All throughout my childhood, I’ve been told how smart I was. For more than a decade, I had excellent grades, always fighting for the first spot. I was allowed to skip a year because I could read before we were meant to. I even taught myself how to write a letter in Dutch to my grandparents. All of this gentle cruise felt easy and, most of all, natural.
However, what I wish I were told was how hard I worked.
Being praised for your inner skills instead of your hard work is a terrible mindset to grow up in. Any failure, however slight, is interpreted as “being stupid” instead of “not worked enough”. Mistakenly attributing success to intelligence can leave a kid without valuable cognitive tools to handle any problem he might face.
Such feelings of inadequacy can outlast childhood. And it’s important to acknowledge as soon as possible the capacity to overcome any challenge you might face.
If you succeed, people will often praise how “gifted” you are instead of considering how hard you’ve worked. It is for them as much an excuse to avoid putting the same amount of effort as a way to undermine your accomplishments.
But in the end, all you’re left with is what has been done rather than said.