Why talent is not sufficient for success

February 9, 2011 Katharina Lochner

over promotion vs competencies

The role of one’s mindset in success

When companies hire employees with great abilities or sports clubs recruit the most talented players, they have great expectations. However, not every great catch excels. Some show a surprisingly poor performance. What is the reason for this difference?

Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck sees the reason in different mindsets. A mindset is a belief you have considering the nature of intelligence and personality. She distinguishes the fixed mindset, in which people believe that their qualities are given and cannot be changed much, from the growth mindset, in which people believe that they can cultivate their qualities through effort.

According to professor Dweck, people with the fixed mindset try to prove their talent over and over again and therefore avoid challenging tasks because they could fail. And failure would mean that they are not as talented as they thought. People with the growth mindset, however, see challenges as learning opportunities to learn and even see failure as a growth opportunity.

Her book is called “Mindset” and can be found here. There is also a website on which there is further information on her concept of mindsets, and on which you can test your own mindset: Mindset homepage

Mindsets are, according to Professor Dweck, not inborn, but rather learned. The implication is that parents can teach their children the growth mindset by praising their efforts instead of abilities. The same applies to employers: They can cultivate the growth mindset in their employees by encouraging and praising effort rather than pure talent.

About the Author

Katharina Lochner

Dr Katharina Lochner is the former research director for the cut-e Group which was acquired by Aon in 2017. Katharina is now a researcher and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Europe in Iserlohn, Germany. In her role at cut-e, she applied the research in organizational and work psychology to real-world assessment practice. She has a strong expertise in the construction and evaluation of online psychometric tools.

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