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Carol Dweck TED Talk:

In which Hank talks about how to get good at stuff, which is begins with recognizing that you, like.../can/ and also recognizing that you're going to suck at first because WE ALL DO. So you shouldn't judge yourself based on the capabilities of people who have been developing skills their whole lives. Wow, now that I've written that here I feel like maybe I didn't need a whole video but that's basically what the video's about...

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 Hank's book

Good morning John.
So I haven't been super secretive about the fact that I've been writing a book, a novel-like book. But I haven't really broadcasted it either. I was starting it the NaNoWriMo times of November;  I started writing it. During the month of November I got to 15,000 words; and now, as of June 26th, I can confirm that I have hit the 50,000 word NaNoWriMo mark and I am not at all disappointed in my slowness.

(Hank knocks the tripod with the camera on it). Whoa. I hit the tripod with my knee.

 The problem with his progress (0:23)

The problem is that the book is not anywhere close to being done. It turns out a lot of books are much longer than 50,000 words; in fact some of my favorites are like 4/500,000 words. So if I do this and you include revisions I'll probably be still writing this book at least a year from now, which is terrifying. I have no reason to believe that I will be able to do this. It's nothing like anything I've ever done before, and it's difficult, and it's massive in scale; and most of all, although this could also be considered an asset, I have this brother who is not only a very successful writer, he's a very good writer, which is intimidating. So stop being so talented.

 Why people are talented (1:00)

But I was in the shower this morning and I was thinking about what we mean when we say that someone is good at something; like a good mathematician, or a good writer, or a good computer programmer. There are 2 ways to imagine that.

One is that the person and their skill is a snapshot that somehow stretches both forward and backward in time infinitely, which makes no sense but happens to be the way that I usually think about people who are really skilled at stuff. The easiest and most common way to imagine skill is to imagine that you're just born with it. The other way to imagine skill and talent is that while there may be some innate traits that make the acquisition of those skills and talents more easy, really it's a continuum and everybody starts out bad and can work toward getting good.

Psychologist Carol Dweck has been studying the differences between these 2 mindsets for over 30 years. She calls the mindset that skills and talents are innate the "Fixed Mindset" and the alternative, that skills and talents are acquired, the "Growth Mindset".

 The Growth Mindset (1:54)

 Now there are 2 main advantages to the growth mindset.

One is that it is the correct one, it is much truer reflection of reality than the fixed mindset. No one is born good at math. No one is born a good writer. We aren't even born capable of abstract thought or communication. The fact that I can have a thought inside of my head, and then makes these tiny little carefully constructed subtle sounds with my mouth, and then you can hear those sounds and then understand what I'm talking about. That is a skill that took us both lots of time to master and I honestly feel like I'm still getting better at that skill. As a guy who talks a lot I'm better at it now than I used to be before I started to be a professional speaker at camera.

The other advantage to the growth mindset is that people who have it show a measurable increase in their ability to acquire new skills because it turns out that if you get stuck with the idea that all skill is innate and that people are good at stuff because they're good at stuff and bad at stuff because they're bad at stuff then you never get good at stuff because everybody starts out bad.

 What this means (2:56)

As far as I can tell this is the main trick to getting good at stuff. The ultimate first step is to just realise that skill and talent are not innate; that all of these things come from hard work and that they are composed of a multitude of different things like self control, and empathy, and like just building and re-enforcing neural pathways over and over again; and those are all things that psychology has proven are malleable.
We can build those skills, we can change those things about ourselves and the only way to write a good book is to write a bad one and look at it and think of all the reasons why it's bad and then make it good. So I've got to do that, it's gonna take a long time but I'm gonna do the thing. You guys have gotta do the thing.

John, stop writing so I can catch up and I'll see you on Tuesday.
Don't stop writing. Bye.