One of the main themes of this blog is learning. A lot of people, including myself, were raised with the understanding that IQ is fixed and that you do the best with what you’ve got. I didn’t realize how limiting that belief was until I discovered that it wasn’t true! More and more research is showing that we are, in fact, able to increase our intelligence.
As it turns out, one of the most helpful things you can do when trying to increase your intelligence is to simply believe that you can. One thing that I’ve observed during my career–and, I am sure is documented by many other sources–is that the people who solve the most insurmountable problems are the ones who don’t know that they are impossible. It seems that the older I get, the harder it is to not quickly dismiss something before giving it a shot. I can’t stress the importance of overcoming this “sad path.” Just try it! You may be very surprised at the result.
Another key factor is learning to embrace failure as merely another mechanism for learning. By pruning the decision trees that represent things unknown to us, we gain a much deeper understanding of whatever it is we’re seeking. In other words, to better understand what is, it is helpful to understand what is not. All those failures start to work like gutter guards (you know, those things that we use to help children learn to bowl) to keep you on a path to success.
Embracing failure as a learning opportunity is a very important part of something called a growth mindset. I first encountered the growth mindset while taking a MOOC taught by Jo Boaler, a renowned professor at Stanford, on learning and teaching math. I highly recommend her course, How to Learn Math. In the course, she talks about some of Carol Dweck’s work, which ended up being a jumping-off point for me. Also, Khan Academy, one of my favorite resources, is also endorsing the growth mindset. Check out their short video about it here.
Do yourself a favor and do a little digging for yourself. Start with the video I linked above and then maybe see what you can find out about Carol Dweck and her research. Check out Jo Boaler’s blog. Get inspired!