Effort > Talent

Carol Dweck, Stanford psychology professor, ran a simple test on the effects of praise. She took 400 5th graders and gave them a simple IQ test. Afterwards, the students were praised one of two ways:

  1. “That’s a really good score. You must be smart.”
  2. “That’s a really good score. You must have worked hard.”

Then the students were asked to take another test and were given the choice between an easier version that they would “do well on,” or one that was “more difficult but presented an opportunity to learn.”

It turns out, 67% of the students praised for their intelligence chose the easier test while 92% of those praised for their effort chose the more difficult one.

The difference in praise is subtle. But this shows that talent doesn’t scale. Talent is something your born with. And you either have it or you don’t. But effort, on the other hand, is a skill. One that anyone of us can learn.

It’s effort that drives us to go deeper into the science. It’s effort that gets us to make better art. When we as a culture acknowledge someone for their efforts, they might just get hooked. Which leads to passion. And the world will always need more people with passion—those who care enough to change it and make it a better place.