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Realizing Your Potential to Achieve Success

by Beth on February 15th, 2024

Adam Grant wants us to redefine success as how far we’ve come rather than how well we are doing in comparison to others. “The true measure of success is not the height if the peak you’ve reached, but how far you’ve climbed to get there.” He also wants us to place less value on innate ability and to celebrate learning instead. We can all work to become better. Amen to both!

Yet both suggestions are easier said than done. Social comparison is a natural human tendency and learning is hard! First, we need to make intentional efforts to remind ourselves what our ability level was in the past, so we can appreciate what we have achieved. We also need to make the pursuit of mastery a little easier. Grant provides several suggestions for this in his book Hidden Potential:

1) Embrace discomfort – We learn by challenging ourselves and this requires doing things outside our comfort zone. Struggling to learn a foreign language is a great example. When I was learning Spanish, I was so embarrassed by how poorly I spoke. But I knew the only way to get better was to keep speaking it despite how uncomfortable I felt.

2) Have fun – Another key to building skills is to have fun. Deliberate play is a way to structure learning so that it’s enjoyable. You can add variety by changing up the routine or turn learning into a game. When you make learning fun, you are more likely to stick with it.

3) Reject perfectionism – Perfectionists obsess about details that don’t matter, avoid challenges that might lead to failure, and berate themselves for mistakes. All three of these are major impediments to learning. We do much better when we strive for progress rather than perfection, understanding that mistakes are the path to growth.

4) Ask for and give advice – Feedback is focused on what you did right or wrong in the past. Advice focuses on what you can do better in the future so you can improve. Giving advice to others can also help you. We tend to give people advice that we could also use. Grant cites a study where high school students who gave advice to younger students earned better grades themselves.

You have the potential to achieve your goals. Celebrate the progress you’ve already made and keep learning!

  1. Another home run on well-being by Dr Beth Cabrera!

  2. Beth permalink

    Thanks for reading!

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