Have you ever wondered why? I have for a long time now.
Well, I recently came across an article which gave some very interesting insight on the matter. In the article, Joy suggests that parents should not reward their children by complimenting their intelligence. Instead, parents should compliment the amount of hard work and effort that their children put in. The reason for this is as follows:
If you think your raw intelligence is something you’re born with, then you will rely on it. When that happens, you expect to “get it” easily and then you don’t “work for it.” If you fail to develop the habit of hard work in developing your intelligence, then your accomplishments will be severely diminished.
This actually makes a lot of sense when I think about it. My parents always told me that I was very smart and that I would be successful in life. They told me that I was even smarter than my brother, and that I would be more successful than him.
Then why aren’t I? Is it because I lack the confidence in myself? Yes, partially. But I think that’s more of a symptom rather than the root cause. As it turns out, I’m finding that success is defined more by work ethic rather than intelligence. I believe that if I had a better work ethic, I would have accomplished more in my life, causing me to be more confident in myself. And with my increased confidence, I would build my work ethic even further. I believe that these two build each other up in a cyclical fashion, similar to the chicken and the egg conundrum.
Thinking back, my parents never complimented me on how much I worked or how hard I tried. Not that I blame them or anything, because I realize that they did their best to raise me. More importantly, I realize that it was my own responsibility to work hard. But still, I find it fascinating reflecting on my work ethic throughout my life.
As a naturally smart student, I relied heavily on my intelligence throughout my entire school career. Sure, I eventually had to put in more and more effort as I got into high school and college. However, I never really had to “work hard”. While other students would study for days or even weeks for their exams, I would study mere hours. I didn’t get the best grades in my classes, but I did do well enough to get a satisfactory grade. Enough to just get by.
And that’s all I pretty much do: work hard enough to just get by. But when I don’t have teachers or a a boss to tell me what to do, what does it mean to “get by”? I don’t have upper management giving me tasks and deadlines, so I really have … nothing. Nothing to do to get by.
What’s left then? I assume it’s what I quit my job for: to do what I want to do, i.e., to become an entrepreneur and start my own business. And what does one need to do to become a successful entrepreneur? Work hard. And therein lies the rub.
So what lesson can I take from this? Well, I obviously need to build up my work ethic. I didn’t train my work ethic properly while growing up, so now I need to make up for it by power-leveling it for a few years (hopefully months). It’s going to be a tough ride, and I’m excited to take on this challenge.