A story: Two shoe salesmen were sent overseas by their home office to scout out new markets. Their first stop was a country where everyone was barefoot. The first salesman sent back a telegram to the company headquarters saying, “Leaving tomorrow. No one wears shoes. “
The second salesman’s telegram contained the opposite message. It said, “Great potential market. No competition.”
Love this story! It captures so well the importance of attitude. One salesman had a “glass half empty” mentality, and the other a “glass half full” frame of mind. And what a difference their outlook made in how they approached a challenge!
Whatever writing roadblocks we’re facing, the same goes for us. As my great friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert * says so well, when we hit a difficult patch, we have two choices: We can become “frustrated or fascinated.”
Frustration is a downward spiral — it leads to contraction and a focus on problems rather than problem solving. Fascination has the opposite effect: It expands our outlook, sparks our curiosity, and ignites our ingenuity and creativity.
Mindset matters! And we can cultivate a can-do mindset — one that helps us push forward when we face an obstacle instead of retreating. Even if it feels strange to us at first, we can nourish a positive mindset by taking small steps — by creating small wins that prove to ourselves the power of getting fascinated instead of frustrated.
We can also help ourselves embrace this mindset by asking, “What if” questions when we hit a roadblock. “What if … I did X?” or “What if I did Y?” This simple approach shifts us into problem-solving mode — suddenly we’re not just stuck, we’re focuses on getting unstuck — and that can make all the difference.
Sometime soon you and I are going to hit some kind of roadblock in our writing. And when we do, let’s remember the two salesmen, the island where no one wore shoes, and the power of fascination. Write on!
* Check out Dr. Gilbert’s podcast: http://www.thesuccesshotline.com.
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