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Effort Is More Important Than Talent in Attaining Success, Experts Find
PHOTO BY @LightFieldStudios/iStock
  • One of the greatest joys of being a parent is seeing your children grow up and become their own person right before your eyes. By spending time with them, letting them explore, and through observation, we are able to help our children discover their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and nurture their talents.

    As a result of this nurturing, and through our encouragement, our kids become aware and develop a belief that they are good at singing, or dancing, better than those who do not have the "talent." However, a study shows that, in fact, all children are natural musicians. Or, as music education professor Steven M. Demorest puts it, "every child has a musical ability that can be developed into a satisfying and lifelong relationship with music."

    In his article on Time, Professor Demorest talks about the concept of talent and how ironically, it can be counter-intuitive. Talent contests, for example, promote "the notion that singing is a rare ability reserved for the talented few, and that those without such talent entertain us only by being ridiculed and weeded out," he wrote, when, in fact, the opposite is true.

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    Carol Dweck, Ph.D., author of Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, says that a person's success or failure depends heavily on his mindset, and this applies in anything he does, whether it be in school, at work, or pursuing personal interests. A person with a "fixed mindset" believes that his success lies in his natural, God-given talents, whereas someone with a "growth mindset" is convinced that through effort, he can get better at something.

    An article on Independent further illustrates this point:

    "Think how often you hear people (particularly youngsters) saying: 'I lack the brain for numbers,' or 'I don't have the coordination for sports.' These are direct manifestations of the fixed mindset, and they destroy motivation.

    Those with a growth mindset, on the other hand, do not regard their abilities as set in genetic stone. These are the people who approach tasks with gusto. 'I may not be good at maths now, but if I work hard, I will be really good in the future!'"

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    That said, when it comes to our children, whether one is "born with talent" shouldn't matter as much as being willing to work on that talent. Yes, putting in time and effort into something will eventually put one at par with those who have the innate ability.

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    How to develop a growth mindset in kids

    Mindset is bigger than just a piece of thought you teach your child; it is a way of life. Start shaping your child's future by developing a growth mindset at an early age with these tips.

    1. Remind your child that the process is more important than the result.

    When our kids are trying to achieve a goal, sometimes we parents are so focused on the end result that we fail to see the effort behind it. In school, for example, your kids must be made aware that while high grades and honors are commendable, they are exerting effort to learn and improve is a reward in itself. By praising effort rather than ability, you are giving kids motivation, while emphasizing that it's okay to make mistakes.

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    2. Let go of labels.

    ...and stereotypes, too. Let your son join a dance group, and encourage your daughter to excel in Math. Talent knows no gender, age, or race.

    3. Change your own mindset.

    If owing to the way you were raised by your parents, you realize that you may have grown up with a fixed mindset, know that you can change it and influence your kids positively. The people we look up to in sports and in the arts did not achieve their outstanding status overnight; they put in the hours and failed along the way for sure before they became who they are today. If there's one lesson your children should learn, it is to keep striving, and eventually, they'll get there.

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