The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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The myth of genius and the fallacy of hard worker

April 29th, 2011 by dimpledbrain

There is a compulsive preoccupation among students or undergraduates with the notion that real geniuses don’t have to study much and will still emerge top of the class. And then this prophecy is somehow fulfilled by ‘geniuses’ who prove to their peers that they don’t spend much time studying, after all. From my crude observation, ‘smart’ students are perceived to spend less time studying vs their ‘hardworking’ peers who have to put in more hours only to find their GPA at best on par with the born smart group.

Why does this happen?

Dweck proposed 2 types of views on ability or intelligence:

  • Entity view – intelligence is fixed no matter what you do. Either you are born a genius or a doomed low performer.
  • Incremental view – intelligence or ability can be acquired through effort. Usually this group gains more satisfaction from the process than the outcome itself. All real geniuses and hard workers belong to this group.

Do we hold an entity view or an incremental view on our ability and intelligence? (Answer: We should have an incremental view)

p/s: Geniuses who find themselves sailing through effortlessly are sadly in the wrong league. They should have taken up something challenging enough to stretch their own capabilities. Hard workers who always end up hitting a brick wall are obviously not doing things the right way. Just because I put in more hours hitting the tennis ball the same way I am hitting it now doesn’t mean I am able to defeat Roger Federer.

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