The world is full of examples of people who exemplify a growth mindset. Here are just a few:
While many athletes are hailed as naturals who somehow have an almost magical gift for their sport, this idea belies the intense work and determination it takes to be competitive. In fact, most of the sports heroes we know, from Mohammad Ali to Tiger Woods, were not hailed as naturals at the start of their career. Only extremely hard work made them seem, at the peak of their powers, to have been naturals all along.
For example, consider the story of Fauja Singh, multiple world record holder in running, who didn’t learn to run until he was 89.
Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathoner, was a sickly young boy growing up in India. He was often teased by his peers, but still developed an interest in running as a young man. He soon gave up running, though, and didn’t return to athletics until 1995, when he was in his 80s.
Spurred on by deaths in his family, he wanted to take care of his health. He ran his first marathon in 2000, at age 89. In 2003, at age 93, he beat the world marathon record for his age group by 53 minutes. Singh held multiple age group awards in various running distances, and was the first centenarian to finish a marathon in 2011.
If there is a sport or activity you’d like to try, know that while you may not become Michael Jordan or Serena Williams, you can learn and improve at any age.
Even for people who believe that intelligence can be cultivated and developed, creativity and artistic ability can seem impossible to acquire if they aren’t inborn. Yet, creativity and artistic skills can be learned and cultivated just like anything else. In fact, many famous artists struggled for decades before mastering their craft and gaining recognition.
For example, Impressionist painter Claude Monet didn’t begin painting seriously until his 40s and painted his most successful works amidst his beloved gardens as he aged. Monet’s fellow Impressionist Paul Cezanne also got off to a slow start. He was repeatedly rejected from art school and didn’t find any success until his 40s. Getting an even later start was American artist Anna Moses, commonly known as Grandma Moses. She didn’t begin painting seriously until she was 78.
Writing is another field in which success might seem due to natural talent, and yet, hard work and determination are the deciding factors more often than not. For example, Laura Ingles Wilder, writer of the Little House on the Prairies series, didn’t begin writing until her 40s, when she started a freelance journalism career. It took another twenty years before she published her first novel.
Poet Charles Bukowski published his first book at age 51, Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison didn’t publish her first novel until age 39, and novelist Donald Ray Pollock started writing in his 50s, finishing MFA at 55 with his debut novel coming three years later.
For more examples of how a growth mindset helps people succeed in sports, music, business and relationships, read Dweck’s book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, which is full of examples of how a growth mindset leads to success, while a fixed mindset hinders it.
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