You cannot predict how smart or skilled a person can be.

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, psychologist Carol Dweck wrote,

“Benjamin Bloom, an eminent educational researcher studied 120 outstanding achievers. They were conert pianists, sculptors, Olympic swimmers, world-class tennis players, mathematicians, and research neurologists.

Most were not that remarkable as children and didn’t show clear talent before their training begain in earnest. Even by early adolescence, you usually couldn’t predict their future accomplishment from their current ability. Only their continued motivation and commitment, along with their network of support, took them to the top.

Bloom concludes, “After forty years of intensive research on school learning in the US as well as a broad, my major conclusion is: What any person in the world can learn, almost all person can learn, if provided with the appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.“”

And in connection with this, do you know that Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss (author of many children’s books like The Lorax) was voted by his classmates as the “person least likely to succeed” among their class? Because he was never the studious type. He would rather watch a movie, go to the zoo, or just draw. (Basically, he followed his interests and hobbies.) And this is why using a compass (with your interests and hobbies leading the way) is important instead of a map.

Also, this proves that you can’t predict what a person may become in the future. Aside from “not to be judgemental to anyone” message of this post, having the knowledge that you cannot predict anyone’s future, is good for ourselves.

We do not know what will happen and that thought alone is exciting! We may have mediocre work right now but given enough time, we may produce something great occasionally. But ultimately, its all about just loving what you do and being excited to where it just takes you. So just start. It doesn’t matter if you failed, what is important is you had fun doing it. As author Srivinas Rao wrote in The Art of Being Unmistakable, “We often do not know where stories end, where unpaved roads lead, and who we’ll become along the way. Therefore, you just have to start.”

How Our Brain Works When We Are Confronted With Challenges

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck shared that students who were given awareness of how the brain works performed better academically and in other areas of their lives.

Carol Dweck and her team conduct mindset workshops on how the brain works and one of the things they say in those workshops is this passage:

“Many people think of the brain as a mystery. They don’t know how much about intelligence and how it works. When they do think about what intelligence is, many people believe that a person is born either smart, average, or dumb- and that stays that way for life. But new research shows that the brain is more like a muscle- it changes and gets stronger when you use it. And scientists have been able to show just how the brain grows and gets stronger when you learn.

When you learn new things, these tiny connections in the brain actually multiply and get stronger. The more that you challenge your mind to learn, the more your brain cells grow. Then, things that you once found very hard or even impossible- like speaking a foreign language or doing algebra- seem to become easy. The result is a stronger, smarter brain.” -from the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Lastly, author Carol Dweck wrote questions in the book that we can ask ourselves to get started on learning something new:

  1. What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself? For the people around me?
  2. When, where, and how will I embark on my plan?
  3. When, where, and how will I act out on my new plan?
  4. What do I have to do to maintain and continue the growth?

For more research studies related to our brains and psychology in general, I recommend Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by  Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann, and Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.