If you have taken one of my courses, you have probably heard me talk about Scholarly Grit. Scholarly grit is my name for what researchers have recently found are the three most important characteristics of highly successful people. They:
1. Have a mature conception of learning
2. Engage in deliberate practice
3. Are optimistic
Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, found that people vary in their beliefs of what it takes to succeed. Some think their success is limited to what their in born abilities or talents will allow. These folks have a naive conception of learning, or what Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. Others believe they will succeed as long as they proactively seek new learning opportunities, work hard, and stick to their goals. These folks have a mature conception of learning, or a growth mindset. Research shows that people with a growth mindset are much more likely to accomplish their long-term goals and achieve success.
Think about what this means to you as a student. When you are faced with a challenging problem, project, or course, how do you respond? Do you ever get discouraged and feeling like you will never understand the stuff you’re being asked to master? Or, do you say to yourself, “Hey, self, engineering is hard. It’s not surprising that I can’t master this stuff right away. That’s OK, I know I will get it if I just keep working at it”. Hopefully the latter, because that is the attitude of someone with a growth mindset. Students with a growth mindset know they will master the concepts or skills they are struggling to understand, as long as they seek help, stay patient, and stick to it no matter what.
The truth is, more than just a growth mindset is needed to ensure success. It is necessary, but not sufficient. Next time, I will introduce you to the second secret ingredient of success: deliberate practice.
Meanwhile, I highly recommend you watch Carol Dweck’s Ted Talk: