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Learn from Your Mistakes – Or Don’t

by Steven Novella, Oct 03 2011

Psychologists are discovering that attitude is often a self-fulfilling prophesy. Richard Wiseman pointed out, for example, that if you feel you are lucky you will, in fact, have more “luck.” Specifically, you will create opportunities, you will take opportunities, and you will try harder because you are optimistic about the future. You will, in essence, make your own luck.

There is no magical “secret” to this effect, and no, you cannot change the world simply by wishful thinking. But your attitude and beliefs about yourself affect how you behave, and sometimes attitudes become self-fulfilling. The general principle seems to be – that it is better to be optimistic than pessimistic.

A new study is in line with this principle. Researchers in this case focused on attitudes regarding the ability to learn from one’s mistakes. They gave subjects a simple test – identifying the letter in the middle of a five-letter sequence. This is an easy task, but when done over and over eventually people make mistakes. The research focused on how they react when such mistakes occur. Some individuals seemed to learn from their mistakes, increase their effort, and improve later performance. Others did not recover from the mistake and improve their later performance.

These behaviors correlated with the subjects’ attitudes. Those who felt they could learn from their mistakes, did. Those who felt that intelligence and performance are fixed characteristics did not improved their performance after the error. Again – these attitudes appear to be self-fulfilling.

The researchers also peeked at brain function with EEG mapping during the task. After the mistake was made, every subject had a specific spike in activity – the recognition of the error. But those who learned from their mistake had a prominent second reaction (spike in activity in a specific brain region) while those who did not learn from their mistake had less of a second reaction.

With such correlational studies it is not possible to separate out the arrow of cause and effect (which is often not clean when it comes to brain function anyway). In other words – are we seeing a difference in brain function leading to the behavior, or is the behavior learned and we are just visualizing the brain function that underlies the learned behavior? More study will need to be done to sort this out. Specifically, it would be interesting to see if people can switch into the optimistic group with a little cognitive therapy.

If we take the lesson from this and other studies – it is better to assume that people can change (a recursive self-fulfilling belief). You should be optimistic about your ability to become more optimistic.

There is an interesting tension here. The psychological literature clearly shows that people’s beliefs and behaviors are highly malleable. There are a myriad of ways that we can be psychological manipulated. And our assumptions about ourselves and the world affect our outcomes. From this perspective it is better to believe that you can achieve your goals, that effort makes a different, that you can improve yourself and correct your mistakes, and that effort is rewarded. These optimistic attitudes will motivate you to improve yourself and your life.

On the other hand, many have observed that we are currently living in the “American Idol” generation – where many people believe that they can achieve whatever they desire, even if they lack the talent or ability. This goes beyond optimism to almost a feeling of entitlement – the younger generation feels they are entitled to not only success but to excellence. The American Idol reference comes from the early parts of the season when we are treated to many contestants who are hopelessly terrible singers, but are deluded into thinking (often, it appears, with the support of parents and friends) into thinking that they are “the next American Idol.”

How do we reconcile these two apparently contradictory observations? I think, as with many things, it is all about balance. The advantages of a positive attitude are now highly documented in the research. But perhaps this positivity needs to be tempered by realism.

Further, my personal opinion is that the realism does not necessarily have to involve the ultimate limits of our ability, but the amount of work it takes to achieve. The entitlement problem is that people feel they deserve to be successful even without all the hard work. While the research shows that it is the belief that hard work can pay off that pays off.

Sure – some people have natural talents. But successful people seem to share the trait of thinking that hard work is worth it, and they achieved through hard work – even if it seems effortless.

I don’t know if anyone can become an American Idol with enough hard work, despite their starting point of natural talent. But I also don’t know that they can’t. Some psychologists who have studied this type of question have come to the conclusion that with sufficient work and effort anyone can master pretty much anything. Mastery is a matter of the 10,000 hours of practice, not inborn gifts.

The take home message is that it is better to be optimistic and to assume that hard work will be rewarded with skills and success. It is also better to focus on the process rather than the result. This all applies to critical thinking and scientific knowledge as well. We can all make the world a smarter place – if we believe we can and focus on the process of doing so.

68 Responses to “Learn from Your Mistakes – Or Don’t”

  1. BillG says:

    High self-esteem is over rated where doubt and uncertainty is perhaps a virtue – at least in high crime areas and entertainment venues.

  2. Max says:

    At least in the experiment everyone recognized their error. That’s not the case with American Idol contestants who act shocked when their lousy performance is criticized. They don’t even realize how much they suck, or they just want to get on TV.

    • Sheila says:

      And it’s definitely not the case when pseudo scientists make mistakes. They’ll never admit they are wrong, too much ego involved.

      • Phea says:


        You really should ask yourself a few questions before you post on here. First, “Does my comment have anything at all to do with the posted blog?” Second, “Is my comment actually going to add anything to the ongoing conversation?” Third, and perhaps most important, “Is my comment going to make me look like a FUNT”?
        (That’s short for Fun To be around.)

        I apologize to all except Sheila for the content of this post, but her comments are really beginning to get old.

      • Skeptic says:

        Thankyou. I hate the idea of the repression of free speech, but this is a privately owned and operated website, with a community of members united by one way of thinking. Sheila clearly does not fit, nor like the other members of the community. If it were up to me, I would ban her. Of course, if I were her, and found that going on a website made me say silly things and get unhappy, then I probably wouldn’t go on that website anymore…

      • Sheila says:

        I’m the happiest person you will ever know (and no drugs involved, lol). Can you say the same?

      • Sheila says:

        And thanks for clarifying that, skeptic. You said the skeptics are “a community of members united by one way of thinking”. Wow that is the exact opposite of what I would expect from a skepticsblog. Please explain yourself, all you group thinkers. If everyone thought group think like you guys do there would never be any progress. So does that mean there has been no progress on this blog? LOL

    • tmac57 says:

      It worked for Tiny Tim.

  3. LovleAnjel says:

    Great article, and on the surface the American Idol example seems to fit in. Problem is – all the contestants are judged (unfilmed) by a panel before being chosen to see the “real judges”. The terrible singers get to go on to the “callbacks” that are filmed and shown on TV, exactly like the great singers are (the okay singers get passed up). That sets up an expectation that they are good enough to go to Hollywood.

    This is probably done to heighten the tension and drama of the auditions. I’m betting the singers turned down by the first panel of judges are not running away screaming and crying.

    • Sheila says:

      OMG there are actually people that watch that crap? You and Max should get together and you’ll be in American Idol heaven.

      • Sheila says:

        You guys can tag team with Steven Novella who is aspiring to be on Dancing with the Stars. Did he mention he recently signed up for ballroom dancing?

      • Skeptic says:

        Problem Sheila?
        Also, Max never said he watched any great amount, or enjoyed it. I’d say the oddity would be the person who hasn’t seen American Idol. Hell, I’m Australian and I’ve been subjected to their stupid auditions.

        Whether or not Novella is ballroom dancing, and whether or not he wants to be on a Television show of questionable taste (Somehow, considering the rumour mongering fool I’m communicating with I doubt it), it’s his affair what he does with his time, whereas when you post on a website full of people both nicer and smarter than you, with the intent of irritating them, it’s all of their affair. And it makes you look like both an idiot AND an arsehole.
        Go home Sheila, you deluded bitch.

      • Sheila says:

        Up yours ya damn skeptic.

      • LovleAnjel says:

        I don’t watch Idol. I read an article by a journalist who went through the audition process.

      • Sheila says:

        Quit lying, you do watch Idol, I could see it in your previous post. Are you feeling ashamed that you waste your time like that?

      • LovleAnjel says:

        Where do you see that in my post?

      • Sheila says:

        Okay what kind of skeptic are you anyway that takes a journalist’s word as truth? Don’t skeptics do their own research anymore? Even skeptic admitted watching it, now you can come clean. Yes it’s a skeptic’s duty to look after their reputation instead of stating the truth.
        So little lovleanjel, are you going to continue to deny it just to save face?

      • LovleAnjel says:

        You’re assuming that I’m denying it out of some sense of shame. I have no shame about watching crappy TV. I watched all three seasons of Rock of Love. Twice.

      • LovleAnjel says:

        Again: where do you see that in my post? You never answered my question.

  4. WScott says:

    “…the younger generation feels they are entitled to not only success but to excellence.”
    I hear this asserted a lot, but is there any actual data to support the notion that the “these kids today” have a greater sense of entitlement than previous generations? Far be it from me to suggest that making broad generalizations based on the behavior of reality show contestants might not be the best approach.

  5. Ed Seedhouse says:

    Well, surely what we really want to be is realistic, neither a pessimist nor an optimist. I am basically pessimistic and pretending to be optimistic does not work for me. It seems to just be against my nature.

    On the other hand I have also achieved at a high level in various discipines without trying to be optimistic. Persistance is what really matters, except of course when you are persisting in something stupid.

    I find that as I expect things to go badly more often than well, I get more pleasant surprises than unpleasant ones. I think you are missing out on a dimension of human nature that is equally important, namely stability. A stable pessimist is better off than an unstable optimist, whose optimism can be shattered by events. My pessimism hasn’t prevented me from becoming a national expert in chess, for example. My laziness has probably prevented me from achieving master class, however.

    There are many dimensions to people’s emotional lives and just focussing on “optimism” or “pessimism” is oversimplifying things quite a lot. Not what I expect a real skeptic to do. I mean, show me the double blinded controlled studies you don’t mention in your blog entry.

    • Ed Seedhouse says:

      To be fair you provide a link to a study, but it says nothing about the protocols used and unless it was double blind and controlled for possible confounding variables it ain’t all that convincing.

    • Ed – in this context “optimistic” refers to the belief that efforts will pay off, and “pessimistic” to the belief that efforts are wasted because either the system is unfair, or it is not possible to improved one’s abilities.

      This has been studied quite a bit. I linked to Wiseman’s summary with respect to “luck”. I was basing the current post on the article I linked to.

      Of course people are highly complex and there are multiple variables. The point of the research is to isolate this one variable and see if it correlates with outcome, which it consistently does. I think the next step in this line of research will be to try to change people’s attitudes and then see if the correlates with an improvement in outcome.

      • Sheila says:

        If group think is your goal, who exactly wants to be part of it? Especially when you have no clue about so many things. But hey, you can always kick up your heels.

      • CJG says:

        Do your parents know you’re posting crap on here Sheila? Methinks you should be grounded for a week or two, or at least have your computer privileges taken away.

      • Sheila says:

        CJG, you are a delusional fool. But if that’s your story, you better stick to it, LOL.

      • Ed Seedhouse says:

        “Ed – in this context “optimistic” refers to the belief that efforts will pay off, and “pessimistic” to the belief that efforts are wasted because either the system is unfair, or it is not possible to improved one’s abilities.”

        But in observable fact sometimes, in fact extremely often, the system is actually unfair. For instance, in grade one I picked up reading (“Dick and Jane” – it was the 1950’s!) fast but got average marks because I read in a normal voice. Then I figured out that the ones with high marks could read no better than me, so I started putting a lot of expression in mine and immediately started getting top marks. So I learned at six that school was basically a corrupt organization and observed throughout that it continued to be corrupt in this and other ways all through grade 12. Since I was smart enough to pass without much effort anyway I didn’t bother to put that effort in since it wasn’t rewarded, and there were more interesting things to do like learning about science from Isaac Asimov! But reading Asimov didn’t help my science grades because most of the textbooks had numerous errors in them and you didn’t get marks for the right answer, you got marks for the textbook answer.

        Well, that was fifty years ago, but if you look around at what’s going on today you find that, to a large extent, for most people, hard work persistence and effort are not rewarded very much at all, whilst cheating is. So being an optimist under such circumstances is a recipe for failure, especially if you are also cursed with honesty.

    • badrescher says:

      It’s not simply about optimism and pessimism. Note that the measures (as Steve explains) are about whether or not one sees performance and ability as fixed. This is related to external and internal attributions for outcomes.

      Attributing outcomes to luck, circumstances, other people, etc. is highly correlated with narcissism (but not self-esteem after controlling for narcissism). One characteristic of highly narcissistic people is the tendency to learn little from their mistakes. The external attribution explains this inability; if you don’t think that you *can* affect the outcome (and you don’t think there’s anything inadequate about you or what you’re doing), why would you take actions to improve?

      All of this ties together nicely with a rather large sum of psychological literature.

  6. Chris Howard says:

    How difficult is it to effect neuroplasticity via behavior mod., or other techniques like CBT, and the like? Could those tools be used to achieve a more accurate, and permanent, perception of objective reality?

  7. vanAdamme says:

    Just sent this off to a psychologist friend who used it that day with a client. Great work!

  8. John Myste says:

    It is also better to focus on the process rather than the result. This all applies to critical thinking and scientific knowledge as well.

    You are the first person I have heard say this about critical thinking. I wrote an essay I never published that had this thesis: being write is not important. Ideas are important. The right ideas are inspired by the wrong ones. They are rarely the first answer.

    You almost inspired me to post it. I wrote it before I had a blog. I wonder if I know where it is.

    Probably not. God probably took it in it’s primes, for His sake!

    • Sheila says:

      Sure John, I’m sure God took it, LOL. Of course that’s the most logical answer you can come up with? Maybe you mis-filed it or threw it away? But all you can come up with is that God took it, LOL. Where the hell are all the skeptics when you need them?

  9. John K. says:

    I have found that extreme pessimism is mostly harmful in that it makes people give up more quickly. If you consider a goal impossible to reach, you will not put in effort to achieve it. This is only reasonable.

    Extreme optimism has its problems also, though. I have found that I really only get very angry at situations I did not see coming or assumed would go well (and then did not). The best method I have learned for controlling my temper is to consider the worst outcome, and even have some plans for it. If I expect traffic to be horrible I don’t tend to get as angry when it actually is the way I expected.

    Hope for the best, plan for the worst, as they say.

    • Sheila says:

      Well as long as you’re not killing anyone, there’s hope for you.

      • Scott says:

        What does that even mean? At first I didn’t believe Sheila was who she portrayed herself as. I thought for sure she was a fellow skeptic, playing the role of the knucklehead for shits and giggles. But now I’m of the opinion that she’s an actual knucklehead playing the role of bully for shits and giggles. It is unfortunate that folks cannot be banned here, as she adds zero insight to any topic, managing only to ridicule and antagonize individuals. Not debating topics, but attacking and demeaning individual posters. Such is the tactic of the ignorant.

      • Max says:

        Trolling violates the Skepticblog comment policy.
        “Don’t be a troll. Trolls lurk on blog comments, sniping at phrases or points taken out of context. They try to be provocative just to stir emotion, rather than sincerely engaging in conversation or trying to understand the actual points raised by the author or other commenters. Most savvy blog readers have come to recognize trolls, and will try to ignore them. But there always seems to be enough new readers to suck in that trolls can effectively disrupt meaningful conversation.”

        I’m just surprised that one of the worst trolls here is a woman.

      • tmac57 says:

        I wouldn’t bet on that Max.Anyway,a troll is a troll is a troll.I think it’s time to pull the plug,but that’s up to the moderators.

      • tmac57 says:

        Oh,I see Dr. Novella has taken some action.Nevermind.

      • Max says:

        You wouldn’t bet that Sheila is a woman? I would, based on her feminist posts in the SGU 24 thread. I’d expect a male troll to be misogynist there.

      • tmac57 says:

        I think it was clear that ‘Shelia’ was lying about many aspects of who ‘she’ was.It seems obvious that accepting her appellation as being accurate as to her sex,would be assuming too much.

      • Maybe Sheila is Nyar or someone like that under new name?

    • Max says:

      A pessimist says, “The situation can’t get any worse.”
      An optimist replies, “Oh yes it can.”

      Or is it the other way around?

  10. Sheila has exceeded her troll quotient.

  11. Majority of One says:

    This is a very interesting area of study. I’ve always considered myself an optimistic person grounded in reality, mainly because reality has asserted itself into my life many times.

    The making your own luck thing, I think, has a lot of merit. Using the lottery as an example, if you think you’re unlucky, you won’t even buy a ticket…don’t buy a ticket and you can’t possibly win. If you do win, you have, in a sense, made your own luck.

    Also, thanks for getting rid of Sheila! I sure won’t miss all the LOLs.

    • tmac57 says:

      Gambling is an interesting case concerning optimism. On the one hand,as you state,you can’t win a jackpot if you don’t participate, while on the other hand,the odds are clearly stacked against you in almost all gambling situations.
      I wonder if the compulsive gambler is a case of misplaced (malignant?)optimism gone awry,or if the gambler,at some level,really wants to lose for some sick reason.

      • Max says:

        People have bragged to me how much they’ve won in Las Vegas, but they forget to mention that they’ve lost a lot more.

      • tmac57 says:

        Yeah,I’ve heard that too.I always ask about the losses,and I am assured that “I usually win more than I lose”. Sigh…

      • LovleAnjel says:

        Compulsive gamblers can actually feel entitled to win. I’ve seen a few on Intervention getting thrown out of the casino, and they all get upset because “it’s my turn to win!”. Add into that the adrenaline rush they get when they win, and you’ve got a pretty powerful drive.

      • tmac57 says:

        I wonder what they are feeling during the process before the win or loss.Is it a hopeful feeling of impending success,or an impending feeling of doom?
        I guess it is probably different for various personality types.

      • LovleAnjel says:

        There is an anticipatory rush that climaxes during the win. You are agitated and shaky during the build-up. When it’s a loss, you feel like total sh*t, the rush drops out and you feel weak in your arms & legs.

        (I am not a compulsive gambler, but I have a little shopping problem.)

      • tmac57 says:

        What would be the equivalent of a ‘win’ or ‘loss’ in compulsive shopping?

      • Alganon says:

        I believe some studies have concluded that contrary to common wisdom, gamblers do not remember their wins better than their losses, they remember them better but as near wins. Thoughts of “if only he hadn’t dropped that snap” or “if only the umpire hadn’t blown that call I would’ve won” obscure the reason of why gambling is risky in the first place to the uncritical thinking gambler.

  12. Dr. Novella, you note the malleability of human nature … BUT … to a fair degree, psychological “dispositions” are heritable, too. If they were not, we wouldn’t have the five-type (and other) personality tests, for example. And, as others note, sometimes “pessimism” is good.

  13. OH, I don’t like the use of the word “luck” in Wiseman’s article. Sounds too woo-ish. That said, his “reframing” is nothing new. Martin Seligman was talking about that 20 years ago.

    Other critique:

    Principle Two: Listening to Lucky Hunches … to get more explicit than Max on Vegas … what’s a “lucky hunch”? Plenty of potential for the bullseye fallacy and others.

    Principle Four: Turn Bad Luck to Good … first, again the word “luck.” Second, per the psuedo-chinese proverb, what appears to be “bad luck” may be fortuitous, or vice versa.

    Also … the BBC experiment? THat’s hardly an “experiment.” Could be some third factor involved, for example, that affects both general perception and “luck.” Anxiety, for example, could affect the perception for which he tested, and the *results* of acting on the same opportunity as “lucky” people. What he seemed to be finding was that some people have less anxiety than others, not more “luck.”

    Frankly, I have to seriously question SI, and Wiseman in his research, for … pandering? by talking about “luck.”

    • Phea says:

      I’ve found that most “lucky” people are those who took advantage of opportunities that were presented to them.

      I play a lot of poker tournaments, which has an element of luck to it. While I’ve never made it to a final table without getting lucky, I’ve never seen someone get to one by luck alone.

      Odds and chance do have anomalies though, which have been documented by coin flips, dice rolls and roulette wheel spins, that seem to go against the odds, but don’t. I’ve often wondered if out of the billions of people, there is one, somewhere, who has always had good luck, (or bad). It would be very hard to convince them that their good, (or bad), “luck” is just an anomaly, and that past events can not predict future outcome.

    • SocraticGadfly says:

      In fact … I was disconcerted enough to put these and more thoughts into a blog post.

  14. Retired Prof says:

    One advantage of pessimism I haven’t seen mentioned here yet is that it can help a person avoid danger. A windstorm broke off a large forked limb from a tree in my yard, and it hung there by the “vee” on a dead horizontal limb. I knew I could climb up on a ladder with a chain saw and cut the dead limb to let the broken one fall, but I thought pessimistically, “That limb would probably fall toward me and kill or injure me.” So I didn’t do that.

    I thought, “I could call an arborist with a cherry-picker to take it down from above, but (I thought pessimistically) that would cost $200 or more.” I didn’t do that either.

    I thought, “I could take a rifle and shoot a dotted line across that dead limb. Then I would be safely out of the way when it broke.” We live in the country, but, to take a pessimistic view, the bullets would possibly do damage or injury on neighboring property after they passed through the wood.

    I thought, “If I stand on the roof of my porch to shoot, the bullets will plunk harmlessly into the hillside 200 yards away on my own property.” Even my pessimistic side saw no drawback, and with a series of shots I severed the dead limb. The broken one tipped over and fell where it would have killed or injured me if I had been using a ladder and a chain saw.

    I conclude that the key to success is neither optimism nor pessimism. It is summed up in the poker adage: Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

    • Majority of One says:

      I have a friend who says if you think poker is a game of luck then get out your money…

      Also, I guess I don’t think of the lottery as gambling. I mean I know it is strictly speaking, but I usually only “wager” a buck or two then fantasize about all the good I’ll do with the money until the drawing, then rinse and repeat. It is just fun. No children go hungry or without shoes.

      • Phea says:

        Poker is about making the best decisions based on available information. In the game of Hold’em, for example, if you could see everyone’s hole cards, you could play a technically perfect game, but still lose because of luck. It is a big part of the game and one of the more frustrating aspects of it.

  15. John Greg says:

    Novella said:

    “Mastery is a matter of the 10,000 hours of practice, not inborn gifts.”

    Is that a legitimate theory? I was under the impression that that claim was a Gladwell invention? Yes? No? Can someone clarify that for me?

    • SocraticGadfly says:

      I believe that’s at least as myth as reality. Anecdotal counterexample? Michael Jordan, whose basketball practice intensity as well as skills are notable, never did learn to hit that Double-A curveball.

      Another disappointment of both this blog post and the SI article, which, contra Novella’s “no magic” claim, certainlly DOES read like that with the “four quick tips.” Frankly, if a known New Ager had written the same article, with the same title, I think it would have been savaged.

      • Badrescher says:

        I think you’ve misunderstood the “practice makes perfect” issue. Failing to achieve something specific, particularly a physical task, does not refute it. Nobody is guaranteed a specific outcome due to practice (one the statement in the post about whether enough practice can lead to a win on “Idol”)’ but we are guaranteed to fail without it.

      • Well, Gladwell can have a lot of “truthiness” without necessarily having a lot of truth.

        An example:

        Unfortunately, Ericsson didn’t show us this data, so we can only speculate. But that didn’t stop Malcolm Gladwell from making this statement in his book “Outliers”:

        “The striking thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals”, musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did.

        Nor could they find any “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn’t have what it takes to break the top ranks.” – Outliers, pg 39

        Again, I don’t know how he arrives at the above statements – Ericsson presented not a single measure to support these claims (and I happen to know that he didn’t interview him either). As we’ll see shortly, it is actually inconceivable that Gladwell’s statements are true – other study of skilled performance show massive variations, and the same will be true for violinists, of this I’m certain.

        But what he is saying above is that practice is NECESSARY (the first part of the quote – no one succeeds without doing the time), and that practice is SUFFICIENT (the second part – if you do the training, you will achieve the level). This is crucial to this debate – those advocating for 10,000 hours are saying that it is both necessary and sufficient.

        And, issues of logical necessity and sufficiency have been discussed here before, including by yours truly.

        The blogger goes on:

        The figure above shows how much of performance can be explained by deliberate practice. In chess, which I showed above, it’s 34%. In darts, 15 years of practice explains only 28% of the variation in performance between individuals! An extra-ordinary finding, because with all due respect, that’s in darts…what else is there that influences performance? Yet practice time accounts for only a quarter of the performance differences.

        What is most interesting about this is that 10 years of practice explained 25% of variability, while 15 years explains 28%. So clearly, the more you practice, the more you can explain performance. That’s not surprising, but the question is this: How many hours of practice would it take to explain “most” of performance as a result of practice?

        I stand by my take on Gladwell. The more I read of him, the more I realize it’s like stereotypical Chinese food: quickly digested, not filling, and leaving you hungry soon thereafter.

        The blog post itself is … 2-3,000 words and very in depth.

        So, no, it’s not that good of a summary, perhaps, of academic literature. At least not in harder sciences.

    • Badrescher says:

      It is not myth. It’s the sum of a couple of decades of literature on expertise.

      Gladwell wrote about it, but Herod not invent it and he is certainly not the only person to write about it in the popular press. Of course, that’s not relevant. What’s relevant is that it’s a good summary of the academic literature.

  16. Sasori says:

    There is a limit to what a person can achieve by simply working hard. Using school work as an example, there were some “grinders” in our class that scored well, and in the lower grades were top of the class.

    Then there were those guys, let call them the freeloaders, that did not really even try, but still with minimal effort were able to stay in close proximity to the “grinders” – grades wise.

    What I observed in the later grades when the papers started getting really tricky, that these grinders had trouble keeping up with the freeloaders. They worked just as hard, but now the free loaders had that something extra that separated them from the pack.

    So from my personal experience your talent defines what you potentially can achieve – and your work ethic determines how much of that you actually will.

    p.s. i don’t believe that anyone could will their way to achieving success at an Idol contest. Trust me, even if I sang 10000 hours with professional coaching, I would not be a pop idol. Proof, feedback from people that have heard me sing :D