A common misconception, for many people, is that in order to be successful at something, they to have an inborn talent or be gifted in a certain area. However, research indicates that is not necessarily the case. In Psychologist Dr. Lynn Johnson’s article entitled, “Fixed Or Growth Attitude”, he presents the findings of psychologist Carol Dweck, about people who have either a fixed attitude or a growth attitude regarding themselves.
The “fixed” attitude person believes that we can improve our talents but we should hide our weaknesses. That person believes that one should skip opportunities if they would expose a weakness. The “fixed” attitude makes one highly embarrassed when one is wrong.
The “growth” attitude person believes that opportunities should be seized because not only might they bring success, but they are also situations where one will grow and develop. What if they are wrong? They are curious about what they missed and what they can learn from the mistake. Failure to the “growth” person is an opportunity to learn. Growth people are eager to fail more quickly so they can learn more thoroughly..
Further in the article, Dr. Johnson refers to the findings of Professor K. Anders Ericcson, from Florida State University, who studied highly successful people in music, art, medicine, law, and sports, and is known as “The Expert on Experts.”
To almost everyone’s surprise, he found that talent didn’t make any difference. He found some talented persons went on to great success and others did not. He also learned that some persons without any measurable talent when young went on to be significant experts, champions, and top performers. The only thing that mattered was how they practiced.
Successful people tended to practice much more than those who didn’t succeed. He found, for example, that the best musicians had practiced around 10,000 hours by the time they were twenty years old. The good musicians had practiced around 2,000 hours. So successes out-practice the not-so- successful people by a five to one ratio.
Second, the successful persons were focused on deliberate practice. What that means is they sought out the best coaches and teachers and worked very hard to have the best performance possible. They work hard at improving and they enjoy seeing themselves get better.
There are many talented people who do not have the motivation or drive to develop their potential, while some, perhaps not as gifted, have a strong urge to work hard and practice their skills, despite many challenges and failures. That being said, instead of remaining stagnant, we all can develop untapped resources of potential and growth. It certainly behooves us to seek out the right mentors, coaches and teachers and find a purpose that aligns with our missions. With no stone unturned, our effort, persistence and practice may pay off in the long run.