding, eating lunch, then doing it all again as the sun slowly slid westward. AND I got a major new way to actually succeed at my perpetually undone to-do lists. What a Wednesday!

We need moments like this. I do, you do. We especially need them if they seem dangerous or worrisome…or impossible. It doesn’t have to be a day at first. Perhaps it’s an hour. Perhaps five minutes.

We were born with certain specific strengths. These talents and passion require attention and space to assert themselves into daily life, just like plants. Checking in with our inner intelligence on the direction of interest realigns us with our unique passions. We’re essentially saying to the best and most talented parts of ourselves, “I hear you, I see you, you’re important. You deserve a place on the decision-making table too.” External situations are no longer pushing us around.

When is your next personal Independence Day going to be? Your next Independence Hour? Your next Independence Break? And what passion will it spark?

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

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What percent of Florida panthers are black?

Bl Panther

Q: What percent of Florida panthers are black?

A) 22%
B) 100%
C) 12%
D) 0%

Correct Answer: D) 0%

In your mind’s eye, when you think of a panther, what color is it? Probably black.

Our minds are good at things like that. Minds like to fill in the blanks, to simplify the world, to organize it into right and wrong, good and bad, friend and foe. It’s easier and has historically been safer not to concern yourself with nuances when a saber-tooth tiger is charging at you. The mind says, “that’s foe.”

The problem? When the mind fills in the blanks for things that aren’t immediately life-threatening. And that’s pretty much most of our experience. We live in a complex self-induced web of duality. As Antonio Machado said, “In my solitude I have very clearly seen things that were not true.”

Growth mindset says we’re not at our best when we’re right – we’re at our best when we’re learning. There’s the story we tell ourselves and the real story. Get curious about learning the real story.

Posted in Brain Science, EI, Persistence | Comments closed

A tracking form helps you persist

The research says that journaling and tracking your progress greatly increases your chance at persisting at something that’s important to you. In my experience I have found this to be true. I’ve been using a tracking form daily to help me persist since October 20, 2010. I just wrote on mine this morning.

Here’s how I use the tracking form. Take the concept and make it your own.

  • The date I put on top is the start date. After the date in smaller type I include inspiration to encourage me and focus me. I don’t often change the inspiration part. I also don’t often notice it. But it doesn’t hurt to have.
  • Each form lasts for two weeks. The first week is on the left side of the day column. The second week is on the right.
  • I include current items in the following ‘buckets’ of my life that are important to me: work, music, exercise, nature, health, each of the 4 Ps of At Your Best (passion/play/purpose/persistence), and inner work.
  • I focus on what’s most important to me that could otherwise be buried in the tugs of a myriad of small urgencies that life and work blithely hand out.
  • My work examples: revamp website, blog writing, newsletter writing, current client work that demands greater focus
  • My exercise examples: flexibility, aerobic, strength
  • My health examples: icing painful areas, posture, physical therapy exercises, tendonitis stretches, sleep log (when I fell asleep and woke up), what hindered or help sleep, whether I took a siesta
  • My inner work examples: meditation, mindfulness, and whatever old fear I’m working on to loosen its grip on me.
  • I place the greatest importance on some aspect of the ‘big stuff’ I’m here on earth to do. That big stuff, if not tended, can lay forgotten.
  • The things that I actually end up tracking invariably are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic.
  • Mine is double-sided. Most people would be well served to make their forms single sided.
  • I print it out on yellow card stock and put it on my clipboard.
  • I mark it by hand, ideally by the end of the day.
  • I find it helpful to also look at it at the beginning of the day, but don’t always get to that.
  • I’m at my best with this form when I feel the pride of filling something in, with no berating for all the things I didn’t get to. Everything counts, even five minutes.

A tracking form is not for everyone, but it might be for you. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with.

Tracking Form example1Tracking Form example2

Click here to download this tracking form

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Go outside and play? “It’s too real!”

“Go outside and play,” Mom told us all summer long when we were young. Mom meant it literally, and Mom is always right of course. It’s also great advice metaphorically. But get outside what exactly?

We have a comfort zone where life is easy and enjoyable. And we have a panic zone where life is too hard, too scary, too overwhelming, too…much. There’s a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where he complains about being outside his TV-watching comfort zone, explaining, “It’s too real.”


We call this ‘too real’ zone the challenge zone. The challenge zone is built between the comfort and panic zones. It’s where we learn. It’s where we grow. Too much reality and we’re panicked. Too little and we’re stuck trying to stay comfortable, what Walt Whitman railed against as “indoor complaints”.

Comfort Challenge Panic zones

The literal outside is not always comfortable. It’s often too hot, too bright, too humid, too buggy, just as Calvin so astutely noted. And the metaphorical outside is the same – it’s really real outside the comfort zone. Yet if comfort is our highest priority, we can give up the hope of learning and growing.

Every team development session we lead has lots of new concepts, research and ideas to help teams and individuals grow into the challenge zone. And I pair every training with team building activities to try those concepts out, an immediate leap into the challenge zone. That’s where the growth happens. High hopes accompany new ideas. That’s great! And then there’s the reality when trying to put them into play. It’s not easy to see enthusiasm get a dose of direct experience. But that’s the beginning of learning, of “going where I have to go” as the poet Theodore Roethe said.

Happy summer! Now get outside and play.

Posted in Persistence, Play, Team Building, Training | Comments closed

Quest Story: A Passion for Radio – Phil D and WIZZ

In an era of radio stations owned and tightly controlled by a few large corporations, Phil D and his WIZZ radio station provide something rare and wonderful. This independently owned radio station decides what to play by listener request and Phil’s unerring feel for what his listeners love.  It’s radio the way you remember it was. And if you wish it were still happening, there’s good news – it is!

WIZZ radio is a dynamic AM radio station that features “The Greatest Music Memories” of all time with music from the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s through today. WIZZ serves four states and also reaches avid listeners worldwide online from Greenfield, Massachusetts at 1520 on the AM dial.

Every weekday at sunrise, Phil D is at the controls of WIZZ, waking the towns and telling the people what they want to hear…News, Weather, Sports, Lottery Results, Phil D has it all…even his own special humor and a touch of “friendly sarcasm”. His daily all-request show plays the great songs and artists of the past seven decades.

Phil has been involved with radio all his life, starting in high school and continuing on up to today. He’s had lots of adventures along the way, and in our interview with him told us about introducing the Beach Boys at a show, hanging out with Roy Orbison, and even conducting Lawrence Welk’s orchestra.

Phil’s passion for radio, music and his listeners shines through and it’s heartening to have his station be the soundtrack of our day here in the Quixote Consulting office. There’s nothing quite like it. As Phil said during our interview with him, “We’re performing a service that fills a void in some people’s lives, especially for older folks that don’t have much going for them. The music brings back great memories.”

Click here to enjoy WIZZ right now!

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