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Just the Tip of the IcebergIt’s easy to get discouraged when you see other people out there who are successful. We tend to assume that some people have talent and others do not. We may make blanket statements to ourselves, “Wow, they are a natural.” Sure, some people are quite skilled. More often than not the fruits of one’s labor came from their focused effort and a growth mindset. We cannot see the hours of practice. We do not have knowledge of their demoralizing failures. The challenges they encountered on their rise to the top are not obvious to the outsider. It’s sort of like that one Facebook friend who always seems to be out on fantastic vacations. What’s going on with that? Is that a job? As a kid, if you were fortunate your friends and family cheered you on. They said things like “You are one smart kid!” or “You are a natural athlete.”. These compliments are well intended, but the trouble is they focus only on ability. Stanford Professors studied two groups of children. One group received praise for ability and the other praise for effort. The study found that children praised for effort were likely to exhibit persistence, determination, and grit. The ability group seemed to get frustrated and give up when faced with challenges. Why might this be? Focusing on ability doesn’t result in long term effort. It leaves little room for improvement and persistence. It’s important to congratulate yourself for showing up. It emphasizes trying as opposed to a fixed attribute. The effort is what gets us where we want to go; abilities only give us a short boost.
Be a Grower Not a Show’erThe idea of a Growth Mindset is one that suggests our abilities and talents are not fixed values. Adopting a Growth oriented Mindset is the most important ingredient for your personal development and success. Author Peter C. Brown stated in his work “Make it Stick”:
“Whether you believe intelligence is fixed at birth or it is malleable, scientists are discovering you’re right.”The belief that one’s abilities are set at birth provide little room for growth. Thinking this way gives you little to work with. The deck is already stacked and you can’t win. It turns out thinking the sky is the limit creates space for potential. This is the mindset needed if you ever expect to excel in any area in life.