It doesn’t matter what area of life we long to improve, mindset is absolutely critical. Where we set our sights? That’s where we will go. But I get it, life is exhausting. Many of us are still on summer mode, perhaps struggling to get in gear and on a schedule.
The magic has fizzled and our flame has all but gone out. I feel your pain *fist bump* That’s why today we’re gonna dive into the deep and explore three ways to reignite that MOJO! Mojo…you know. Magic, passion, story sorcery?
That thing your kids probably drown in Cheerios and milk over summer vaca OR you put it someplace you’d remember where you put it? Yes, that.
It’s cool. You’ll be all right.
First, an illustration 😀 .
My newest favorite book is The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn, and what I like about it is there are 365 mysteries, one for each day of the year.
The Parable of the Straight Path
One of the stories in the book talks about an ancient and powerful king who promised that any man who could make it to his kingdom walking a perfectly straight line would be allowed to marry his daughter (which essentially would put the suitor in line for the crown of this vast and wealthy kingdom).
Key fact to note: The castle could be seen from all around because on top of the highest tower a large flame burned day and night.
Suitor after suitor tried and failed to complete the challenge even though the terrain was a rough, rocky, mountainous mess. They’d get there, but none managed to complete the journey walking a completely straight path.
Then, finally, one man achieved this seemingly impossible goal. The king, awestruck, asked how the young man managed to accomplish such a feat.
The suitor replied, “I set my eyes on that beacon on top of your castle and walked toward that, one foot in front of the other, no matter what.”
See, the other suitors (who failed) took their eyes off the beacon and, instead, paid attention to the paths, the roads, the rocks, the thickets and thorns and hills. They focused on everything but what mattered most…the end goal.
In life, we run into this same scenario all the time. Many reading this blog have a goal of being professional authors who are paid well to do what they love.
But then we see laundry, and housework and bills, and all the KDP drama, and Amazon and the competition and on and on and on. Not only does this make for a formula to get utterly lost, it’s also a recipe to give up because we get overwhelmed.
Thus, today, I want to hand on some lessons I’ve learned through almost two decades of doing some things right, but most things wrong. Smart folks learn from their own mistakes, but wise folks learn from the mistakes of others 😉 .
#1—REMEMBER Talk is Cheap
Oh this one was a toughy for me. Still is. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. We need to be really careful who we allow access into our lives, who we partner with for any kind of a goal. Sure, they may make promises with a silver tongue, but pay close attention to their track record.
I’ve been burned by this one so badly, I practically needed ego debridement. Remove all the damaged singed stuff and hope to heavens it healed.
Folks I delegated important matters to, knowing these people had a history of flaking out or bailing when stuff got hard. Oh, but they promised…
Yeah. Talk is cheap and your time (my time) is valuable.
I have to use this on lecture myself as well, btw. Less talking and more doing. It isn’t real until it’s on paper. Period. We want to set our goals (our MOJO) on fire…not ourselves.
#2—UNDERSTAND Failure is Priceless
Talk might be cheap but failure? Failure is priceless. Failure will teach us a million times more than success ever will. Humans are wired to learn from failure.
Not a single human has ever been born and, on Day One, could run track and quote Shakespeare (or these oddities were born, then promptly flown in black helicopters to Area 51 for study).
We learn by failing. This doesn’t apply only to babies but to all of us at all ages and in all things.
Because when we fail, often this happened because we were reaching for something beyond our current abilities. We were adding weight to the bench press machine beyond what was easy. Trying and failing and going again makes us stronger, smarter, faster and wiser.
No entrepreneur creates a juggernaut business by magically knowing all the right moves. No marriage lasts twenty or fifty or sixty years without mishaps and mistakes and pressing on through the pain.
Failure is the greatest gift we can be given.
It can show us where we are weak, strengthen what is lacking, reveal flawed ideas or tactics and help us learn better ones.
“Failure” can also reveal happy accidents, success we never actually planned in the first place. Check out this post on 10 Products Discovered by Accident, which includes but is not limited to Viagara, coffee, and chocolate chip cookies 😉 .
The odd thing about Western culture is we SAY we value innovation and breaking rules…then we send kids to school to teach them to follow rules, not to question and that failure is bad, mistakes are terrible and to avoid both at all costs. BUNK!
This means there is a lot of loser-indoctrination we need to unwire from our brains.
Fear is not always the enemy. Fear is often a sign we might be onto something…or not. But we won’t know unless we try.
So, go hit it with a stick. See what happens and if you can create a spark, then a fire, then a BLAZE. We fail. Okay, big deal. Dust off. Assess, adapt and try something new.
#3—DIVE Into the Deep
I tend to be a rather fearless (okay stupid) person. I’ve traveled to some of the most dangerous places on the planet, climbed cliffs, jumped out of planes, and even worn stretchy pants with patterns on them *shivers*.
I am not proud of that last one. Thighs like mine with patterns? Warn any epileptics. Just saying.
Anyway, I DO have a phobia of open deep water or Bathophobia. Figures I would get a phobia with a lame name. Pyrophopia? Way sexier.
But seriously. Hang me off the side of an ocean liner in the middle of the Atlantic and I’d confess everything down to the time I shoplifted bubblegum from the drug store when I was three. Heck, I’d confess to stuff I hadn’t even done just to get back on deck.
Aye, I did spake with the Devil and gaveth him cookies and he gaveth me blog ideas…
But why am I so terrified of open water? Lack of control. Who knows what is beneath me? My fairly definitive position at the top of the food chain evaporates. And my swimming skills? Are on par with Frank Horowitz from Accounting’s breakdancing skills.
As we back away from the metaphor we see that most of us are afraid of the deep. We like the shallows.
Shore is close. We have more control. We aren’t fully committed. Problem is, most of the good stuff is going to be out in the deep, the place we are most afraid to go. Where MOST OTHER people are afraid to go.
When it comes to writing (or business or love or family or sports or whatever) we need to go where others are afraid to. Where WE are afraid to because that is where the most growth will happen the fastest.
I guarantee you my swimming skills would vastly and immediately improve if tossed off the side of a Carnival ship. I would definitely be FIRED up to swim so fast Michael Phelps would be eating my wake.
We won’t (can’t) gain new skills, better skills or even mastery in the shallows. We need to go out into the deep because the deep scares us and fires our @$$es UP! Thus, today, I challenge you to define your “deep.”
Years ago, my “deep” was starting a blog. O…M…G. I was petrified.
When I started blogging, I had the skin of a grape and absolutely fell apart at any kind of criticism. Additionally, I had the self-discipline of a possessed chipmunk with a bad crack habit and unlimited access to Pixie Sticks.
Not exactly ingredients for a NYTBSA (which was what I longed to become).
This meant I needed to fire my muse. She was too nice and resembled my grandma who gave me all the candy I wanted and told me to take lots of naps. Instead, I had to hire Samuel L. Jackson who yells at me and is unafraid to make me cry.
Most of all, I had to jump into the deep. The more I blogged, the better my writing. The more haters I got, the tougher my skin (and the more SLJ Muse yelled at me and promised to bust a cap in my @$$). The more I trained, the more disciplined I became, but this never would have happened in the shallows.
So TODAY. Define your DEEP (and maybe hand your muse a pink slip). Then, while you pursue YOUR DEEP remember talk is cheap and failure is priceless. Keep pressing and moving forward with your eyes on the beacon of flame (the goal). And hey, unlike me? You have help, a team.
We are not alone 😀 .
What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with doubt? Distraction? What distracts you most and why? Is it fear you might really do something remarkable? Are you afraid of failure? Have you overcome that fear? What is your deep? Does it have a name? Have you even taken time to ponder what it is?
Do you need to fire your muse? Who would you replace him or her with? Inquiring minds want to know!
I love hearing from you!
For the month of September, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NEW CLASSES FOR SEPTEMBER AND MORE!
All classes come with a FREE recording!
We’ve added in classes on erotica/high heat romance, fantasy, how to write strong female characters and MORE! Classes with me, with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds, award-winning author and journalist Lisa-Hall Wilson, and Kim Alexander, former host of Sirius XM’s Book Radio. So click on a tile and sign up!