whoever you want to be…

Becoming an Incremental Theorist

2013diaryHave you ever undertaken a project, without really understanding its true value? Well, I discovered I was doing just this, very recently, and was completely unaware!

Back in January, I decided out of a ‘relative nowhere’, that I wanted to undertake the #365 ‘take a photo a day and post it to Instagram’ challenge. I also decided that I would keep a daily diary, because I always enjoy stumbling onto old diaries/letters/poems/etcetera, and remembering what it was to live in that particular moment. At least, that’s what I thought I was doing.

And then, I read this article.

To give you a little bit of context: I have a LOT of unfinished projects, books and ideas on the go. I always have, really. Those old diaries I stumble upon generally have a few entries over a few months, before my writing disappears into oblivion. I have an exciting fiction project that I seem to get out every March, add a few sentences, and then put to bed again. I have, at current count, about 16 craft projects I’m simultaneously working on; and by working on, I mean ‘whip out about once every six months and add a little more to it’. And as for ideas… well, I’ve got apps, notebooks, diaries, documents and brain cells full of them!

Now, I like being an ideas person. I like to think creatively and to have lots going on in my life. I genuinely don’t think that will ever change, nor do I want it to. However, what I didn’t realise was that I was leaving so much undone, because of deep-seated Entity Theorist belief systems.

Entity Theory says that we are “born with a talent” (or not), and as we develop this belief, it leads us to pursue things we’re “good at”, and give up easily on things we’re not.  And I realised, when I really thought about it, that when I was working on my projects, if I got to a “stuck point”, got frustrated, felt bored, or couldn’t think of the next sentence… I would set it aside, and only sporadically come back to it.

So, how does this relate to photos on Instagram and entries into a diary? Because it’s about keeping my word to myself, and following through.

Personal integrity is something I didn’t know much about, as a concept, until I started attending a lot of leadership seminars five years ago. It was the beginning of a journey, in which I realised how often I did not keep my promises – not so much to others – but primarily to myself. And the trouble is, that when we don’t keep the promises we make to ourselves, we teach ourselves that we cannot be trusted to follow through. And what often happens, with time, is we just stop trying altogether. One of my favourite leadership authors, John Maxwell, said this of Personal Integrity: that “the key is being willing to do something because it matters, not because it will get you noticed.”

If we can stick with our values, or a spirit of excellence, or a commitment to see a project through – particularly when it comes to “the small stuff” – we build our resilience for resistance (just try writing a book, and you’ll experience that!), we reinforce to ourselves (and others) that we are worthy of trust, and we get to experience the joy of completion. Giving up part way doesn’t provide any of that!

So, what’s Incremental Theory? According to Karen Salmansohn, it is “the belief that success is achieved through putting in the necessary hard work”. And it’s true: you could be the most talented person in the world, but if you never put it into action, you’d never see success!

This year, for me, is about rebuilding my trust in myself. I’m working on building my focus (starting and finishing a craft project!) and learning to follow through (hooray, for personal integrity!).

So, it may look like some inane scribbles in a bright pink diary, and some amateur photos on Instagram to some; but for me, it’s making a statement to myself that I do have value, and that I can achieve what is important to me.

Today, it may be something small. Imagine what I will create next!

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About Erin Le Clerc

Erin is a psychologist, facilitator and life coach. She's also a writer, traveller, singer, dreamer and award winning air guitarist. She's passionate about encouraging people to live and love to their fullest potential, while having a bit of fun at the same time.

6 comments on “Becoming an Incremental Theorist

  1. YES! This is me, to a T. And I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the same year that I’ve finally stuck to my thought-a-day diary for more than a month I’ve finally finished the first draft of that fiction project. And instead of being discouraged by its crappiness, I am encouraged by its existence and confident I can improve it.

    Onwards. 🙂

    • Erin Le Clerc
      March 19, 2013

      I love this, Alex. I absolutely agree. I think once you start keeping promises, bigger things come easier! All in the flow of life, eh? ❤

  2. Marina Schulz Tork
    March 21, 2013

    I’m like that too! Hahaha I’ve had like 8 diaries in all, and I’m 16.
    What I recently started doing, is I have a really big pink oxford notebook that I write in during class or when I’m a bit bore in school. It’s kinda like a diary, only I have these diary entries which are coded in this alphabet only I can understand (a is the square root symbol, b is a circle, c is a filled in circle..), but it also has other stuff like drawings, which are pretty decent considering I have no formal training, song quotes, poems I write et all.
    But yeah, I also find I have about 600 projects going around at once which I never finish. I finally did do, last week I finished writing a short story! I submitted it for a competition, here’s hopping I win 😀

    • Erin Le Clerc
      March 21, 2013

      Hi Marina 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only person with a super busy brain! It’s nice to have lots of projects, but I’m finding a lot of satisfaction in getting some of mine done!! Congrats on finishing your first short story – I hope you win too! 🙂

      • Marina Schulz Tork
        March 21, 2013

        Thanks for your support 🙂 it’s be nice but I doubt it. It’s my first attempt and some people have been at it for ages now. But thanks anyways! 😀
        Ps: If I do win, I’ll tell you, ok? 😉

      • Erin Le Clerc
        March 21, 2013

        Yes, do, Marina! You never know. Have you read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho? It’s all in the Beginners’ Luck…

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