In the TED talk video, Angela Lee Duckworth digs deeper into what is the key to success. Many would have guessed that it is talent, ability or IQ that enables one to achieve success in a school or even work setting. In her research work as a psychologist, Duckworth is surprised to find out that it is the passion and perseverance of having a long term goal, or what she terms as, grit. However, when asked by parents and teachers how one can instill grit into their children, Duckworth expresses uncertainty due to the lack of in-depth research into this topic. Nevertheless, she elaborates an idea developed at Stanford University of “growth mindset”. Such a mindset is one that an individual has when he believes his level of success is dependent on the amount of effort he puts in. This results in a higher level of achievement and a greater sense of free will. The growth mindset is in opposition to a fixed one where the learning of an individual is constrained by his belief of the attributes he already has to be successful. Such a fixed mindset will only result in the individual’s learning plateauing earlier and therefore, reaching less than his full potential. 

Past Cases

Thomas Edison, the inventor of some of the most world-changing devices like the electrical lamp and the movie camera, was once told as a child by his teachers that he was “too stupid to learn anything”. Today, most childhoods would not be the same without Walt Disney, who was once fired by a newspaper editor as he had “lacked imagination and have no good ideas”. Even the late modern day entrepreneur, Steve Jobs got booted from the very own company he started! These well-known persons have strived and through sheer grit, have made a name for themselves in their industry and in history. Had they pursued a fixed mindset or have given up halfway, the devices and entertainment we have come to know and love would not have been possible.

How can it apply to you?

The view that you adopt for yourself profoundly affects your life. Sure, you may not be the next Thomas Edison or Walt Disney. But as a student or working adult, a small change in your mindset can allow you to fully realize your potential.  The change from that of hunger for approval to that of having a passion for learning will make you believe that things like human qualities and even relationships can be cultivated through effort and practice.

As a parent, you can cultivate a growth mindset in your children in the early stages of their lives by promoting competition with themselves instead of others. Aim to have effort-praised children instead of ability-praised ones. This will not only drive their self-motivation but also help to instill the mindset that they will adopt when met with failures or rejections at any point in their lives.