Betting on “Little Bets” – and a Contest Opp

So many books, never enough time…

One condition of deep editing mode for my fiction work is that I tend to shy away from reading anyone else’s fiction at the same time. No particular reason, other than I find someone else’s characters and world distracting when I’m working to improve mine. I do, however, read nonfiction. (Read on to learn about the contest part…)

Since I am in the aforementioned deep editing mode for two manuscripts, I am swallowing nonfiction books whole at the moment. Most have something to do with creativity. The latest I need to spread the word about is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims. (Here’s the link.)

Little BetsSims writes about innovation, creativity and a lot more, and I won’t restate his excellent wording. The parts that appealed to me most as a creative highlight two principles. The first is mind-set, and the second is continuous experimentation and discovery.

We tend to have a certain mind-set in the way we approach our world. People with a fixed mind-set tend to be challenge-phobic, early quitters, and threatened when others succeed and they don’t. The fixed mind-set individual will NOT be the person trying new things or thanking you for sharing your advice. The world works in only one way in their eyes, and they’ll thank you to leave them alone about options.

Contrasted at the other end of extremes are people who dance the free-will happy dance, the growth mind-set. These classic over-achievers believe challenges make you wiser, lessons and criticism are instruments of learning, and innovation is a holy grail. For the growth folks, there’s plenty of room for everyone in the pool, and the rising water level (success) lifts all rubber duckies.

Why am I intrigued by this? My theory – and not scientific by any means – is that to be a creative, your tendency weighs heavily on the growth end of the scale. Most of us never see the big name success of the top 2%, and yet we keep creating because we must. We try new methods, develop new skills, and network with new friends. We celebrate our peers. We are part of a tribe that sees the glass as half-full and are more than happy to “buy” the metaphorical next round to fill it up.

This leads us to continuous experimentation and discoveries, aka innovation. We’re open to the newness. One genre I write in, romance, is known for its bleeding edge experimentation. Self-publishing? Oh yes. E-books? Sign us up! Dumping the status-quo in favor of going our own route, all the while holding hands with our sisters and brothers of the pen? Amen!

In fact, changes don’t have to be big. They can be little things. According to Sims, “learning a little from a lot” of people is a wonderful way to gather diverse views. Innovation comes not from having a homogeneous group trying to solve a complex problem, but from variety and diversity. Big discoveries flow from small changes.

Don’t most creative people you know embrace these characteristics of curiosity? The ones who I consider the most successful – i.e., the most productive – are those who are always probing, speculating and venturing where the going might get messy. But hey, if this doesn’t work, there’s always something new to try! Little Bets is definitely one of those things to put on your must-try list!

What books have you read that brought you a new perspective on being a creative? Add to my reading list, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card!

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