In today’s society, the ‘best of the best’ succeed and everyone else falls beneath them in the order of who has the most talent. Inevitably and unfortunately, talent often trumps hard work in real world circumstances.
The ever knowledgeable Google defines “talent” as the natural aptitude or skill of a person and “hard working” as a person who spends a great deal of effort or endurance in order to achieve a specific goal.
Carol Dweck, Stanford Psychologist, popularized the idea of two different “mindsets” that outline how we view ourselves and our physical/mental abilities. Dweck uses the term “fixed mindset” to define someone who believes that their intelligence, creativity, physical capability, and success are solely reliant on their natural ability. Contrary to fixed mindset, Dweck uses the term “growth mindset” to describe someone who understands that they may not be the most talented or smartest but wishes to grow in order to better him/herself.
The greatest difference between these two mindsets is the way that they each view failure. People that have a fixed mindset view failure as a denoting deficit. People with this kind of mindset will do whatever it takes to make sure they always succeed by staying within their comfort zones and never attempting a harder task in fear that they might fail.
On the flip side, people that obtain a growth mindset view failure with a view very similar to that of the one and only Mythbusters– a popular tv show in which various “myths” are tested; the mythbusters believe that failure is always an option. A growth mindset is viewing challenges as just that, a challenge. But instead of shying away from the obstacle in fear of failing, people with a growth mindset will attempt the challenge anyway knowing that they will learn something whether they fail or succeed.
“I came across this lesson plan on growth mindset when I was a first year teacher, and I myself was really struggling with not doing as well as I wanted to. It helped me overcome some of my obstacles to know that even though it was hard, [challenges in teaching was] something I could overcome with practice. I want to help share that with my students because I do think that it affects their lives inside and outside of the classroom,” said Katherine Meeks, Leesville art teacher.
In recent studies– after Dweck published her book– researchers discovered the different effects of mindsets in the classroom, work field, and sports world. Students/ workers/ athletes that initially were less talented but retained a growth mindset ultimately ended up surpassing those who were initially more talented but had a fixed mindset.
Instilling hard work ethic into children at a young age is important for guiding them on their road to success. Even if a child is talented or smart, he or she still needs to be taught that they should work hard and continue to develop their talents in order to better themselves in the future.
Working hard and always having growth as the ultimate goal is the most beneficial approach when it comes to school work, sports and other hobbies, especially during our years in education. The point of school is for students to leave their years in education knowing far more than they did when they entered the school system.
“Mrs. Meeks teaches about growth mindset at the beginning of the year and it has helped me so much in all of my classes, not just art. I am not in any way an artist, but with a growth mindset I can learn and grow as a person,” said Casey Campbell, Leesville senior and art student.
While hard work is said to be a more valuable characteristic, talent– more often than not– is viewed with greater importance than a satisfactory work ethic.
When multiple people apply for the same job, the company isn’t going to hire the person that works the hardest (unless they are also talented); they are going to hire the most qualified person who is the best at what they do in order to get the job done. While this may be the case for the “life after college” world, up until students graduate as seniors from the university of our choice, it’s more important to be hardworking than ‘smart’ or ‘talented’.
Believing you are the best and most talented person isn’t going to help you to achieve the goals you strive for in life. People who already think that their abilities are set in stone are less likely to attempt to progress at what they do because they believe there is no more they could learn or that they don’t need to work as hard. At the same time a person cannot simply force a growth mindset onto someone else– it has to be an internal desire for learning and achievement. That being said, mindsets and work ethic can evolve.
“I’ve noticed that students who don’t consider themselves artists and feel like they can’t do things transform to people who know that taking on challenges makes them better. By the end of the semester they consider themselves artists,” said Meeks.
While it is beneficial to be good at the career you pursue in order to rise to the top and make an income that supports the lifestyle you live, many of the adults in our world didn’t achieve higher positions without working countless hours. Some of the most successful people in today’s world started from the bottom and worked their way to greatness.
People who are talented in a specific area are fortunate to have such a strong foundation in which they can continue to build off of. Choosing to do so is a conscious decision that is necessary to make in order to grow as a person. Hard work pays off. While the growth process may be slow at first, it will pay off in the end. Persistence and retaining a positive attitude toward learning and developing talents is the key to success.