Can the World’s Worst Novel help you develop a growth mindset?

19 April 2023

Mike Hickman, Leadership Development and Training Manager at Community First Yorkshire, has been in post for a few months. Here he shares his thoughts on the power of growth mindsets and how we all need to embrace challenges through continued learning and development.

“I kept the World’s Worst Novel on my person for the longest time. It came with me in my bag to conferences and events, both national and international. It was there when I taught primary age children, teacher trainees, and drama students.

It will probably come as no surprise to learn that what I call the World’s Worst Novel was not published. Neither was it the World’s Worst Novel – it was a very determined and brave first attempt.

It might come as more of a surprise that it was written by me.

When I was twelve. On an Olivetti Lettera typewriter. Drafted the once, bundled into a Jiffy bag and sent off to the publisher I knew was going to snap it up for a seven figure sum.

When I worked in teacher education, I was introduced to Carol Dweck’s concept of fixed and growth mindsets. As Senior Lecturer and later Head of Programme and Department at York St John, I worked with undergraduate and postgraduate students from ages 22 through to 60+. And I wanted them to know that the Ofsted-badged outstanding practitioner could one day be them. With the right work and the right care and attention in the right places, they would become leaders of classes, subjects, schools, and communities.

It helped for them to know about things like the World’s Worst Novel, which found itself relabelled as my personal Draft Zero for everything that followed for me, all the way to a doctorate and beyond.

It helped me to model my own attempts to fulfil Dweck’s goal of a growth mindset.

And now I find myself at Community First Yorkshire as Leadership Development and Training Manager. Picking up on the excellent work already done to craft a training programme for VCSE organisations in North Yorkshire. Striving to ensure that our training reaches ever more people and is of the highest possible quality, so that we can achieve our collective ambition in the sector of creating more resilient, resourceful, and confident communities. I could not be more delighted in playing my part in such an important mission and growing together.”


If you need guidance on running your charity or group in North Yorkshire, take a look at our training and leadership development programmes. From being an effective trustee, fulfilling your potential as a leader or raising the profile of your organisation, we can help.