Expanding Intelligence: the Secret to Success

A common belief is that people are born with a certain level of intelligence, or amount of “brains”, and that intelligence is what greatly affects school and life performance. Wrong.

Scientists have studied how successful people get past their not-so-successful moments, and have found that it isn’t about being smart; it is about the attitude towards learning. “I hardly ever use the word intelligence, I think of people as either wanting to learn, ambivalent about learning or rejecting learning,” says Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck says that there are two types of students. The first type she labels “helpless” because they succumb to the thought that they simply can’t do something. The students in the second group have what she refers to as a mindset of “mastery” and “growth”.

These students believe in the possibility of expanding their abilities if they put in the effort, and instead of giving up when they don’t succeed, they try new strategies.

The interesting thing about these two types of students is that, according to Dr. Dweck, they have “roughly the same natural abilities,” and in some cases, the “helpless” ones “demonstrate greater native powers.” The students that believe and are taught that intelligence is not fixed and that it can be expanded are more likely to prevail during hard times.  What exactly does this mean? To quote Henry Ford,

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

Article Source: Bain, Ken. “Flummoxed by Failure- or Focused?” The Wall Street Journal 14 July 2012: C3. Print.

Categories: School To Work Skills
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