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Who wins most often: talent or effort?

The human mind is an incredible thing – in truth it is probably far more incredible than the human mind itself will ever be capable of fully understanding. By its unfathomable reasoning power, the average adult in the UK knows between 20,000 and 30,000 words; when we see an image, our brains process the whole thing in 13 milliseconds (30 times faster than we blink); and the latest research suggests that one human brain could contain all the data on the entire internet… wow!

Your brain is diabolically clever, and yet most people have developed a fixed or limiting mindset in their lives. The good news is that it is possible to change the way in which you utilise the most powerful computer on earth (the one that you just happen to carry around with you each day). While the vast majority of what goes on in our minds is unconscious, dealing with the things that keep us alive, we can proactively influence and increase the things that give us that competitive or growth edge.

This post is all about developing a growth mindset and escaping the fixed one that so often takes hold of our lives. It would be easy to think that this only happens in older age, as our physical brains (and bodies) tend to slow down. But the truth is that young children, teenagers, parents and grandparents can all choose their state of mind. The reason is that, although our attitudes and approach to life take place in our physical brain, it is more to do with ‘mental mindset’ than the zillions of little grey cells.

From fixed to growth mindset

Here is a little test to help determine where your head is at – right now. Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? After taking the test yourself, why not try it out on other members of the family – young and old?

1) Do you believe people are born with skills and abilities, or can they learn them?

2) Is it better to hide mistakes and carry on, or admit them and ask for help?

3) Would you prefer to attempt something challenging and fail, or stick to things you know you can do?

4) Which is more important in achieving success: natural ability or determination and effort?

5) Do you assume another person’s success is beyond you, or think – if they can so can I?

If your tendency is towards the first option in each of those five questions then you probably have a fixed mindset. I suspect, however, that most people will feel drawn towards the ‘idea’ of the second option – but the fear of that approach will lead them back to settling for the first position.

More and more, in studies on the science of achievement, we are coming to understand that success is all to do with effort and little to do with gifts and talents people were born with or develop as they grow. The difference is always mindset. Yes, it does help if you can adopt a positive, growth approach early in life – but we are all capable of learning to think this way – whatever our age.

As regular readers will know, my passion is working with children to unlock their mental and emotional potential. But, I also know a great deal about moulding grown-ups into a growth mindset. If you would like a chat about your own approach to life, or to introduce me to others who you think might need some gentle encouragement – please get in touch and arrange a call.

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