By Lcid Crescent Fernandez
I remember reading about this study that compared kids that were given two different types of praise as they completed tasks.
In the first group, children that completed tasks were told, “Oh you’re very talented!” or “You did this? You’re so smart!”
In the other group, children that completed tasks were told, “You must have worked very hard on this.”
Both groups were then given progressively harder tasks. The first group rode the initial confidence boost to faster task completions, but found themselves unable to complete harder tasks in the next levels. The second group would fail initial approaches, but would eventually find ways to complete their tasks. In fact, the second group were able to reach task tiers that the first group could not.
What the study found is that both groups of children attached elements of their identity and self-esteem to the kind of praise they were given. This meant that if a child from the first group was given a task that they could not overpower with innate skill/talent, they would question whether they were smart or talented in the first place. Their value would be directly correlated to the result of finishing the task. Conversely, a child from the second group would measure their value based on how much work they put in in completing a task. When faced with failure, the child from this group was found to be more resilient in his self-esteem and would continue to try to complete that task.
This column, however, is not about how we will treat children to help them develop their own healthy patterns for growth in the future. This column is about you understanding that your own limitations are built by systems and structures that were created from your childhood. In understanding why and how the structure of your self-esteem was built, you can break those structures down and build better ones for your own development.
In our company, many of our team members have found themselves questioning their talent and skills when their work was not accepted at first submission. This led to them becoming demotivated and having their self-esteem lowered. I immediately understood that this was because they had always found themselves in an environment where they were viewed as above average individuals in their age bracket.
They grew up being one of the best singers, artists, speakers, and whatnot. With this innate talent, they gravitated to the conversations and environments that made them feel good. As a result, as Bane told Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, “Victory has defeated you [them].” Being constantly showered by comments about how good you are presupposes that you just showed up and beat everybody. It removes the hours, days, weeks, and months they took to become that good in the first place.
You build this image of yourself in your mind that you’re good at whatever it is that you do, good enough already because you were above average in grade school, then high school, and then college. Now, out in the real world, you’re being told that this image of you is false. You were just ahead of the curve, but the big leagues arrived to humble you. You ain’t shit anymore.
What are you going to do about it?
There are two things you should do:
- Understand that your value as a person is not attached to your success (as discussed in the study with the two groups of children)
- Feel that disappointment, rejection, and pain.
You have to bathe yourself in these emotions. They feel cold to the touch right now, but that’s because they’re new. You have to learn to take these things, understand them, and then let them flow through you. Then they’ll never be able to hurt you.
Teach yourself to endure.
Teach yourself to withstand.
Teach yourself to overcome.
If you teach yourself to run from the rejection and the embarrassment, you’ll find yourself in a cycle of frustration. The world is full of people who will tell you you’re not good enough. Are you just going to constantly seek environments where people will tell you you’re good at what you do or will you choose to overcome these emotions and grow?
Take the hit. Get up. Get better.
Build a better image of yourself: a person that has the mental fortitude and humility to take what the world gives them, and then use it to grow.
It’s all about mindset; How you talk to and view yourself in your journey to be a better you. Every monday, we’re going to talk about getting better.