It’s Not Intelligence That Drives Success; What Gives

The truth about grit – The Boston Globe.

Science is gaining greater consensus that perseverance and focus are the keys to success.  Hurray!  After years of biased researchers claiming intelligence as the key to success, the tide appears to be turning.  By looking to intelligence, researchers justified biased notions of race (roles in society, pecking order of worth in society to name a few) with the statistical analysis of IQ test, measures of income, and crafty selection of explanatory variables.   It was 1994 and Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published The Bell Curve to ignite a firestorm.  It was 1994 and I understood, in a personal way, the worse trait in a researcher—make the analysis prove the point.

But, today’s environment seems to be shifting.  Thankfully!  Fifteen years later, the evidence is coagulating around the notion that how people deal with failure, their self esteem, and their faith that they can improve are the three crucial factors in predicting success.  The saving face (liberal ideal by some estimates) is that these ideals can be taught and reinforced.

My experience suggest that praising effort rather than outcomes—the core recommendation to establish the mindset of success—is a difficult activity.  My own socialization seems to get in the way, but it does not stop me from trying.

As I have worked with family and new found friends to encourage perseverance, to facilitate learning and experimentation, to inspire effort—it is indeed rewarding, and possible I might add, to see someone improve.   Don’t know if I’ve found my calling, but it’s a effort I enjoy making.

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