November 2, 2008

Belief about what you can achieve

I found a quote in the book I mentioned yesterday that describes the growth mindset. Looking at the index of the book I saw it did not mention Carol Dweck nor the concept of the growth mindset, which I find surprising. After all, the product description says: "Now Colvin has expanded his article with much more scientific background". Well, Carol Dweck's mindset concept is one of the best researched and most useful ideas in this field; how could you miss it? Anyway, I assume the author meant well. And the quote is interesting; here it is:
Do you believe that if you do the work, properly designed, with intense focus for hours a day and years on end, your performance will grow dramatically better and eventually reach the highest levels? If you believe that, then there's at least a chance you will do the work and achieve great performance. But if you believe that your performance is forever limited by your lack of a specific gift, or by a lack of general abilities at a level that you think must be necessary, then there's no chance at all that you will do the work. That's why this believe is tragically constraining. Everyone who has achieved exceptional performance has encountered terrible difficulties along the way. There are no exceptions. If you believe that doing the right kind of work can overcome the problems, then you have at least a chance of moving on to ever better performance. But those who see the setbacks as evidence that they lack the necessary gift will give up - quite logically, in the light of their believes. They will never achieve what they might have. What you really believe about the source of great performance thus becomes the foundation of all you ever will achieve. ... The evidence offers no easy assurances. It shows that the price of top-level achievement is extraordinarily high. Perhaps it is inevitable that not many people will choose to pay it. But the evidence also shows that by understanding how a few become great, anyone can become better.

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