As a movie junkie, many of my favorites relate to motivation. Who doesn’t cheer when Frodo and Sam destroy the ring, when Andy Dufresne crawls to freedom or when Rudy is carried off the football field? Here’s a quick glimpse of some of these classics.
Movies inspire us, but what happens when we turn off the television? How do we motivate ourselves to pick up our textbooks, get off Facebook and finish that final paper? This week we will examine four myths about motivation. Whether you know it or not, you already have theories about motivation, and they shape and guide not only your output, but also the outcome. It’s time to examine these beliefs to assess their accuracy.
Myth #1: Intelligence is fixed.
How do you define intelligence? Is it innate or is it affiliated with effort? Researchers suggest that your answer makes all the difference.
Option One – Entity Intelligence: If you think intelligence is a fixed entity, you attribute your success to your ability. Unfortunately the same is true for your failure, and since this isn’t changeable, you are likely to feel helpless. Mistakes induce paralysis. Over time, everything may become a test to prove your ability. If you have the innate ability, everything comes easily. Yet at some point you will likely begin to avoid challenging experience, self-select yourself out of careers or decline a leadership opportunity because you fear that you will fail and have to cope with the harsh reality that you are not intelligent – at least not by your definition.
Option Two – Incremental Intelligence: As an alternative, if you think it intelligence is malleable and connected to your effort, you are likely to feel a greater sense of control. You will not fear mistakes because they are not affiliated with your inherent ability, rather they simply provide valuable feedback about the strategies you are using. Not only will you use this information to improve your performance, but you will seek it out to regulate your response. Gone are the days of dreading your performance appraisal, faculty feedback, or self-criticism.
In short, incremental learners often outperform entity ones, even if they score lower on IQ tests. Your genetic ability establishes a range for your performance, but your environment and effort often determine where you fall on that range. When it comes to intelligence, perception is often reality.
Looking for examples of incremental theorists? View the video below for proof that failure is an attitude, not an event.