art for all

52. Growth Mindset

March 21, 2022 Daniel Gregory and John Muir Laws Season 3 Episode 52
art for all
52. Growth Mindset
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week John and Danny discuss what it means to have a growth mindset. Listen along as they debate the negatives and positives of a fixed mindset, and the effects either can have on your creative journey. 

From Season 3 of "art for all," the Sketchbook Skool podcast. Join artists/authors, Danny Gregory and John Muir Laws in rich discussions about the creative process.

Get your free ebook and essays at DannysEssays.com


Danny Gregory:

Hi there and welcome to art for all the skeptical school podcast. I am Danny Gregory and I am the founder of Sketchbook school. I'm also a writer and a sketchbook artist and a cohost of this podcast with my friend, John, go ahead, John, introduce yourself.

John Muir Laws:

I'm John laws or Jack. And I am a scientist with a sketchbook and as of recently a lunar observer. So I've been keeping out a lot watching the moon and had had a ton of fun with it. And and I'm, Danny's virtual. So

Danny Gregory:

that's interesting. So you've gone from being last time we talked to you were interested in dabbling in lunar observation, but now it's become part of your identity.

John Muir Laws:

Yup. Usually you are what you observe. Yes.

Danny Gregory:

Full-blown lunatic now. Yeah.

John Muir Laws:

Yeah. It, it, the, the, the lunacy has, has, has, has crept into all sorts of aspects of my life. I woke my daughter up early in the morning on the weekend so that we could go out to a Hilltop to watch the moon rise in the morning. And we stayed up. It was all hazy. We couldn't find the moon. So we just ran around climbing things and catching lady bugs. But eventually saw, saw the moon in the morning. And then last thing before she went to bed, she was out on the back porch with me sitting on my lap with looking through the lens of a telescope as we were looking up at the moon now over in the Western sky and talking about all the patterns and things we saw. And so for the last several days I have just been, been, been deep in moon observation. I got a little break during the new moon because, because the moon you, you can't see the moon. But now that it's back in the sky, I'm my, this, this delightful obsession is.

Danny Gregory:

You know? Yeah. I've been aware of the moon the last few days too. But yesterday my, my sister and my brother-in-law and my niece were visiting us. And so as a treat, we got to go to visit my other brother-in-law. So they're not related who runs this planetarium here at Arizona state university and he's devised this whole planet, right? I mean, he's, it's like this whole sort of center, the department that he's part of is cold. That is the department of its space, or is it earth and space exploration. So it's geologists as well as astrophysicists and all kinds of people all in the same kind of building. And so he runs this. The sort of, it's basically like a center for public education, but they have things like they have a full-scale model of the lunar of the Mars Rover. Like as you come in, there's the full scale model there and there I'm actually updating it now to reflect the new Mars Rover.

John Muir Laws:

A little bit of, of, of, of more red dust on top of the model.

Danny Gregory:

I think they're also giving it like some extra features, like the full like sports pack, you know, like with the now has now has they're taking out the CD player and putting in a, you know, a streaming 2.0 yeah. They're just making it, making it cool. I mean the new one has a, has a drone on it. Yeah. Right.

John Muir Laws:

The idea that our understanding of gravitation is good enough that. Not only can we launch a rocket off of this planet? We can have it D just the descent through the Martian atmosphere was this crazy multistage process as they're decelerating this package and then deploying, you know, all sorts of measures to touchdown. So being able to kind of touch down on Mars and then launch a helicopter. Yeah. Yeah. That's pretty nice. That's that's next level stuff. That's, that's, that's sort of saying, yeah. Your understanding of, yes. Gravitation is just a theory, but our, our understanding of it is useful enough that we can launch a helicopter on Mars. I know science go science.

Danny Gregory:

I know. And what are those Martians thinking suddenly, you know, knowing we all find drones.

John Muir Laws:

That's right. Like, did you know that this is a note drone

Danny Gregory:

zone? I know. They're probably saying like, is that my Amazon package? Oh, no, it's just so guys again. Yeah. So, so then but he took us, he's building a full scale replica of some kind of a speed. Is it a satellite? I'm not sure what it is. Exactly. It's this giant thing with the solar dish on it, and then he's building these huge wings onto it and it's going to hang in the lobby and it's like 75 feet wide. It's a full scale model of this thing. That is basically, is it one of those telescopes they send out into deep space, something like that. Anyway, it's huge. And he's building this perfectly replica out of it, out of aluminum and various other things. Oh, that's fun. Yeah. So but he runs the, the basically we got to go and have a 3d. Through our galaxy and then to the very edges of the known universe. Cause he cause his the dataset that they use to, to create this planetarium is all known information about the universe is in there. So he can fly to any spot in the universe that, that we've gotten data on and yeah. And how much fun. Yeah. So basically he did this really cool thing where he shows all of the, the sort of the Zodiac, right? So you see all of the big dipper and you see all the different Star configurations. And there's like a connective line that draws them crudely. And you realize like how far off from being actually the Zodiac, those shapes are, but then the thing is 3d. So he shows us, we pull out of our galaxy and you see it, not a raid against a flat sky, but you see the stars in three dimensions. So you see them all like sticking up in different directions. You see what I'm saying? If you look at, if you look at don't know, tourists, it's, the stars are all different distances from us. So it becomes this three-dimensional shape was super cool. But then also we flew way beyond that. So you realize those stars that we see with the naked eye are just a tiny, tiny drop in the universe. I find these, these trips to planters often make me feel. So insignificant that I'm kind of depressed for a couple days afterwards. And so I'm still in the, in the fog of that, of the sense of like, here's this gigantic universe and, you know, my troubles don't amount to a hill of beans in this scope of things. It's just, it's,

John Muir Laws:

it's amazing. The, and, and also just the it's this, this Testament to our human capacity to figure stuff out. To, to figure out the structure of this universe that we're in. And that when, when you sit here on you, when you lay in the, on your back on in the grassy meadow, and you look up at the sky, the dome of the sky, it sort of feels like there's this one sort of this, this ceiling over you with little dots painted on it, but then to envision those as this giant three dimensional web that and then, then, then you're, you know, when, when you're, or, or even just visualizing as you're looking out across the Milky way that you're looking out through the edge of your galaxy. So if, imagine the galaxy as this giant pancake of stars, And you're in the middle of that pancake. And if you look out through the top of the pancake, you don't have to look through very much batter, but if you look through the side of the pancake, there's tons of batter there and that's, that's the Milky way. And then you start sort of envisioning this in three dimensions and then you look out and there's the Andromeda, galaxy, naked eyes, visible, whole other galaxy. And then with the with our, our, our telescopes being able to see further and further and further out into space. And then what's fun about that as you're looking out and seeing things that are further out in space, you're looking increasingly back in time. So you're looking into the past, right? This is, this is crazy, crazy.

Danny Gregory:

I know he was pointing out some stars or some things way deep into the universe that were a million light years away or more so that's that the light, by the time it reaches us, those things were happy were existed long before human beings did. I mean more than they were. Yeah. So that's,

John Muir Laws:

that's old, old Vite. That's you're seeing the past. You're, you're actually seeing the past. So if it takes, I don't know, maybe I don't know. Is it six minutes or something for the, for some, how long is it? How long did it take for the sunlight to get to us here? That's just, that's a little bit of time. The. If you're, if you're in the middle of summer laying in your back in the field or those there's these three bright stars that are above you, and then what they call this the summer triangle, it's these three stars of Vega Deneb and the Altair. And they make up the summer triangle. They're each a part of a different constellation, but they're usually overhead in the middle of the summer. And when you look at one of them, you're seeing 16 years into the past. You look at one of the other stars. It's 25 years into the past, and you look at the nib in Cygnus, the Swan, and that's 3,550 years into the past. And it's you're your, your eyes are time-traveling.

Danny Gregory:

It's crazy. It's crazy. I mean, there was also a one point he. Made all of the planets in our solar system into their own, the real relative sizes. So a lot of times like you see, you know, here's Mars and here's Saturn and so forth, and you see them as like a giant thing with rings around them. But when they're actually a little teeny, tiny dot, like even the big planets, a little teeny tiny dot, when you look at the whole scale of our, just our solar system,

John Muir Laws:

the sun. Yeah.

Danny Gregory:

Well, relative to the distances between them. So it's like a little tiny, I mean, he showed us here's the earth and here's the moon. And it's so far away, like we think of you think of the moon as being this thing. That's sort of circling the earth. Relatively close by. But when you see the actual relative scales, not the relative scale, the actual size of them it's so far away, the moon is so far away compared to how big the earth is. It's, it's hard to believe that even has a relationship to us. He also showed us this, the paths of all the planets and how several of the planets, including Pluto are completely different orbital shape. So they're not, they're not on a, they're not flat to the S the S sort of circles that the others are tracing that's because they're newer. And they haven't like, sort of sunk into the same orbitals thing. And the idea is there they're millions and billions of years old to, I dunno, it's the whole thing. It is,

John Muir Laws:

it is, it is so beautiful. Just that a human, the humans desire to figure stuff out. And then our capacity with that, with that James Webb telescope, that they've just put up there. I mean, that's going to allow us to see, so, so, so far back into the past, it's, it's, you know, each one of these little tools is just, this is a, is, is, is going to make our capacity to understand and be in awe of this world because it's, it's not like we're, we're getting this whole thing figured out and we've got all the answers. The more we learn, the more we understand just how much we don't know. And just how, how wondrous this, this landscape is.

Danny Gregory:

Yeah, the James Webb, the fact that it got into position, because I remember him, my brother-in-law telling me, he's like, yeah, it's going to be like a million miles from earth. I thought I'd be like, you know, hundreds of years before it gets there. And then three weeks it was in position or something like that. It was six weeks. Some like it traveled a million miles in six weeks. I don't know. I feel like I'm blathering rattle because it's, it's so incomprehensible to me and I feel

John Muir Laws:

so ignorant about it. W w well, that's also why I was watching the moon. Yeah. Because when, when I'm, I'm watching the moon, what I'm doing is on, on just with the tools that I have in my, my, my, my, my garage or my, my sketch bag. I can look at phenomena around me and start to figure some stuff. And everything that we know about the structure and the shape of the universe has come from people making observations, and then sort of saying like, well, if I'm seeing that, so what's what's going on with that. And well, maybe it's this. Well, if that's true, then I would expect to see this it's it's, it's this, the, the process of looking at, at evidence, rather than just looking something up on the web to try to figure stuff out. And the more you look, the more you realize that there's stuff going on, that I don't understand. And then what I want to do is to To, to, to use that, to kind of leverage my brain, to get interested, to kind of investigate the next step and the next step and the next step, the more you look, the more you realize how much you don't know. So here's, here's my little example of that. So earlier this a few weeks ago I was watching the waning Crescent moon. And so the waning means sort it's getting smaller. So it's almost turning into the new moon where it disappears. So there's a little Crescent. And to do that, I was it would, it would rise sometime in the evening and I would track it until I went to bed, then wake up sometime, or a couple of times, anytime I would wake up in the middle of the night, I would run out. Take some measurements notice where it is, draw some pictures of it and then go back to bed. And I I was recording sort of, so what is the, the, the path of the moon across the sky? And then sort of got to the point where it would come up at, at, at night, but it'd also be out for also part of the day. And I was observing that on this waning Crescent moon that the, the arc of the moon cut sort of this low. So it went up and then down across the sky, but it didn't go as high as, and as far as the arc of the sun, I had expected them both to sort of be on the same track, but they weren't. So I thought, well, that's interesting. And you know, maybe this is some evidence that, you know, if one that, that could be perhaps do, I'm thinking to the plane of the moon's orbit, not being aligned with the spin of the earth, but check this out yesterday. I was out and I observed the moon and the sun all day. So this is with the the, the, now the sun, the we've gone through our phase of the new moon. We're now in the phase of the it's the waxing Crescent moon. And I watched where the sun came up. The sun came up first and. Then a few hours after that the moon came up and the moon was now tracing an arc across the sky on the outside, not the, sort of the, the, the inside of the arc of the sun, but it was on the outside. So sometimes the moon is traveling across the sky, outside of the orbit of the sun and sometimes inside that. And so now what I'm realizing that I need to do is now that's going to get me. I want to track the, the movement of these both on a full moon and also on the half moon. And I'm wondering, you know, like maybe half moons are going to be where there's going to be the greatest difference between the, maybe is it on the full moon that they're going to be traveling along the same arc in the sky. So I'm just starting by noticing. Cool patterns that are going on, and then I'm going to, then that is going to motivate me to kind of get out and observe more patterns. And then I'm going to sit down and just start drawing lots of pictures to try to see if I can kind of come up with some little diagram or model that helps me kind of explain what I'm actually seeing. And that's, that's sort of on a micro level, what we're doing with the universe. We're looking at evidence, we're looking for the patterns that we see. And then we're also Developing explanations for all of these sort of weird unexpected things that we were constantly bumping into.

Danny Gregory:

That's the history of science, right? I mean, what you're doing now is what people did hundreds of years ago. And presumably have already answered a lot of the questions you're asking today. Hopefully. Right? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

John Muir Laws:

So I I'm, I'm very aware that the stuff that I'm doing, I'm not going to be making any new discoveries. Right.

Danny Gregory:

You're experiencing those, that information yourself.

John Muir Laws:

Yes. I'm experiencing the information and I'm intentionally embedding myself into that process of inquiry to sort of see what can I figure out about what's going on in a way that other than Wikipedia.

Danny Gregory:

Yeah. Hopefully one thing you'll experience is that the earth, doesn't the sun not having. Aren't we, the ones orbiting the sun that's right. Yeah. Be referred to the sun's orbit. And I thought I did the two orbits and I thought, well, it doesn't, the sun just kind of stay where it is all the time. And we

John Muir Laws:

all did it. Th th the sun is moving through the galaxy and sort of on its way. And then we're, we're all kind of, we don't need to know what if I, if I had, if I said referred to the orbit of the sun please just account that to you know, you youthful, exuberance and enthusiasm about these, these, these, these, these cool phenomenon that I'm getting to play with to

Danny Gregory:

bring us back to art for all the sketchbook school podcast. I think a lot of what you're talking about is in some ways, true of old drawing that we do right. In the sense that we are. Whenever we're drawing something, we're learning about it, right. We're learning how it operates, how it looks, how it reflects light, what, how it's put together, all those kinds of things like drawing is an exploration of the phenomenon around us. And sometimes the phenomenon inside the phenomenon inside of us, as well as we're expressing emotions and perspectives and subjective, subjectivity and so forth. But I think this idea that drawing, I mean, I think drawing as a means of understanding is at the heart of, of what you're talking about. But I think is also the heart of a lot of what we're doing when we draw is where we are being scientists in some way, drawing, you know, a portrait or drawing a landscape, we're using our drawing to understand it. And What I want to do. So normally what we do, I guess it's time to introduce the podcast started off now, four minutes into it. But two things I wanted to say is one. If you have any comments about what we've said so far, or are going to say, you can email us@podcastatsketchbookschool.com. I'll mention that later on, too, but, but we'd love to hear, get feedback from you. And secondly, the way that generally the way this podcast works is we pick a topic and we explore it in some way. And sometimes we stay close to it and sometimes we go far field, but I think in some ways we have been talking about the subject without really intending to today's subject, which is a term that I wasn't really that familiar with until I've heard you use it now. Which is the term growth mindset. And growth mindset is, is, is it I think it's a relatively new concept. Isn't it? Growth mindset. Is that a new concept in education?

John Muir Laws:

Yes. I think it would probably some of these ideas have been but the terminal had other incurrent carnations and these are built on other ideas, but yeah. That I think that our understanding and this current framing of it, which I find really useful is, is a new phenomenon. The work of Joe bowler and Carol Dweck and others really has turned this into something that we can, it's easier to wrap your head around and then turn that into applied action steps. Right? So I,

Danny Gregory:

I looked at Carol Dweck's book, it's called mindset, the new psychology of success, strange way of putting it exactly, but this new psychology of success so growth mindset. Can you explain what growth mindset is and what fixed mindset means?

John Muir Laws:

Sure, sure. So if you believe. That the brain that you have, the brain that you're born with is the one that you're stuck with. And it has it's it's it's it. And that it is sort of fixed the way it is. So if you have a problem if you, if you have, for instance, difficulty drawing drawing faces, you say I'm, well, then I'm bad at drawing faces that, that the characteristics that you have are fixed, they're not going to change.

Danny Gregory:

Oh, so that even the way that you describe it, I am bad at drawing faces. Yes. Like this, this is who I am. I'm a person who's bad at drawing faces. Right.

John Muir Laws:

Yeah. It, it, it, it's that sort of thinking this way leads to a w which, which is the way that a lot of us think about intelligence and abilities. I'm like, oh, I'm not an athletic person. I'm not a math person. I'm not an artistic person that I there's this characteristic out there called, you know, like being good at math. And some people have it and some people don't. So if you believe that, and you struggle with math and you say like, oh, okay, then I'm not a I'm not a math person. And sort of in this sort of, you know, thinking about then, then, then what, what am I good at? Maybe I should take those things that I am good at and just go do those things, because. I'm stuck with whatever my challenges were. That's, that's the fixed mindset and it's, it's a very pers pervasive idea in how brains work. We used to think that like the human brain developed until some point in adolescence and then stopped and then slowly degenerated over time, depending on how much partying you're doing. Right. But what people who study the brain have figured out is that, that hypothesis of the way that the brain works. It's, it's interesting, but it's just. It's just factually wrong. That's not the way that the brain works. Really. What happens with your brain is that your brain grows continuously throughout your entire life. Laying down new tracks of neurons and new synapses connecting neurons. Your brain is all learning. Is your brain stitching together, new little tracks of neurons. And so you're physically changing the shape of your brain and the, the in order to get your brain to do that your, your brain tends to be kind of a lazy lump of electric meat. And if it doesn't have to build new material, it's not going to If you keep doing something and you struggle with it, that repetition with effort is a signal that gets your brain to like the first time you're, you're doing this, this, this activity, your brain is like, well, that's hard. Please stop it. Then you try it again. Your brain says, that's hard. Please stop it. Then you do it again. And then your brain says like, look, you keep doing this thing. All right, you keep showing up for this, this one activity, I guess I'm going to have to. I'm going to make it easier for myself. I'm just going to devote some neurons to this activity. So then the next time you do it, it's gonna be a little bit easier for me. So your brain is just trying to take the path of least resistance. And because you keep pushing that brain, it's the path of least resistance is then to grow new neurons around this activity. So with practice and work and our effort, we change physically change the shape of our brain and the implications of that on how we think about what we do are profound. And so just this idea of, do you see your brain as this fixed thing, or do you see your brain as this thing that is growing in changing and is plastic and that you actually have you've got a say in this, you get to determine areas that your brain will grow by what you choose to work on. That's the, in, in. That's sort of the, the broad distinction between sort of fixed and growth mindset. And then when you think about, if you have, if you're thinking that you're stuck in whatever you are with the brain that you have, if something is difficult, well, that's probably your brain with that. You'd say, well, that's something that I should avoid, but if you have a growth mindset and something is difficult, you go like, oh wow, this is, this is that's, that's hard. Oh, wow. That's interesting. Right? This feeling of it being hard, that's not a signal that I should stop doing this. That's the feeling of my brain growing. And I wonder what it's going to be like next week. If I keep messing around with this,

Danny Gregory:

I mean, it's analogous to exercise, right? I mean, if you exercise in a way that you've never exercised before, then you end up, you know, you might hurt yourself. You might cause yourself. At least pain and stiffness and those kinds of things. But after a while, it becomes easier to do that thing. And eventually it becomes just part of what you can do. And then if you stop doing it, of course the muscles will atrophy. But, but in general it makes sense that the brain would function like other parts of your body. Right. Why, why would it be so different in some ways it seems with the exception of your DNA, most of you changes.

John Muir Laws:

Yeah. So with, with, with exercise, if you're doing pushups and they, you know, people are saying and, and you, you do it to the point where it hurts, right? That's, that's where the exercise people are saying like, like, all right, you know, give me one more, give me one more, because then you're going to be tearing your little muscle fibers and they're big growing back stronger, and you're going to be like, oh, bolt out the next time you step out of your house. But if you're, if you're thinking, you know, why am I doing this? It hurts. And it's not going to make me stronger. You would put down those weights and go like, well, this is silly. There's no reason to do this. But if you see the relationship between that work and that effort and that struggle and the growth, then that gives you a reason to persist in the face of, of, of those, those, those difficulties or, or, or what's painful.

Danny Gregory:

And I think there's also this sort of old dog, new tricks idea, too, that as you get older, you can't learn new things, you know, your grandkids, right. You're just, and I think there's another phenomenon, which is that you think you've already learned it, you know? And so I wrote this essay, I wrote these essays every week and I wrote this essay last week and it's called actually teaching an old dog old tricks. And the idea was there were things that I learned when I was young. I didn't necessarily learn that well, but I learned them well enough to just kind of keep living with them. And the example I gave was swimming. And I said, you know, I never really learned to swim properly. And I kind of, I mean, I could do enough to kind of fake it. I could sort of dog paddle a bit, but my whole life, I was free to really go into situations where I might be required to swim, because I assumed that I was not gonna be able to do it because I was, you know, I just, I didn't learn when I was young. So therefore, you know, and it's like, you, you know, you might meet an adult who never learned to ride the bicycle. And I think there's this a lot of things that we think we, we can't do anymore, or we learned it well enough that there's no real reason to revisit that learning. And I see it a lot with people with technology. Where people think they know how to use their computer well enough. Good enough. You know, I know how to do certain things. There's a lot of features. I don't know how to use, I'll ask someone else to help me fix it when the need comes up. And, you know, that's again like a resistance to, to going beyond the bare necessities or thinking that you can't or thinking that it there's no point or that it will be impossibly difficult. So

John Muir Laws:

yeah, that's the, this, you, you've just sort of tied in another whole wonderful category of thinking, which is how we, yeah, we, we have the illusion that we understand that our, that our competency in things is, is a lot better than it actually is. And so this is the, and when we have just a little, a little bit of information is a dangerous thing, because then we think, you know, I basically, I understand perspective. Right, right. But understanding perspective, it's actually this deep, deep, well of all this, this rich stuff. And I kind of scratch the surface of it and okay. I've got my horizon line and there's my vanishing point. What else is there to say? But if I and so it's, it's easy to get this, this, this sense that you have, that, you know, something and that you also, we have the illusion that we know a lot more than we actually do. There

Danny Gregory:

may not be that much more to.

John Muir Laws:

Right, right. Yeah. Th th this is that, or, yeah, that, that the, my understanding of whatever it is, is is, is, is sufficient. And that I, it, and, and, and good enough for me to hold forth at a dinner party about it. There's, there's something called Facebook. Yes. Yes. And, and I will, I will, with this, this, this, this knowledge, I will put a comment in the chat about whatever. I think I am, you know, Sage enough to enlighten people on, but you've heard you've been at these, these dinner parties where there's, there's, there's some, there's some topic that you have done the deep dive geeking on, and. You, it, it is, it really is your personal area of mastery and you hear somebody else talking about it and you realize that this person has no idea what they're talking about. Well, the humbling thing to think about is that's actually me, every time I'm talking about something that I also don't have that mastery of. So when, if you just, a little bit of information gives you the, the feeling that you really know this, and you don't have, you don't, you don't see the size of the cloth. You don't see how much other information is out there. You don't have the tools to even understand your own incompetence at it. This is what's called the Dunning Kruger effect in which all of us. Are unable to really assess the degree to which we are not good at the things that we're not good at

Danny Gregory:

the flat world effect, you know, in the sense that the world seems to be flat. So there for, you know, there's no real reason to, to no more than that, you know, I can tell that there's the horizon, the world's flat. And you can survive, I guess, to a certain extent with those kinds of more limited bits of knowledge, that limited bits of information. I think about it with, in terms of art, like I I've used colored pencils for a long time. I've used water colored pencils. Recently we had a workshop on watercolor pencils with a person who's like in the, like the president of the watercolor pencil society or something like that. And she showed us things that you can do with a watercolor pencil that I didn't even know to think to ask about, you know, and you say, well, here's this thing. Seems it's a pencil. What's, what's hard about that. And then you realize, oh, okay. You know, it's like, it's not, it doesn't just look like a plane. It actually flies. You can actually do incredible things with it. And, you know, I think that that's again about, are we pushing ourselves beyond these limits of discomfort, the, that you were talking about before, you know, are we allowing our brain to refuse to, you know, to stop us from trying to expand and possibly losing out on all kinds of experiences and depths and richness? Because I, I, I took a few notes from this book. I thought it would be interesting to talk about the, the Carol Dweck book that we mentioned before which is called a mindset, the new psychology of success by Carol Dweck and She's talking about, she talks about a couple of situations in business, and I think she's talking about Lee Iacocca. Who's the book came out in 2006, so some of the examples are a little dated, but Lee Iacocca was the, you know, the president of, or the CEO of Chrysler. And he kind of brought it back from the dead. And that his whole, his mindset was basically hire the best people and you will fix things, hire the best people. And so then they would go to schools and they would hire the best engineering students. And they would go to, I guess, raid other companies and hire the best people. But because he had a fixed mindset. Or he betrayed a fixed mindset because they provided no infrastructure or resources for people to continue to learn and improve. So you hired like the top student and then you put, then you say, okay, what we're going to do is we're going to constantly evaluate you to see if you are the best and to continue to insist, but we're not going to provide any resources to help you improve and get better. And. You know, as she says, people with a fixed mindset, think that employees who are not perfect from day one will never be so it's best to let them go quickly. And similarly, the people who are the best, you know, give them all the power and just, you know, and everything will be fine. You know, and that's, I think it's also this idea of natural aptitude. I wrote this book called how to draw that talent. And I talked to people a lot about talent because people seem to think that this is a central thing for drawing is that you have to have talent. So you need this natural aptitude to do something well. And that, that basically, it's not about practice. It's not about experience. It's not about pushing yourself. It's just about, do you have it or not? You know? And And also you judge people and yourself by, are you good or bad at something? And I think we see that

John Muir Laws:

and this at this one little moment in time, here's my test. Here's my evaluation. That's your score. And then from that score, I think I can predict your future

Danny Gregory:

performance, right? And so you have all this testing based education, right? Where it's just about going from one set of test to another, and then figuring out like who the best are and preparing them for the test. But that's actually, that is a fixed mindset. It's not, it's just all we have to do to find the right

John Muir Laws:

about like the idea of an IQ test from the point of view of the fixed mindset and the growth mindset from the fixed mindset. This makes total sense. All right, here's this test. You're going to get your number so you can get your number at the end of the day. Now you can figure out, are you an alpha or are you a. Right. And you know, that's going to then determine like what trade I should go into, or sort of the, my, my, my level in the management system. But from a fixed mindset, mindset perspective, that's like, what, w what is the real value of that? Like, this is one little kind of window of this, this one little moment at that point, here's how you scored on those things, which probably just also just reflects how well you slept that night, but the. If, what I want to know is, you know, what are you passionate about? What are you working on? Where are you? What's your growth edge? Where are you moving that? It's, we're not this fixed static point. Here's your IQ. This is this, you're this dynamic growing thing that is going to next week be in a different low side. Right. And and so yeah, the, the, the, the, the testing to evaluate you, reward you or punish you fire you, or hire you and, and keeping that as this. So I think, I think that's a, that's a wonderful

Danny Gregory:

Yeah. There's another note that I wrote from reading. She says since people with a fixed mindset are quick to judge themselves and other people, right. As being good or bad, right. That's, that's kind of what you do is this person good? Is, are they bad at something? They assume that others are judging them all the time, too. Right? So they feel the need to show how talented and smart they are, every chance they get. So, you know, a person like that is not going to be great at collaboration. They want all the credit, right? They want their, and they're probably insecure about their position because everything is hanging on this. Are you good at it or not thing? And you assume that nobody else is going to be somebody who may be bad. Isn't going to get better and whatever level you are. You just need to protect that because if somebody better comes along, then you're out because the fixed

John Muir Laws:

point that's right. And if if I see somebody else, if I've got fixed mindset, I see somebody else who is really doing something well, that is, that's an incredible threat. That's a threat that they're successful at something. Whereas if I've got a growth mindset, I see somebody who's successful at something. I go like, oh wow, what are they doing? Right. What strategies are they doing that is kind of working for them? And how can I use that? And so too, with feedback, if you've got the fixed mindset position, you're stuck where you are and somebody gives you feedback. That is negative. That is insulting. I'm mad at them. I hate them. I find reasons

Danny Gregory:

my wellbeing too. Yeah.

John Muir Laws:

This is the threat. This is a full on threat. Right. And, but if I've got the growth mindset, then I'm actually going to go out seeking criticism and feedback because like, maybe I can find somebody who's got some memory. Maybe I'll get to go to that person who I see really doing well and, and, and, and actually seek out their, their, their, their, their critique, because that's going to, they're going to help me really pinpoint where I need to tweak to kind of get to my next level. So how I think, how I see myself in relationship to others, how I see others, how I respond to that, that, that, that feeds. Really makes a huge difference. Kind of a practical example of this in 2001, I went down to, I left my job at the academy of sciences and I went to down to university of California at Santa Cruz and spent nine months in a scientific illustration program there, they had this wonderful science illustration program and it was a nine months, very intensive, deep dive into strategies and techniques of of scientific illustration. And it was an absolute blast. And I was lucky to kind of get in there with this, just this lovely cohort of people. And we would have these group critique. Where we'd sit around together and we'd put up all the drawings we'd been working on that week. And one by one, we would, we would analyze it. And at the start, the critiques would go, something like this. All right. So what do you folks think about this one? Oh, that's just so nice. Oh gosh. That's lovely. That's just beautiful. Oh boy. Ah, there's just, oh, it looks just so lifelike. What about this one? Oh gosh, that's beautiful. Oh, that's just lovely. And and so this went on for a couple of weeks and you know, people like people would, then people started to kind of get a little bit more impatient with that and they say like, so what, what should I do next? What would, what do I do now, too? Kind of take it to the next step and people would say, oh, frame it. That was the advice, like, what do I do next frame it. And, and then I, I, I wish I remember who it was, but I remember somebody started this, this conversation and they said like, look, we've been having these conversations. People are saying, like I say, I don't want to hear anybody say frame it. I don't want to hear just people kind of gush that, that looks lovely. I want to know what specific parts of this are successful and why they are so that I can do that again. And what specific parts of this are less successful so that I can do that differently. And does anybody have any strategies to do that differently? So when you were giving me feedback and critique. Let's do that. So this person came up and asked the whole group. Fortunately, we had kind of a culture there where we'd liked each other. We respected each other. We could have these conversations. This person basically said no more fixed mindset feedback. I'm not just looking for, to walk out here, feeling warm and fuzzy. I want to walk out of here a better illustrator and they, and then everybody, there was this stunned silence. Everybody's like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. All right. And so the idea of giving feedback as oh, frame, it then sort of became this inside joke that we had about kind of useless feedback. And from that point on. The critiques were these dynamic interesting, thoughtful, helpful strategy sessions to pull us all further and they became so much more useful. And so I've always sort of remembered that, that, that, that pair of things, that to sort of notice what is going well and be specific about that. Not just like, oh, that looks so nice. But this part in here, I really am getting a sense of light in this part because of the way you've handled this contrast right next to this, highlight that dark next to that light, that sparkles that, and this part here, it's feeling a little bit flat from like, see how these lines here are really tangent. That part then becomes a little bit more confusing to me. I want more clarification with the structure, you know, whatever it is to be specific with those things. That is then giving feedback that promotes the growth. And I think

Danny Gregory:

the cliche of getting, I mean, the art school critique, I know there was a movie called art school confidential, and it was about the critiques, which could be completely destroying to people, you know, critiques that were not critique critiques that were probably done within the realm of competition. You know, the notion that there's you know, that you have to rip down of the other artists in order to flourish or that, you know, particularly for people who are insecure in their own art making, they will use the critique as an opportunity to show off their understanding of trends in art or their understanding of art-making and how they're superior to you. So there's also the flip side of that, which is the critique. Is designed just to destroy you. That's not growth mindset. Of course. That's not, let's all learn together. That's I don't, you know, I I'm

John Muir Laws:

sure it works exactly

Danny Gregory:

right. But I think it's also a company that we were talking about before, about, if you have a fixed mindset, you assume that you've got to constantly defend your position

John Muir Laws:

because, and you've got to defend it. You've got to tear other people down. So we were fortunately starting in a place where people were supportive of each other. Right. And but we then were able to take it to the next level by deliberately giving, give me feedback that is going to help me. Because I want to maintain, I want to buy, by the time I'm done with this program, I want to have more of the good strategies and fewer of the less successful strategies and help me kind of even find, find those out.

Danny Gregory:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, I think it's like hiring a consultant. If you hired a consultant to come in and, you know, management consultant, let's say somebody who's going to help you with your corporate strategy or help you to make your product better. Presumably you want them to be honest and productive and useful in their feedback, but you want their feedback because you're paying them for, and I think you can also, you know, you can create a piece of art and show it to people and their feedback and help you to make it better. And it costs you nothing. As opposed to hiring McKinsey or someone like that, where you pay them huge amounts of money. So if we can look at the people who were asking for feedback from as a free asset, a free tool, a way of making things better You know, that's, that's a great resource. And we always say like, put your ego aside, but your ego has nothing to do with this process. You know, growth mindset means that you are always looking to better yourself. You're always looking to, to strengthen yourself and you'll use anything that you can to keep doing that because it's not a judgment on you, your point your position at any point, it is not a judgment on you. It's as simply part of this process, this path that you're on. And if you're a fixed mindset, when you fail at something, it's a complete disaster, right? I mean, it's destroying you. Whereas if you're in a growth mindset, you see it as an opportunity to improve, to go in new directions to get better, to train yourself.

John Muir Laws:

Yeah, that's right. So if, if something is a, a challenge, I'm going to try to avoid it. If it's hard, I'm going to give. Versus if it's challenged, oh, I can actually learn something. That's actually, when, when we're, we're practicing musical instruments with my two little daughters, something that we regularly talk about is that we're learning how to practice. We're learning how to and, and that, that, that you, I want to intentionally in my practice session, get myself into into this point where I am struggling. So I'm not just doing the things that I can do really well. I'm not trying to perform. I am trying to just push myself a little bit outside of the, my envelope of comfort, because that's where, that's where my growth is going to happen. Not so far that I get just flooded with cortisol and panic, but. You know, for the surfer to, to S to surf the wave, that's just a little bit larger than the one that you feel comfortable with. And that's, that's going to be your sweet spot for, for learning and growing,

Danny Gregory:

right? Cause if you have a fixed mindset, you think that any judgment is just revealing the fact that you're a loser, right? So if you are a loser, You can't come back from that because you don't believe you can change. So you're a loser and it's been revealed. So that's why it is so existentially threatening, because this is your lot in life. It's like, it's like living in like a, a caste society or something like that. This is your cast. That's been revealed. You're not moving beyond that position. This is who you are, you know, as opposed to saying, wow, thank you. You've shown me how I can improve this thing. And I see the point that you've made and I, I totally agree with it. Now, my thing is even better. Thanks

John Muir Laws:

to you. You know, there's this one devastating study that was, was done where they took a bunch of kids and they gave them a math test. The kids were writing this math test and they did this math test. And then. Halfway through the math test they, they stop and I guess take out like a milk and cookies break. And during that time, the people running the test pretend to be looking through them and they have a chance to talk with each of the students and to some of them, they say, you know, we've been looking over your scores and how you are doing here. And we observed you taking the test. You are doing incredibly well. You are really good mathematician. You are. You're so good at math. Wow. We're really impressed. Congratulations. You are a great math. And with the other group, they took them aside and they said, well, you know, while we were watching this, we noticed that, you know, you know, there are some places where you kind of, you know, you'd hit a challenge and then you, you approached it in a slightly different way. You kind of took a different route. You were you know, experimenting with different problem solving approaches to to, to investigating some of these things. And you were even when they were, were difficult, when the, the challenging ones were there, you were, you were sticking with it. So giving them feedback about aspects of sort of, you know, not, not for the characteristics of who they are, but positive feedbacks feedback about the approach. Th that, that they were taking. So in one, in one case, they're getting this fixed mindset, even though it's positive saying you're a great mathematician. That is a fixed mindset statement. The other ones were looking at what they did and that's the realm of growth. So then they turn around and they say, all right, now we're going to take the second half of this test. Oh. And by the way, for the second half here, there are two different tests that you can pick up. You get to choose whichever one you want to do, you can do either one, the ones over here in pile a those are questions, just like the ones that you're looking at before that same sort of level of difficulty and challenge these ones over here in pile B. There are, there's a number of different kinds of questions here. Some of them are more, are more difficult, but there are some also some interesting things going on in here. You can pick you up. Those kids who you told you are a good mathematician, the go straight to pile a, those ones that were just like they did before, because they know that they can do it. And if they've got this characteristic called, you're a good mathematician, how devastating would it to be to find the edge of that? And they don't want to see that in themselves. And they also don't want to let down these nice researchers who gave them the cookies. They don't want to displease their parents instead of show other people that I no longer am. Good mathematician. Well, those kids where you talked about the process, they're going to grab those challenging ones from pile B because there's some more interesting things in there and let's see what happens and what could go wrong. So just by giving people feedback, You know, sometimes even positive feedback in the form of a growth, a fixed mindset statement is going to stunt people and prevent them from taking the risk, the, the, the, the risk of the, of, of doing something. And it not, it, it, it not being this, this, this perfect thing.

Danny Gregory:

All right. So it's like, I'm, I I'm good at drawing people. People have always told me I'm not good at drawing people let's draw a landscape. Nah, I'm good. I don't, I draw people. Why wouldn't you try and draw a landscape because I used to being the best at this. Yeah. And when it comes to drawing landscapes, I probably won't be the best because I don't do it. So I don't want the indignity even to myself of not being the best and losing all of the pleasure and power that I think comes with being the best is something I don't want to risk. And I don't want to be like, oh, he draws people really well, but he's not that good at drawing landscapes is not a situation I want to find myself in. So even though I may turn out to be okay at drawing landscapes, I don't want to take the risk. There's no, there's no upside to me. You know, I am the king of this small pond and I have no desire to, to journey beyond it. And, you know, I think it's. It's something that comes from schools too, right? I mean, there, this thing that you were saying, you're a good mathematician. Or as we were talking before, you're a natural athlete. You're good at you. You have a great singing voice, all these things that were told or worse and more likely, you know, you really can't sing really not that good. You're not that good at reading you. Yeah. So why don't you go and do this other thing? That label that gets put on us often carelessly and with insufficient information and also reflective of a fixed mindset. The idea that, I mean, cause for schools in general, schools want to be efficient and it's much more efficient to be able to categorize people in late. Right. And to be able to fast track certain people and be able to put people into boxes. It makes it easier to handle them in underfunded, large educational institutions. So it's kind of built into the process by and large, not to help every single individual Excel at anything or try or at least experiment everything. We would rather that people are more predictable fit into categories and, you know, worked within the boundaries. So that, that that's sort of, and I think as adults, we can look at this and we can be objective about that and say, okay, this identity that I created for myself or that somebody else created for me may not really be

John Muir Laws:

necessary any longer.

Danny Gregory:

You know? And if I'm was never told that I have artistic talent when I was a kid, maybe that has nothing to do with who I am today. And somebody else had some other agenda when they said that. And. Yeah, I can ignore it and improve and, and try new things. I mean, cause babies are born with a growth mindset, right. Babies don't assume that they are anything in particular. They want to learn and go and try all different kinds of things. So it's, I mean, it gets imposed on us at some point

John Muir Laws:

in our development. So yeah.

Danny Gregory:

I think it's also the idea that within a class you want to pay attention to the ones who are doing well or the ones who are gonna be the easiest to deal with. So therefore you support and encourage the best students. And then you put other, you know, lower performing students into special programs or you just kind of ignore them. And so it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. So, what do we do if we're adults and we've basically been living within the fixed mindset, our whole lives, how do we, how do we get out of that and do it, should we get out of that? Yeah, because I mean, I th I think that there may be certain categories of things in life or a fixed mindset is okay. Like, you don't have to reinvent how you tie your shoelaces every morning. Got a better

John Muir Laws:

way of tying shoes. There is there there's, there's a better technique. I can teach you the Carolyn technique perfected by my daughter. A C there's the regular way of tying shoes, then there's the slightly better way. And then there's the Carolyn version that you can makes it not, that will not come undone when you don't want it to is easy to untie when you do want it to. But and, and the bow is straight across the top, but that we can save for another time better done in a probably not explained on a podcast

Danny Gregory:

probably requires some video. Yeah.

John Muir Laws:

But the but I think first step is to it actually. So, so growth mindset is something that can be taught and it's something that is now being taught in schools. Right. And what you want part of that is understanding the science behind it. And just looking at there's now a huge body of evidence. In neuroplasticity, the ability of our brain to grow and change with work and effort. And so to geek out on that and just kind of like, whoa, so my brain can change at, at any age based on the work that I'm doing, that is really, really interesting. And to realize then also to start to kind of categorize things that you hear and think as well, is that kind of a growth mindset message or is that a fixed mindset message? Because there's lots of subtle, implicit fixed mindset messages that we hear all the time. Even saying to, if I say to my daughter, you are such a good artist, it is positive and it's better than saying you are a bad art. But it's also a fixed mindset statement. What if I instead said, wow, this last month you have put in so much work on your drawings and look at how much better it's gotten. That is incredible. I can just see the effect of those hours that you put in there. And I'm really proud of you.

Danny Gregory:

Okay. But just to play devil's advocate, fixed mindset is also can be a very positive, reassuring, reinforcing place to be. You're good at this. Why do those things you're not good at do the things you're good at that people praise you for that have, you know, provides security and predictability for you. You don't need to go shaking everything up all the time. You don't need to constantly be growing and changing. That's part of the reason that your brain re you know rebels against being forced to do new things. You know, it's perfectly comfortable to sit in this armchair. It's perfectly comfortable to, you know passive and

John Muir Laws:

Connell, and there's, there's the danger because just as your brain can grow, if you stop challenging your brain, your brain will start pruning unused branches off the tree. So for many people after they retire, there is a mental health. And it is not because they are a certain age. It is because when they were working, their brain was constantly stimulated and challenged and they're having to work. And when they retire, they didn't know what to do. So they got a Barca, lounger and Netflix,

Danny Gregory:

Hey, I have a Barcalounger and Netflix.

John Muir Laws:

And, but if, if that is, if that is the extent of the degree to which you challenge yourself. So, so actually being on some challenging part of a growth curve is good for our brains and is going to keep our brains growing and plastic and moving. If we make it really easy for our brains that doesn't require work, our brains can, you know, we'll. We'll trim branches off our tree. So it is comfortable. It is a nice pleasant feeling to think I'm so great. And then sit on your bar, Barca, lounger, but it is in that struggle that we grow our brains and it's in that struggle that we maintain our brains. And so I would say for long-term right there, there's nothing wrong with every once in a while, sitting in a Barca lounger and every once in a while watching something on Netflix. Okay. But if you want to this, this brain that you have this wad of electric meet between your ears, it is yours and it is responsive, responsive to what you do, and it is responsive to what you don't do. And so if you are complacent with it and you don't challenge it, it will. And we will suffer a cognitive decline from that. So on the other hand, we, if we get it getting out there and playing with our brain is such a wonderful thing. And also if you are not on that, that sort of, let's kind of go back to the Lee Iacocca problem. Eventually Lee's going to find somebody else. Who's now the new better person and you're going to be replaced. If you were just a static cog where you were

Danny Gregory:

well, I think what actually happened with Lee, which is part of the same continuum is he thought he'd done his job. So he became complacent and lazy cause he was like, well, I brought in the best people. That's my job here is done. There's nothing else to do. I don't have to continue to stimulating and creating new challenges and, and reorienting and getting better. It's just a matter of like, you know, garbage in garbage out, or have no, that's not the right term, but I've, I've, I've rebuilt this building. And so now I'm done and supposed to thinking of it as a garden that constantly needs to be grown and, and challenged and preowned and new feed. I think another part of it is also the reason that we need growth mindset is because we live in a time of change. We don't live in a fixed world now more than ever, but it's always been true to some extent, but now more than ever, if you can't deal with change, what are you going to do? If there's a pandemic, what are you going to do? If you need to depend on technology that you refuse to learn to use? You know, if you are, if you have a fixed mindset, he say, I don't use computers. I don't use. I don't, you know, I'm not going to, I'm not gonna order groceries from my phone. I'm not gonna you know, I'm not gonna learn, I'm not going to get an electric car. I'm not going to deal with change. Well, it's going to be forced upon you by the universe. And so if you are not willing to be flexible and open, you're going to end up having to rely on other people to do these things for you, because you refuse to learn yourself and ultimately you lose your freedom and you lose your, you know, your self, you know, controlling your own destiny and place in the world because you are not willing to, to change. And, and you think you can. I think that's a lot of it. I mean, there's nothing worse than hear a kid say it might, my dad's stubborn. He'll never change. He always says the same thing. And so therefore we've had to take over this or that. And therefore, you know, he, isn't going to experience all the great things that he could experience because he just won't open his mind to it. You know, and I think that that's something none of us want to be in that position. And that's one of the things that comes about from just having this fixed mindset. So I think it's, I think it's a fascinating topic. I think it's interesting to learn about it. I think we've done a fairly good job of kind of laying down some of the reasons to think about it. And I think it's an absolutely essential part of being an art. Yes, absolutely. To be pushing yourself, learning new skills, pushing the subjects that you willing to draw the materials. You're willing to use the places you're willing to take your art. There's so many places to go with it and we have to be open to it. And, and try out new stuff. Hey, I think it's time to start thinking about wrapping this up. So I wanted to remind you again, we, we love feedback, particularly constructive and productive feedback. So please write to us@podcastatsketchbookschool.com with any insights and input you might have for us ideas. Questions, anything you'd like to say to us, please email us and tell us. And do you have any final parting thoughts for us, Jack?

John Muir Laws:

I guess a parting thought is something that we all can do to help. Adopt more of a growth mindset. And by the way, everybody has a mixture in them. Even Carol Dweck and Joe bowler, the key researchers in this we'll have, you know, the, the, the, the, the fixed mindset, thoughts and ideas will pop into their head. But one of the really powerful things you can do to start to unpack and redirect that kind of thinking and energy is is just the term yet. It's a really powerful idea. I can't draw faces. Anytime that you're thinking I can't bust out your yet on it. And the, when you start slapping some yet onto that kind of thinking, it opens it up into as, as a possibility for your future, right? And also to embrace the idea that something that I, anytime my daughters say, this is hard. They know what I'm going to say next. And that is that's the feeling of your brain growing, right? So things that are worth doing often take effort and energy and are challenging. And because something is hard, that's not, that's not the signal that you should be doing something else. That's the signal that your brain is being challenged. And that's the place that you want to be in, in order to grow it. That's a

Danny Gregory:

great closing thought. Thank you so much. And thanks again, Jack. I'll see you next week. We discussed something else. I

John Muir Laws:

look forward to it, Danny.

Intro
Go science!
Human capacity to figure stuff out
Drawing as a means of understanding
Today's Topic: Growth Mindset
Brain development
Dangers of a fixed mindset
Critiques
Accepting the challenge
Self fulfilling prophesy
The positive side of a fixed mindset
Final thoughts