Tenacity is the ability to look beyond short terms goals to long term goals. Tenacity is also the ability to withstand challenges and setbacks to persevere toward these goals.
What do you think has the greatest impact on your success in exams- Intelligence or Tenacity?
Research over the last 10 years by Stanford University psychology professor Dr Carol Dweck shows its Tenacity, by far. Tenacity is a better predictor of success than IQ. And a central factor in Tenacity is your Mindset.
Mindset is all about your belief. If you've a Fixed Mindset you believe that skill is fixed and success is about proving you're smart or talented. If you have a Growth Mindset it's about stretching and learning and developing.
How can you make out who has what? It’s easy. I have been teaching for the past 21 years and students with a Fixed Mindset have some visible character traits:
They believe intelligence is fixed by genes and can’t be changed
When things get too challenging ( tough, big topics) they lose interest, because failure means you're nothing and have zero potential
It's not that they don't have confidence. They do- till something goes wrong, like a bad test or class. At which point they crumble
It’s not enough for them to succeed- they want to be flawless and flawless immediately. They can’t stand not grasping a topic on the first go
They believe that failure has been transformed from an action (I failed) to an identity (I'm a failure). If they fail an exam, they become depressed and label themselves as failures
They expect ability before learning happens. After all either you have it or you don't
They dislike working out problems, partly because they are afraid of making mistakes that will crush their confidence
To repair their self-esteem after a failure they look at other students who are worse off than them
They make excuses and assign blame. It’s never about their lack of effort but “ the exam was too tough” or “ work is hectic” or “ the material is too boring” or “ the teacher was lousy”
They don't like effort. Because it robs them of all the excuses. Without effort they can always say " I could have been______if I had tried"
Everything is about the outcome, the result, not the journey. They don’t really enjoy learning and consider it a painful chore
Effort is not a cause for pride because it's something that casts doubt on their talent
They'll study and if it's hard they read again and if they still don’t understand they may even try and memorize stuff. And if they still can’t get it they give up and conclude that Accounting/ Quants/Economics is “not their subject"
They’ll rarely ask for help from other students or trainers or try a different study strategy
If you can identify yourself with any or some of the above statements you probably have a Fixed Mindset. It’s quite common. In fact some people have a mix of both so it’s a question of which Mindset dominates- Fixed or Growth. A Fixed Mindset can destroy your dreams, irrespective of how smart or talented you are.
Then again some students have a growth mindset and work differently:
They take charge of the process
They look for themes, underlying principles, in the material
They go over mistakes and learn from them
They are self-motivated
They take responsibility for failure and instead of blaming others they look inwards
They understand that intelligence is not a fixed concept and can be developed
They focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are
And they score higher, not because they were smarter but because they worked at it
This isn't my idea. And it is not just theory. It's based on path breaking research by Dr Carol Dweck and more details can be found in her insightful and compellingly readable classic “Mindset- the psychology of success".
So what's the solution if you are an adult learner? Here are a few tips:
Accept the fact that we were not made perfect on Day # 1
Some people can do things with little or no training. This means that others can do it with MORE training
Understand how your brain works. IQ is not fixed. Just like your arm muscles get bigger when you lift weights, your brain changes and gets bigger when you make it REALLY work. This is called neuroplasticity.
Grasp the fact that hard work can beat talent
Whenever you're stuck think of occasions in the past when you've succeeded
Don't pass up a chance for learning
Don't ever feel labeled by failure
Don't ever give up when more effort is needed
Constantly work at it. Mindset change is not about picking up a few tips here and there. It's about making a radical and permanent change in the way you think about Life.
We are, most of the time, our own worst enemy. Which is perhaps a good thing because we can change.
But the change to the destructive fixed mindset isn't easy or quick; It is difficult to let go of something that’s been with you for so long and gave you self-esteem. And it's especially tough to replace that with a dramatically different mindset that embraces Challenge, Setbacks, Struggle and Criticism.
But it's worth it. Because you're learning and growing every day. And there's nothing more exciting or fulfilling in Life than realizing your potential, whether it is CFA or CMA or something else.
Binod has been teaching advanced finance and accounting courses since 1996. He quit corporate life (where he worked for firms like KPMG, Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young in Oman, Nakheel in Dubai and Gulf Finance House in Bahrain) in 2009 to help set up and run Genesis Institute. Binod says that his focus as a Trainer, Mentor and Speaker is to deliver conceptual clarity, get to the core issues, build relationships, keep things simple (and fun!) and talk of practical and effective solutions.