Forget the beauty versus brains argument when talking about what determines success, because it turns out neither is right! All these years we have been fighting over which one is more likely to get you places, all the while people of vastly different looks and levels of intelligence have been successfully following their dreams and kicking goals. And now we know how! Research is now showing that the single most accurate predictor of success in life is neither beauty nor brains, but ‘grit’. (Duckworth , Peterson, Matthews, & Kelley, 2007)
Let’s start from the beginning: growing up we were usually told that if we get good grades we would be successful in life. Too bad if maths wasn’t your forte or if science made you squirm. If you didn’t get it then you had better sign yourself up for an average life. Sound familiar?
Well, what if your school grades were only a drop in the ocean of the potential you hold as an individual? The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is often used as a measure of intellectual aptitude, and while IQ may indicate how quickly someone is able to learn and apply knowledge, it does a very poor job at predicting the long-term success of that person. This is because academic ability is only one part of the equation which calculates success.
It turns out that IQ is nothing without perseverance and dedication to long-term goals, the personality trait known as ‘grit’. When refining the common traits of the of students at the top universities in America, military cadets and even young participants in spelling bees, the presence of the ‘grit’ personality trait amongst these people positively predicted their success in life (Duckworth , Peterson, Matthews, & Kelley, 2007). After 10 years of interviewing some of the most successful people in the world including Bill Gates and four Nobel Prize winners, race car drivers and artists, writer and researcher Richard St John boiled down the 8 traits which were common amongst these high achievers which were: Passion, work, focus, consistent personal development, giving to others, new ideas and persistence and drive (St John). It was once thought that when it came to brains, you got what you were given, and intelligence and capacity to learn were fixed. Modern research now shows us that the brain can be trained to be better – you just have to do the work (Nicole, DeBarger, Dornsife, Rosier, & Yarnell, 2013).
This means that the only thing that’s really getting in your way of that win is your belief in your ability to get there. It sounds pretty simple, but you are really only as intelligent as you let yourself be! This is what has been termed as the ‘growth’ mindset. Put simply, the greatest predictor of success is dedication and hard work not genetic ability or luck. It’s also knowing that failure isn’t permanent and embracing it as a necessary part of learning and personal development.
So how does your thought pattern turn into a mindset for success? Think of a thought as a trickle of water running down a rock. If it happens just once you will never see that drop again, but if more and more water follows the path of that first drop, in time, the water will carve a new direction for the water to run in. The same goes for our thoughts around reaching your goals. If you are clear on the new direction you want to take, make up some positive affirmations to repeat and visualise yourself as being successful you are taking the first step to making those dreams a reality.
It’s important to remember that it’s not only thoughts and mindset – that’s just the first part. Planning, action, consistency, time and determination are what need to be combined with your new growth mindset to guarantee you will be successful. What’s also important is surrounding yourself with people of a similar attitude who truly want to see you succeed – your team. These sorts of changes won’t happen in a day but are part of the whole process of developing your grit and growth mind.
“What’s also important is surrounding yourself with people of a similar attitude who truly want to see you succeed – your team.”
Once you get started, it’s exciting to think of all the things you could achieve simply by beginning to practice the growth mindset. If you tell yourself you can’t and resign yourself to average, then you won’t get anywhere near reaching your potential. By switching that ‘stuck’ mindset for the growth one means you are halfway there already! So what are you waiting for? Write down those goals, make a plan and go for growth – mind and muscles!
6 ways to Create a Growth Mindset
- Invite constructive criticism into your life. Feedback can be a bitter pill to swallow at times, but when you start looking at it as a chance to get better, failure goes from being devastating to being a learning experience.
- Stop believing in luck and start creating opportunities. You may not know where to start on your goals list but with the wealth of information available to us on the internet these days, a few hours of research can give you some ideas on who you can talk to and where you need to be.
- Avoid comparing yourself to those around you and run your own race. Everyone is on their own unique journey and you don’t know where they have been, so there is no use in comparing yourself. Do you and do it well, then there will be no need for jealousy or envy.
- Write down your goals and break them down. You can start with your 5 years goal, then your 1 year goal, your 6 month goal and your one month goal. Be as specific as you can, set time frames and identify what barriers might be in your way, so you can figure out the best way to tackle them.
- Lose the belief that you are not smart enough! You can to whatever you put your mind to, you just have to commit and plan out how you go about doing it. The growth mindset is believing in your ability to learn
Do what you love and do it with passion. It may not be your full time job but that doesn’t mean you can’t make whatever your thing is a big part of your life. Grit is all about being passionate about your goal enough that you keep going even if you fall short a few times.
Remember that talent will get you started, but hard work is required to make sure that talent doesn’t go to waste. You may not be the best right now, but you never will be if you quit.