Being labeled talented or intelligent often makes people become more cautious. In order to grow we must continually stretch ourselves by trying things just beyond our current reach. This inevitably results in some failures along the way to new and greater heights of accomplishment. As I mentioned in part two of this series, the brain’s natural programming of loss aversion creates a situation that makes it harder for someone to risk losing what they are already said to have: In this case talent or intelligence.
As a result those who have already achieved these labels are consumed by the need to protect their image and thus often resist any new challenge where the possibility of failure exists. The net effect of this is an end to their future growth and the eventual fall from the top, as others who continue challenging themselves pass them by in a flurry.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you resist any label such as these being attached to your own personal identity. This can be done by reminding yourself that you are, and always will be, a work in progress. History is littered with ‘can’t miss’ prodigies who never reached their purported destinies. For every LeBron James there are several
As I have said numerous times before, it’s not where you start, but where you finish that matters in life. I wish more people would resist bathing in the laurels of early success and predicted stardom and put their time and effort into getting better everyday. If you just improve a little each day, soon you will have improved a lot and there’s no telling where that can take you. If you rely on your talent to get you there the ceiling is your limit, but if you rely on your mental and physical habits that enabled you to improve each day the sky truly is your limit.
As Miguel de Cervantes said, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.”
Work hard and don’t ever let anyone insult you and stunt your personal growth by labeling you talented or smart!
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