Unlocking Your Full Potential

Emily Kim Emily Kim Instagram Apr 30, 2020 · 4 mins read
Unlocking Your Full Potential
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Recently, I picked up the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and became obsessed. While I run the risk of being melodramatic, I must say that this book has offered me a new perspective on life and a solution to a problem that I once thought unsolvable. Now, before I go into any further details, I want to ask you, the reader, a question. Do you think that intelligence is something you are born with or something you can develop?

 Before reading this book I always believed that intelligence, among other attributes, was a fixed value that couldn’t be altered. I believed that while hard work could allow you to accomplish more, it wouldn’t change your inherent aptitude for something. For example, when I would do poorly on a math or science test (and trust me this happened far too often), I would tell myself that “science just wasn’t my thing.” The problem with this mentality is that it didn't allow room for growth. In my head, it felt irrational and too challenging to constantly put more effort into science. Sure, I could study a week in advance for every science test, but what was the point? I didn’t want to keep putting my blood, sweat and tears into science just to stay on par with the rest of my marks, or peers (who I believed had natural aptitudes for science). What I didn’t understand though, is that nobody can sustainably excel at something without putting work in. Intelligence and skills can be cultivated in almost every facet of your life. Personality, intelligence, athletic ability, social skills etc. can all be developed, over time, through hard work, good strategies and input from others.

 By viewing our attributes, and others', as fixed values, we are forced to place our self-esteem on our natural abilities alone. So, when faced with failure, we are devastated as we believe that we will never overcome them fully. Conversely, with a growth mindset, you spend less time worrying about how talented or "good" at something you are and focus instead on learning and growing your abilities. Often, when faced with criticism or failure, we retract into feelings of insecurity and defensiveness, which directly inhibits our growth and opportunity to learn from our mistakes. People are born with an inherent love for learning, but a fixed mindset, derived from society's institutionalized habit of praising natural ability, ruins this. We live in a world where we believe people are either innately superior or inferior and, therefore, we stick to easy tasks that we excel in, to repeatedly affirm our feelings of superiority, while simultaneously avoiding things that expose our inferiority. We sweep under the rug, the parts of our life that need the most nurturing and attention, leaving them more neglected and weak than ever before. With this behaviour, we slam the door on any chance of genuine improvement and growth by letting our conquerable weaknesses constantly hold us back from our true potential.

For this new year, I urge you to reignite your passion for learning by letting go of your fear of failure through the belief that skills and ability can be grown and cultivated. Unfortunately, I can't get into all the nitty-gritty details about what a growth mindset is and how to achieve it (it’ll take up the entire Beacon), so I strongly urge you to read Dr. Dweck's book.

It’s important to note though that real change and improvement will take commitment and patience. You can’t expect to immediately flourish at something you are weak in, just by suddenly putting more effort in. It will take dedication and time to hone your skills and help them develop to the standard at which you want them. The main idea is to not get discouraged. When I first took on this mindset, believe it or not, I performed worse than I usually do. But instead of giving up, I pressed on and used my low marks to determine my mistakes and how to better prepare in the future.

If you are reading this and somehow haven’t gotten bored from my rambling, I sincerely hope that you are motivated and interested in taking up this new attitude and perspective on life. Our world needs more growth-minded people than ever before, as we live in a world with infinite possibilities and challenges that can only be overcome by those most willing to try. As I wrap this up, I'll leave you with one last piece of advice: NEVER - especially in the face of adversity - fixate on your present ability, but instead on your potential, what is possible and what you can become.

Image Source: "Mindset" by davis.steve32 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Emily Kim
Written by Emily Kim Instagram
Former Editor-in-Chief