How to be a GENIUS - The ‘Growth Mindset!!’

There are very few people who realize that intelligence can actually be developed. This mindset is called the growth mindset. Imagine what ingredients would druid Getafix from the Asterix Comics series add to his magic potion of genius. I bet the first thing he would add would be the ‘extract of correctly oriented effort,’ the next thing would be the ‘juice of relentless learning’ the third would be some good old ‘sun dried dedication’ and the last would be ‘powdered consistent practice.’ Carol S. Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University who earned her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1972 and has accomplished extensive work in the fields of mindset, motivation, personality and development.

Time and again she has brought forward the fact that, ‘The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.’ She goes on to explain, ‘If, like those with the growth mindset, you believe that you can develop yourself, then you’re open to accurate information about your current abilities, even if it is unflattering. What’s more, if you’re oriented toward learning, as they are, you need accurate information about your current abilities in order to learn effectively.’

Carol describes how anyone can improve upon their currently possessed quantum of intelligence by applying a different mindset, the ‘growth mindset,’ wherein we should preserve our zeal and enthusiasm to learn and improve even in the worst phases of life. With the help of this mindset we can rescue ourselves from the worst of predicaments.

Do you think that anyone can improve upon their currently possessed quantum of intelligence?

We all have a skill set and a stock of capabilities granted to us. But as we start believing that genius is only the property of just a select few, we start ignoring our own skills and do not find the motivation or the desire to improve upon them whereas when we start believing that it’s an open field and that anyone who uses the right mindset and correctly oriented effort, plus relentless learning and dedication, can come to possess genius ,we start getting closer to it.

Joshua Waitzkin knows more about this than most. He is the only person to have won the National Primary, Elementary, Junior High School, High School, U.S. Cadet, and U.S. Junior Closed chess championships. His life inspired the making of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. When he was 11 years old he played a game to draw with the World Champion and the Chess Grandmaster Gary Kasparov, in a game that Gary played with 59 participants simultaneously. At age 16 he had earned the title of chess International Master.

Being a follower of the growth mindset frame of mind he never stopped to learn. As he turned 21 he took a completely different challenge of mastering a different sport altogether, T’ai chi ch’uan. Today he holds several US medals including 2004 world championship title in the sport of T’ai chi ch’uan.

He believes, ‘The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity’ and that ‘The truth is that throughout my careers in both chess and the martial arts, I often knew that my rivals were more naturally gifted than me – either with their mental machines or their bodies. But I have believed in my training, my approach to learning, and my ability to rise to the challenge under pressure.’ If we realize how to grow and succeed through the growth mindset, we can apply this learning to other areas of life and can succeed even in the worst of circumstance and become a highly accomplished individual.