The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment

The fixed mindset limits achievement.

When we think about scientists, we imagine one person spending time on the research, in the laboratory and suddenly discovering an invention. But the truth is that many scientists, including Edison or Darwin, worked on big teams, spending half a lifetime before their ideas reached fruition. Teamwork is the key.

Depending on the mindset, there are different types of learning. Growth, mindset students look for ways to study and are focused on learning the topic, meanwhile fixed, mindset students would do almost everything to get a good grade, except hard work and learning.

It is possible to change our way of thinking by asking ourselves different questions, for example: “How can I do it?” not “Can I do it?” and “How will I learn it best?” instead of “Can I learn it?”

Again, motivation is crucial. They think that talent is the ability itself, but what feeds it, is hard work, challenges, and endless curiosity. Benjamin Bloom, who studies over 120 outstanding achievers (artists, sportsmen, scientific, doctors), discovered that most of them were average as children or even early teenagers. Only their constant motivation, curiosity, and very hard work led them to the top. What is important to remember is that the test score tells you where you are, not where you can be.

It is good to know about the danger of praise and positive labels. It is much better to praise for the effort like “Wow, you got 8/10. That’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.” instead of “Wow, you got 8/10. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.” That small difference can put people into the growth or fixed mindset. When we praise for talents, people are scared to lose that affirmation and they avoid challenges. If we appreciate the effort, people will want to take on new tasks and learn new things.

Negative labels also can be a danger for the fixed mindsets. They are afraid of deserving it. Stereotypes can cause a lot of damage, as people feel that they do not deserve something, like many minorities who gave up at college, or many women who gave up math and science classes because they were told they were not smart enough.

Actions to take