Helpless or Master

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration"
                                                                                     — Thomas Edison

I have often written about how the lessons and factors affecting us as children seem to strangely enough, also impact us in similar ways as adults. I find that I will see something at work and then go home, only to see a modified version of it at home. One of the most recent experiences in this realm I’ve had relates to a Scientific American article,  The Secret to Raising Smart Kids. In it, the author writes that there are two types of mindsets they see in children: fixed & growth (or helpless vs mastery). In the former, children view their success as being reliant on their inherent abilities which are fixed. In the latter, they view their success as being driven by effort and that any setback can be remedied over time by additional effort.

This distinction is also critical regarding successful entrepreneurs and those pulled under in the Darwinian tech eco-system. This has implications on how one views & motivates employees as well as how one views themselves. I won’t do the article justice summarizing it here, but highly recommend it as a read both as a parent and an entrepreneur.

"A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed
his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over
why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a
special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost
interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a
consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their
son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their
attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from
several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and
                    — Carol Dweck, The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

2 thoughts on “Helpless or Master

  1. I’m not completely sure what kind of parallels you intended to draw, but it sounds a lot like something which really bugged me in my days as a corporate employee. Namely, that certain managers treated their employees almost as if they were children and the manager was the parent. It’s very demeaning, and I saw it so often that I can’t help but conclude it’s commonplace.

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