Little Bets

Little Bets, by Peter Sims, is a wonderful little book on the creative process that I highly recommend, not only because it showcases the necessary mindset for successful Lichtenbergians, but also because it focuses on the creative process in fields other than the arts.

The joking nature of Lichtenbergianism conceals the very solid basis of creative truths on which is founded; Little Bets lays out these truths in a very accessible way.  Thus, you learn about "fixed mindset" vs. "growth mindset"; failing quickly to learn fast; and similar ideas.  All of these correlate directly to Lichtenbergianism's ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS, SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION, and GESTALT.

For example—and this has become one of my favorite quotes—when his team is stuck on a design problem, architect Frank Gehry will look at the crappy little model he and they have built out of cardboard or whatever has been lying around the studio, and he will say, "Let's look at it for a while and be irritated by it."  In other words, take a step back from the problem and let it tell you what's wrong with it.  Pure GESTALT.

I think that many people stop themselves from creating because they have a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset.  In other words, they fear failure because they have not learned to regard negative feedback as valuable.  They believe that their creative ability is fixed and static, that whatever they believe about their ability is the truth and cannot be changed.  They draw that first line with trepidation, and then if it's not "right," they quit.

A Lichtenbergian, on the other hand, has a growth mindset.  Effort is the path to mastery.  A challenge is a good thing.  Failure is just part of the cycle of creativity.

Little Bets shows you how, rather than falling prey to the "all or nothing" trap, you can Make theThing That Is Not little bit by little bit.  No one writes a symphony all at once.  No one proceeds smoothly from idea to finished product.  No one finishes a painting or a poem or a garden without going back and correcting some "mistake."

The secret is to make little bets.