Those who start out the smartest don't always end up so!

To paraphrase French psychologist Alfred Binet ‘You may not have started out the smartest but you could end up the smartest’

David Rigby
David Rigby - Special to Al Arabiya English
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It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest. It depends upon your Mindset. Fixed and Growth Mindsets were discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck—a simple idea that makes all the difference.

In a fixed Mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. If they have a lot, they’re all set, but if they don’t... If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. Effort is seen as fruitless if they don’t ‘get it’ then it suggests that they lack the intelligence. Challenges are avoided, as to fail suggests that they ‘lack the intelligence’ required. Getting things wrong and receiving feedback is also seen as negative if it reveals limitations.

In a growth Mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. They understand that no one has ever accomplished great things—not Mozart, Darwin, or Michael Jordan—without years of passionate practice and learning. Do people with this Mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknowable.

Virtually all great people have had these qualities. Intelligence can be developed. Challenges are embraced as it is believed that they can improve at a task. Effort therefore is seen as worthwhile path to mastery. Getting things wrong and receiving feedback is positive as it guides further improvement.

A teacher’s Mindset can influence how they perceive the performance of learners. Fixed Mindset teachers see those that struggle or fail to understand an aspect of the curriculum as not being sufficient bright or talented in the subject. Growth Mindset teachers see struggling students as a challenge, learners in need of guidance and feedback on how to improve. And of course once the fixed mindset teacher has labelled you – whether stupid or extremely bright the fixed mindset students are extremely loathe to challenge that view.

The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you commit to and accomplish the things you value.

• Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?
• Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?
• Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow?
• And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you?

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth Mindset. Scientists are learning that people have more capacity for life-long learning and brain development than they ever thought.

Personally the older I get the more new things I learn, the more new things I try.

To paraphrase French psychologist Alfred Binet “You may not have started out the smartest but you could end up the smartest”.

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