I missed an important quiz from one of my university courses last week that was worth a chunk of my grade.
A small chunk, but nonetheless made an impact on how well I’ll be able to do in that class.
As someone aiming to get into highly competitive post-graduate universities, even one mistake can feel like a weighty threat to my future success.
For a few minutes, I felt really stressed and upset. I felt angry that something so easy to do – let one quiz slip your mind because of all the others on that day – could leave a mark on all my hard work from my entire degree.
Blows like this, big or small, can feel debilitating.
Running from failure
For a long time, I was someone who would want to shrink back at the confrontation of failure and never go near that thing again in order to protect myself from feeling so disappointed.
This reaction may seem extreme to some, but I’m sure to others it resonates.
In the world around me, these thoughts and feelings seemed to be encouraged.
At school, sports and music teams would test entire classes of students and see which lucky few were the quickest to catch on and then shut the doors to anyone else.
All the adults I knew would hear about my grades and congratulate me, ensuring me I must be very clever, even though I put minimal effort in and wasn’t always doing well socially.
It became clear to me what was most important; how naturally talented you are must determine how far you will go with your life.
So, I must never have to try very hard at anything then since I was born so smart! Yippee, lucky me!
Wait a minute…
If we observe many of the well-known greats, those known for their achievements and impact, we will see an important shared quality. Not simply natural-born intelligence or success in schooling (often we see the opposite of these), but a developed grit.
It is profoundly more important how hard you’re willing to work than what you’re “naturally gifted” with.
Did you know that the brain can grow and develop, even as an adult?
Current research shows that as you practice and learn new things, certain parts of your brain increase in size. Much like muscles, as you study and work hard, you will expand in your capacity and, drum roll please… your intelligence!
So, natural-born intelligence…
That’s great and all, it can help you start off a little further ahead than others.
However, without hard work and the willingness to fail and try again, you’ll be quickly surpassed by anyone putting the effort in and also feeling quite sheepish that the kid you deemed “stupid” in middle-school is now your boss!
If you’re someone who struggles to work through challenges or if you know someone that sounds like this, share this article and watch the video below, Developing a Growth Mindset with Carol Dweck of Stanford University. https://youtu.be/hiiEeMN7vbQ
She coined the Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset term, and has been involved with many incredible studies about how important it is to see failure as a challenge… I’ll leave you with that.
Laura Murphy is an excitable and fast-paced Brit, living in Australia. She can’t sit still; she has a serious addiction to sudoku, and she can be won over by a good cup of tea and a laugh. Studying to become a doctor, she is expectant and excited to see all that God is going to do with her life.